Next Generation has an interesting little interview up with Dynasty Warriors producer Ken Matsumoto, who discusses the latest in the series, Dynasty Warriors 6 (released in the US this month) and has one or two things to say about the criticism that gets heaped on Koei’s millions-selling franchise.
Like Zhang Fei fending off the pursuing Wei forces at Chang Ban, Matsumoto expressed dismay at the way the series is gleefully savaged by reviewers, and points out the fallacies that he believes they use when complaining. When asked what criticisms especially annoy him, Matsumoto had this to say:
“Sometimes I feel annoyed. Comparing us to Halo, which I’ve seen on one occasion, is stupid – they’re just different. Games are often criticized on what they’re not rather than what they are. People got annoyed with Wii Sports because it didn’t have league tables, or allow you to have a three-wood in golf, or something, and it’s a brilliant game that’s simply not interested in offering those things.
With Dynasty Warriors we might feel the negative criticism isn’t fair, but when there have been a few sequels it’s hard to turn those opinions around. You’ll sometimes read something that doesn’t mention any of the new things in the game, then says it hasn’t done anything new, and you wonder: was it even played for more than 20 minutes? Perhaps people think, ‘Oh, that can fill up half a page’, and just give it to someone who doesn’t know the subtleties of this particular game – and when you get into an iterative series, subtlety is where the value lies.”
Although there’s no defense for releasing countless sequels (outside of the obvious one that people will buy them), he makes a fair point. Fact is, titles like Warriors Orochi and the Empires spin-offs are deeper, more interesting games that develop the series, but are often quickly derided as the same old pap. The fact a strategy game like Bladestorm was dismissed as another Dynasty Warriors by some professionals indicates that they don’t even bother playing Koei titles, which is a shame (someone at Koei once thanked me for taking the time to actually play it fully for our review). Of course, DW games are never going to be anything more than niche outside of Japan, so Matsumoto really shouldn’t worry too much. At least the Japanese releases rake Koei oodles of cash.