For a time I did my best to play all the Musou games I could get my hands on. I loved the feeling of walking into a horde of foes and absolutely decimating them with a few button presses. I had a blast hacking and slashing my way up to thousands of KOs. But as game-after-game kept coming out, I started feeling like there was no way I could keep up. And as they kept piling up, I stopped being so sure that I even wanted to.
As fans are no doubt aware, the series started with Dynasty Warriors/Sangoku Musou, a one-on-one fighting game much like Soul Edge. It was a standard 3D fighter that featured characters from the classic Chinese historical novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The game’s developer, Omega Force, would later abandon this style of game and switch to a hack-and-slash crowd-fighter Shin Sangoku Musou, which was branded as Dynasty Warriors 2 in the West. This was weird as the game was definitely not a sequel. This move nearly two decades ago created a discrepancy in the way that the games are numbered to this day. And, boy, there are a lot of them.
The core Dynasty Warriors series is made up of 9 numbered entries. Starting with the fourth game in the series (counting the fighting game), each game started getting one expansion called Xtreme Legends and a version of the game entirely repurposed to have strategy elements called Empires. For the most part, every game from that point onward basically encompassed three separate releases. That meant that, if you bought every title as it came out, each Dynasty Warriors game would basically run you over $100.
All-in-all, that bloats the number of releases in the core series alone from 9 to nineteen games! Plus another nine or so spin-offs from that series alone. On top of that, there have been four mainline games in the Samurai Warriors series. Some of these games also had their own Xtreme Legends and Empires add-ons. The most recent game in the series, Samurai Warriors 4, even had an entirely new game made up from the same engine called Spirit of Sanada. This series also has its own set of spin-offs.
I know, that sounds like an absolute ton of games diehards would have bought over the years, but that barely begins to scratch the surface of the series. The first two series also have their own crossover series called Warriors Orochi which has its fourth entry coming out in a couple of months, plus the additional games, Musou Orochi Z, which combined the first two games into one and Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate . And that doesn’t even get to the franchises that Omega Force gave their own Musou games.
There have been four Gundam games, two Fist of the North Star games, three One Piece games, two Dragon Quest games, two Attack on Titan games, a Zelda game, a Heroic Legend of Arslan game, a Berserk game, a Fire Emblem game and a separate crossover game that featured characters from other Koei-Tecmo properties. Altogether, that’s about sixty games. Granted, there’s no reason for recent fans to pick up most of the earlier ones, but for people who’ve been in it for the long-haul, that’s at least $2000 spent on this one series alone.
So, what was my point in rattling off all those games? Well, as a fan of the series, I have to say that I just can’t keep up. Koei-Tecmo seems to think that volume is the absolute best way to keep sales up, especially since these are niche titles we’re talking about, but for me, all they’re doing is scaring me off from playing the rest. When the games are being released in such bulk, I’m hesitant to buy one when a better one could be right around the corner.
Or there were the times I bought a game, only for a superior version to come out not long after. I bought Musou games like Dynasty Warriors 8 and Warriors Orochi 3, only for better versions with better graphics and more content to come out later. I bought the extremely disappointing One Piece: Pirate Warriors at launch, only for the infinitely superior sequel to come out a year later. I could certainly buy Musou All-stars now, but Warriors Orochi 4 is almost certainly going to make that obsolete.
Then there’s the fact that sometimes a game will come out that’s improved, only for the games after it to remove features. Samurai Warriors 4 allows players to switch between two characters that move around the map when you’re playing the other with ease. It also had all-new moves that were used to more efficiently clean up enemy mobs. However, certain later entries in the other series are missing these features, which makes playing them after their predecessors feel clunky and slow in comparison.
Since I liked that game so much, I wanted more, but there were three additional versions to choose from and I simply wasn’t sure which to get, so I didn’t get any of them. I’m still not sure if I’m going to buy Dynasty Warriors 9 because I’m not sure if a superior version of the game is waiting right around the corner.
And I haven’t even mentioned DLC yet. All of the modern games have a ton of expensive DLC that basically never goes on sale, so unless you drop a ton of cash on one title, you won’t ever get any of that content. A lot of it isn’t all that substantive aside from additional mission scenarios and are mostly costumes and music tracks, but the core games are extremely stingy with new costumes to begin with, making it look like they gave their customers the bare minimum so that they could try to get people to fork over the cash for more DLC.
I enjoy these games, I do, but I can’t justify the cost of shelling out for the huge amount of games when there’s just so many of them. I’m going to settle for just waiting and picking up the best ones once I know that a better version won’t come out two weeks after I buy it and I suppose that’ll be fine. But I still haven’t been able to shake the notion that I’m missing out on a lot of stuff. I really wish Tecmo-Koei operated this franchise differently because I’d imagine they’re scaring off a lot of potential customers. In this case, I think a little more clarity and focus would definitely do the series a lot of good.
Are you a fan of Musou games? Are you growing tired of all the releases? Be sure to leave all your thoughts in the comments section below.
Andrew Farrell has an extreme hearing sensitivity called hyperacusis that keeps him away from all loud noises. Please do not throw rocks at his window. That is rude. He loves action and rpg games, whether they be AAA or indie. He does not like sports games unless the sport is Baseketball.