Dynasty Warriors is truly a strange duck. In Japan, the franchise is a major system seller and one of the hottest properties around. In the West, many view it as a joke. I asked lead producer Akihiro Suzuki why he thinks there’s such a strong divide between East and West.
“Yeah, there is a difference in the popularity of the series in Japan and over there in the West,” he admitted. “I think that this is down to two main reasons. The first one I would say is that the game’s historical Asian setting is not such a popular theme in the West as it is in Japan. The setting itself is a really good theme that can relate to players world-wide, but the most difficult thing is to actually portray why that theme is so good to Western players.
“The second reason is that the series is perceived to have very little innovation. Actually, when the second Dynasty Warriors game came out (the very first one was a fighting game) it was touted as something incredibly innovative. In fact, the game gained high popularity and was way outside the cult sphere in that it had a wide user following. The direction we took with the game sequels meant that we could not give the wider user base so much change they had wanted, so the series became more niche as time went by.”
And what of the reviews from Western outlets that often pan the games and don’t (in my opinion) play more than five minutes of content?
“I think that for players who wanted to see the series change I can’t deny what the reviews are saying because you could say that the games have not changed that drastically over time,” confessed Suzuki. “But if you look at the other end of the spectrum, you’ll see that there are many players out there who love the series and don’t want it to change so much. The point that I am trying to make is that from a development standpoint you have to balance these two extremes and try to steadily make the series develop itself over time in its own way. The way we have developed DW7 is we gave it the new Jin kingdom and story, a new action system, the Conquest Mode, etc.”
Pretty honest of him to admit that the series doesn’t change a huge deal, but then, how could he deny that? I personally view the series like Madden — the core remains the same, but there are always new features, roster updates, and other extras for the hardcore fans.
I am quite happy with that.