Is 'Dynasty Warriors' based on a video game? A look at the evolution of the iconic series

Is 'Dynasty Warriors' based on a video game? A look at the evolution of the iconic series
Lu Bu in the 'Dynasty Warriors' game and Lu Bu in the 'Dynasty Warriors' movie (Koei Techmo/IMDb)

Video games are one of the most popular hobbies across the world. People can just plug in their consoles and play various games to freshen up their minds after a hectic day of work or studies. It goes without saying that video games have evolved with time. It started with games like ‘Tetris’ and ‘Pac Man’, which required little space on your devices and had below-average graphics. Since the '90s, the games have seen an evolution in terms of graphics and storylines.

Video game series like 'Call of Duty', 'Final Fantasy' have been some of the best-selling games of all time. One such game that has created a lot of impact on the minds of the people and continues to be a rage among them is none other than ‘Dynasty Warriors’. Developed by the famous Japanese video game company Omega Force, ‘Dynasty Warriors’ is a hack and slash video game series that released in 1997. The gaming series has seen a lot of success over the years and has also been adapted as a live-action movie of the same name.


Ray Lui as Yuan Shao and Coulee Nazha as Diao Chan in 'Dynasty Warriors' (IMDb/Netflix)

So, what is ‘Dynasty Warriors’ and how its evolution has stood the test of time?

A still from the 'Dynasty Warriors 8' game (YouTube/GameZone)

What is the ‘Dynasty Warriors’ game series?

The Japanese name of the video game series is ‘Shin Sangokumusō’ while the English version is called ‘Dynasty Warriors’. Based on 'Record of the Three Kingdoms' historical texts written by Chen Shou, the video game series came into existence in 1997.


The first game of the series, titled ‘Sangokumusō’, was a fighting game and really different from the editions that came in the future. Released in 1997 for PlayStation, the game had a lot of similarities with ‘Virtua Fighter’ because of its gameplay. The next game was released in Japan as ‘Shin Sangokumusou’. This game was released in other countries as ‘Dynasty Warriors 2’, leading to the discrepancy in title numbers.


From this game onwards, the player chooses a playable character and plays a number of levels representing particular battles in the Three Kingdoms period, eventually defeating all other rival kingdoms and uniting China under a common ruler. As a result of the fact that the original ‘Sangokumusō’ title is a fighting game and has a different series title in Japan, it is not considered a formal entry in the ‘Dynasty Warriors’ series by Koei Tecmo, the parent company of Omega Force.

Since 1997, the gaming company has released more than nine games in the ‘Dynasty Warriors’ franchise. Apart from being a PlayStation exclusive at the beginning, the game is now available for playing on various other consoles like Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows, iOS, and Android.


Evolution of ‘Dynasty Warriors’

Fans have been seeing some really massive evolution in the series since its inception. Without any guesses, the most important part of the evolution has been the graphics. The first game in the series looked like a Japanese version of ‘Street Fighter’. Players could choose characters and have a “one on one” fight between them. The character's animations were all created using motion capture.


A screenshot from 'Dynasty Warriors 1' game (YouTube)

However, the entire game changed with the second edition. It was not a regular “one on one” fighting game and players could actually follow a storyline to finish it. Players could choose any playable character and feature in the battles in the Three Kingdoms period. In this game mode, known as “Musou Mode”, the generals are usually chosen from one of the three kingdoms (Wu, Shu, or Wei).

Apart from the second game, ‘Dynasty Warriors 3’, ‘Dynasty Warriors 5’ and ‘Dynasty Warriors 6’ have individual Musou Modes for each character.


A still from 'Dynasty Warriors 3' gameplay (YouTube/xTimeless Gaming)

However, ‘Dynasty Warriors 4’, ‘Dynasty Warriors 7’, and ‘Dynasty Warriors 8’, each of the Three Kingdoms has its own Musou Mode, which all characters from a particular kingdom would play. In the aforementioned editions of the games, the stories or stages were presented in a third-person view, with the camera set behind the player as they fight or talk with other characters.

Two editions that saw some significant changes to their formula were ‘Dynasty Warriors 6’ and the most recently released ‘Dynasty Warriors 9’.

‘Dynasty Warriors 6’ actually saw a significant change in the 3D environments. However, fans were not pleased with the increased repetitiveness of the characters' skill sets. Meanwhile, ‘Dynasty Warriors 9’ faced a lot of criticisms for its stealth elements and fishing mechanics. The players also believed that the voice-casting was absolutely pathetic and the characters did not have an emotional connection with the players as it was in the earlier editions.


A still from 'Dynasty Warriors 6' gameplay (YouTube/igcompany)

The gaming company changed a lot of things after the sixth edition and returned to what it used to be in the past. A lot of people believe that Omega Force will take things back to normal after the recent failure.

Another great evolution in the game series can be seen in the expansion of playable characters as well as the increase in the number of playable stages. The most significant change in this regard came when Jin Dynasty was introduced in the game. The Jin Dynasty was responsible for unifying the Three Kingdoms after the devastation. The developers of the games have been applauded for showing to the world how Jin Dynasty helped in unifying China.


A still from 'Dynasty Warriors 9' gameplay (YouTube/Throneful)

The best thing that the game did was present the same story, again and again, using different perspectives from both historical facts and historical fiction. In recent years, the company also realized that it is important to reach teenagers if they want the game to reach greater heights. As a result, the game was released for Apple and Android devices. A lot of spin-offs and other versions have also been released for the aforementioned devices. 

All in all, it can be said that ‘Dynasty Warriors’ has been one of the most impactful games of this generation. It took Koei Tecmo and Omega Force to a whole new level and is still the company’s most successful franchise. As of 2020, the series has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide. Apart from  that, the game has been an inspiration for many other makers in the gaming industry. ‘Dynasty Warriors’ might not have numerous awards for its innovation, but it still continues to enjoy a lot of success because of its constant evolution and the place it holds in the hearts of people.

The live-action film adaptation of ‘Dynasty Warriors’ will be premiering exclusively on Netflix on July 1.


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