Review by Crashman_

"Capcom paves the way for the future of video games"

“Capcom takes you back to the past to see the future of video games!” Or so the flyer for Dynasty Wars read back in 1989. They didn't know how right they were, or how far into the future they were talking about. This is the game that was a direct inspiration for Dynasty Warriors, or at least its American version name. Dynasty Wars is a left to right scrolling beat ‘em up game, with a twist; all of the characters use weapons and you are always fighting on horseback. This came out around the same time as final fight, so it was not only a way to release a new beat ‘em up game, but also plug their home version, what we know as Destiny of an Emperor. The Japanese name of the game is ‘Tenchi Wo Kurau,' which translates to “Devouring/Destruction of Heaven and Earth,” which apparently means “Conquering the Land.” The game takes place in the Three Kingdoms era of ancient China, but the character designs had nothing to do with Koei's strategy games. In fact, Tenchi Wo Kurau was a successful Manga back then, and presumably the games were successful too, getting sequels in both arcades and on home consoles. Enough game history though, on to the review!

There's nothing that isn't doable on an early Super NES game here, but I'm sure at the time they blew people away. Fans of the home games probably enjoyed seeing their favorite characters portrayed in better color and size in the arcades. It is a very old game, so I'll give credit to the game for having moving backgrounds and plenty of soldiers on screen. The characters are quite small for a beat ‘em up, but this game is unique so it doesn't matter. The graphics are certainly better than most games available back then. In 1989, single color games were still in arcades. On the other end of the spectrum, Afterburner was THE state of the art game. Good for the time, and even better for fans. Character designs are straight out of the manga. On a side note, you can clearly see where Koei found their inspiration for their DW's Zhao Yun in this game.

There is nothing overly special about the music. It isn't the usual Capcom music. It has a bit of Chinese influence that is more apparent in some places than others.A few stages have some pretty good music. Sound effects are pretty dull. No realistic weapon noises or ‘slicing' blood sounds. There is a fair amount of voice in this game, a lot more than most games of the time. The voice is a little grainy.

Well there isn't anything you can say about the base story of the game. It's taken from the Three Kingdoms novels and has characters from there. The game tries to throw you a few surprises, like fighting on a rickety bridge, or chasing Dong Zhuo's chariot. The stages have an ending screen, but there are no cut scenes. Most of the story is told during the game while you are fighting. The game covers from the Yellow Scarves in 184 to the campaign against Dong Zhuo. The ending tells you to wait for the sequel. Both the second home RPG and the second Arcade game take place after, so it could mean either one. Great marketing on Capcom's part.

Challenge. Well this all depends on how many coins you put in. The more coins you put in, the more times you can press start to increase your life bar. This game was obviously made to cost lots of quarters. Later bosses do insane amounts of damage. Be warned; if you lose your life and fall off your horse the game is over. You do not continue like in a traditional beat ‘em up. Whether this is good or bad is all a matter of taste. There is no waiting this way, but you had better be fast with the quarters and like the character you picked. There are 8 good sized levels to play through. If you play for real, you can probably beat the game with five dollars.

The game is very simple. There is the directional stick and three buttons. One button to swing each way and a special attack button. The special attack can be many different things, depending on what you have picked up. You can call a falling logs trap, have archers shoot some blue flaming arrows, and so on. Some are more effective than others, as they cover more ground. This takes a little bit of life, but not a crippling amount like other games that use this system. The game is very simple, but the action keeps the pace up. Unlike some of Capcom's other weapons based beat ‘em ups, you aren't fighting super cheap bosses that beat you down while you just take it like a champ. You have a charge up move that gets more range and power, and you can attack while you are getting attacked. Don't think you can just rush in and kill all of the bosses though. They have different moves and you will have to fight each one differently. You can pick from four characters; Liu Bei, Guan Yu, Zhao Yun, and a youthful Zhang Fei. They are basically two types of characters; swinging blades and spears. The spear units handle alike and so do the sword users. One of each has high attack with low defense and vice versa. Enemies are pretty standard; there are enemy horsemen, bowmen, infantry, infantry who move around like ninjas, and bosses. There are a few special enemies along the way.

This was pioneering the way for lots of more beat ‘em ups, and the excellent Dynasty Warriors games of today. I commend Capcom for making this game and I hope it did well.

Retro Rating; 89% Better than most games in the arcades back then, that's for sure. Afterburner was still king of the 1989 Arcade though.

Rating as an early beat -em up game; 72% Fun, but really crunches the quarters. I don't know where you'll see this today, unless there are retro arcades in your area. Worth trying just for its historical significance in video games. Think of it as Dynasty Warriors 2D.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/07/04

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