Friday, 7 December 2012
Dynasty Warriors Advance (GBA)
I have actually played a lot of the main Dynasty Warriors games on consoles, and they're typically about running around on a field slicing through hundreds of rubbish soldiers to an anachronistic rock soundtrack. And this... isn't going to be like that, because it's a handheld game and the hardware just isn't up to it. But at least I can confirm that it does have the correct music, at least on the title screen. Plus it even sounds fairly decent for a GBA game.
The game is very roughly based on a true story, and takes place in 3rd century China, with the nation split between three powers: Wei, Shu and Wu. Each is eager to unify the nation under their rule, but only the incredible fighting skills of... whichever character I end up choosing can tip the balance and bring ultimate victory.
In the main series, each battle takes place on one huge map that you get to run around freely in third person, cutting through entire armies when necessary. This however is turn based until I encounter an enemy group, then it switches to a small action level a few screens wide, where I get to kick ass in real-time for a bit. You know, if I could just avoid being hit for a second or two.
That wheel of icons on the right is presumably powered by the screams of my fallen enemies (or something), and inflicting enough hurt will start one of them blinking. If I choose not to trigger it, inflicting additional hurt will start the next icon blinking instead and so on.
But what do the icons do, you might be wondering? I've got no idea, maybe stat boosts.
I like the idea of this section, as it seems like a reasonable compromise to get the game running on GBA hardware, but I'm not that keen on how slow it is. There can be a ten second wait between each turn as I cycle through all the message boxes and dialogue, and though that might not seem like much, it's a bloody eternity after playing a fast paced action level.
Alright, I think I'm going to give the game a second try. I get the feeling it's just going to be my dude versus 20-something soldiers on a small field from start to finish, but I don't feel I've managed to appreciate all the nuances of that set up just yet.
LATER, AFTER STARTING A NEW GAME.
This time I'm playing as Xiahou Dun, the man so badass that he tore out his own eye and ate it. Not through any great desire to wear an eyepatch, he just found he had no further use for the thing after a bloody archer shot an arrow into it.
Coming back here wastes a turn though, which... possibly means something bad, though I can't think what right now. Well I suppose my allies could march forward without me and get themselves killed, which would probably ruin everything. Hasn't happened yet though.
The trick is to get the first hit in before they do and to make sure that nobody catches me from behind while I'm busy hitting people. Or shoots me with an arrow.
I don't get any choices here though, as my stats are increased automatically.
I need to load my save and try again, because this was just a slaughter, and not the good kind like you want.
And that's the first battle complete!
The story plays out on the map as I progress, with the characters yelling things to each other, despite often being half a mile away from the people they're talking to. I kinda wish they wouldn't though, as it slows the game down.
Also I've maxed out the abilities on that icon circle, and I've collected a new sword that makes people explode. Things are actually working out pretty well now I've gotten into the rhythm of it, B, B, Aing enemies from one side of the screen to the other.
Lu Bu's often one of the toughest enemies to fight in the Dynasty Warriors games. In my experience this guy is to the playable characters what they are to common spearsmen. In other words, he could take on five of me at a time. Fortunately I'm pretty sure I could just walk around the guy on the map, but you know, I don't really want to. I think I can take him.
Lu Bu Theme.
The soundtrack of the Dynasty Warriors games has gotten a fair bit of criticism in reviews for putting hard rock and metal over the ancient battles of the Han Dynasty, and while I respect the reviewers' opinions and their taste in music, I have to point out that this music is actually awesome and perfectly fits what's basically a fantasy action game. I mean c'mon how can anyone not like that tune?
I don't think Dynasty Warriors Advance is actually a terrible game, but it's definitely a very repetitive one. Every battle comes down to beating up 20-30 people in a patch of land maybe three screens square, and beating those people up comes down to remembering to press B twice before pressing A. But it's slick, it looks reasonably good, the battle music sounds like this: youtube link... there's a lot to like and there's nothing obviously broken about it I could see. It's just kinda tedious.
The console games can be repetitive and boring themselves, but they're saved by something this game doesn't have: co-op. Somehow I find the games come alive with two players on the field, and this just doesn't have that feature. Plus the console games let you run around an open battlefield engaging tens of soldiers at once, which also helps to stave off the tedium.
If you want to comment on Dynasty Warriors Advance, the Dynasty Warriors games in general, how much you hate the soundtrack, or anything else halfway relevant, you're in luck, as there's a convenient comment box for you just under this message!