One criticism frequently levied at the Dynasty Warriors series by the western press is that the installments are near-indistinguishable. Here, Gamasutra spoke to Akihiro Suzuki, executive officer, software dept. 1, software division, about that issue and the series' future.
The Dynasty Warriors game series has been very consistent in terms of gameplay for a long time. So what goes into making a new version different from all the others?
Akihiro Suzuki: The basic series concept is the same throughout the series, which is "one against a thousand", that sort of a theme. And the games are all based on that, but aside from that, the challenge is to give each title the same... flavor. We always work toward that.
The difference often seems very subtle. Is that enough for you? Or do you want to take a bigger step?
AS: So... for the major releases with numbers, like two, three, and four... for these it's mostly about increasing the volume and also adding more stories. But this may not seem like much of a difference to North Americans or Europeans. For people who understand the history, people in Japan specifically, for them it is a pretty big difference between each release. That said, for the titles without the numbers like Empires and Orochi, which we are displaying this time, is one such example. They have a different concept from the major releases. So we do try out different things with those types of titles. But we are going to try to create more of a difference between titles, even with our major numbered releases, as we go on into the future.
Koei's Dynasty Warriors 6
Do you think that these games could be used to teach actual history of the events they're based on?
AS: I don't think it can be used as an educational tool, because we arrange or rearrange the actual historical events. However, it can inspire a person to become curious about that historical period, so that person goes on his or her own search to study that period.
The "one against a thousand" game mechanic has been consistent throughout. Why do you think it has been so popular? It has been incredibly popular -- even to the point where it inspires other people to copy it.
AS: I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the operation is quite simple. It's easy for anyone to get used to the game and play well, and the speed of playing and immediate satisfaction that comes out of seeing your action on screen, I believe is the key for its success. Because all types of action games, everything you do is immediately reflected in the game. So it's very important to have an immediate sense of fun and satisfaction, and I think when you achieve that you get wide acceptance.
You're not a designer, but from a design standpoint, surely you're familiar with the series. How do you keep the flow of the game going throughout the game? Because it's very important that the action is constant.
AS: Well actually it is not that difficult to have continuous action. Of course, things have improved and it's easier than ever to create a long smooth sequence of action, but it has more to do with making it fun. It needs to continue, but it also has to be fun and enjoyable for the player. And that's where the challenge is.
How long do you think the series can continue as it is without making a major change?
AS: As long as [development studio] Omega Force wants to continue with it, I think it will continue.