Dynasty Warriors is a fairly niche franchise, but the gameplay is well-known among dedicated gamers: the hack-and-slash classic featuring characters from the Chinese classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms has been fairly consistent throughout its lifetime, and has even spawned spin-off series such as Samurai Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, and Fire Emblem Warriors.
Obviously, this style of gameplay has worked for Koei Tecmo games, and they continue to release new installments in their Warriors series. But if I were to show you footage of the first Dynasty Warriors game ever released, you would be convinced that I was trolling you; the game is that different.
The original Dynasty Warriors game was far-removed from the hack-and-slash genre it has become known for; rather, it was actually a 1 vs. 1 fighting game.
Dynasty Warriors: The 1v1 Fighter?
If you check out Dynasty Warriors 2 through 9, the gameplay will look the same as it always as. But the original Warriors game was actually a 1 vs. 1 fighting game, similar to the Soul Calibur series.
Released in February 1997, the game is based around weapons; all attacks and defensive options are weapon-based, meaning no punches or kicks. The game revolves more around well-placed hits than long, devastating combos. Different attacks will aim for different parts of the opposing character, such as lower body, upper body, and overheads. Pretty standard stuff, but it’s the defensive maneuvers that make this game so unique.
In Dynasty Warriors, there is no “block” button like in the other fighting games. Instead, you block the opponent’s move by using a move of your own that corresponds with the height of the attack used by the opposing character. So if somebody comes in with a high attack, you’ll use your own high attack to block that move.
The fascinating (albeit frustrating) parry mechanic is what makes this game stand out. Rather than just blocking all the attacks, a well-timed parry is what will open up the opponent to a counterattack. Parries are when you block the enemy attack at the exact time that it’s about to hit you. Doing so well will leave the enemy “stunned,” the perfect time to land your own hit. It’s slightly risky because the timing is so tight, but the payoff is worth it.
Is The Game Good?
If you’re looking for multiple hit combos similar to DragonBall Fighter Z, then the original Dynasty Warriors won’t be for you. Dynasty Warriors is more based around well-placed attacks and being able to parry effectively. This means that footsies and solid neutral will be the difference between you and another play in this game.
Visually, the game is bright and colorful, and the animations are smooth. The game’s framerate is incredible for the time that it was released in, although this comes at the expense of some very bland backgrounds in the game’s stages. Still, if you’re only in it for the combat, it’s a fair price to pay for smooth fighting game action. The sound effects are quite satisfying, and the announcer gives the game that traditional fighting game vibe.
While this game might not be for traditional Dynasty Warriors fans, it’s worth giving it a shot just to see where the series originally started out, and which influences carried over into the hack-and-slash masterpieces that we enjoy today.