Musou Outtakes part 1: Western Musou games?

Last week I was lucky enough to have a very interesting Musou related conversation via Skype.  The conversation was with someone that I consider to be a true Musou expert, someone with ‘working knowledge’ of the series….Let’s call him ‘Mr. L’.

I will be doing a full Musou 2 Me interview with Mr. L shortly – right now I will post the transcript of our conservation regarding Western Musou comparators as I think it contained some interesting insights. Enjoy ^^

Mr. L: still waiting for your next What makes a Musou article :P
Leady: I have started the 3rd part…
Leady: but went off on a massive tangent lool
Leady: and confused myself hahaha
Mr. L: Just like Musou! :D
Leady: lool!
Leady: I have pieces of it written on my pc, ipad and bberry
Leady: Here’s a question for you….
Leady: what do you think is the closest a Western studio has come to making a Musou game?
Leady: or a game using design and mechanics close to the Musou formula?
Mr. L: Left 4 Dead perhaps? at least gameplay wise.
Mr. L: Not story wise
Leady: interesting
Mr. L: Left 4 Dead definitely has that one vs many feel to it
Mr. L: hundreds and hundred of enemies

Left 4 Dead features hundred of zombie enemies - is it the Western equivalent to Ikkitosen?

Mr. L: brb…
Leady: ok
Mr. L: ok back
Mr. L: Yeah, all the games that come to mind as comparisons to Musou are Asian
Mr. L: N3 and Kingdom under Fire are Korean
Mr. L: Final Fight and clones are all Japanese
Mr. L: I’m trying to think of Western games that have perspective based story-telling
Mr. L: but I can’t think of anything off the top of my head
Leady: I was thinking Lego Star Wars
Leady: in terms of the Character Action part
Leady: its basically Musou
Leady: but lacks the 1 v 1000 feeling
Leady: but then again so does Ken and other recent Musou games
Mr. L: actually, Lego might be a good example as well

Lego Star Wars 3 looks to ramp up the enemy count - maybe it's getting even closer to Musou? Notice that Ahsoka is reverse wielding her lightsaber here - just like in the TV show.

Leady: they really seem to have mucked Lego Star Wars III up
Leady: I was really looking forward to that
Mr. L: Marvel Ultimate Alliance might be another good comparison
Leady: oh yer good point
Mr. L: but yeah, I can’t think of a Western game where playing as different characters presents different points of view in the same overarching story
Leady: Also in Lego Star Wars all the characters have very simple controls and there are cloned animations rigs
Leady: on differing bodies
Leady: which really reminded me of Musou as well
Leady: and the fun is in unlocking all the characters and playing them just because they are ‘them’
Leady: and you know them from the outside fiction
Mr. L: True

Marvel Ultimate Alliance closely matches Musou's Character Action and RPG elements.

Mr. L: though pre-Dynasty 6, Musou didn’t clone rigs
Leady: damn i should put this transcript on my blog ^^
Mr. L: back in the good old days of Musou
Leady: yeah but the moves were accessed off the same basic commands/inputs so players could slip from one character to another without trouble
Leady: in Final Fighte etc. there is more strategy needed to play each character
Mr. L: well if we’re looking at combos, we shift back to Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Leady: I need to try MUA out
Leady: but I don’t like Marvel lool
Mr. L: awww… poor Willy
Mr. L: let me play a song on the world’s smallest violin for you
Leady: hahaha lool
Leady: this is definately going on the blog now
Leady: lol
Mr.L: I guess the problem is that it’s easy to compare games to Musou gameplay
Mr. L: but Musou story telling is what makes it unique
Mr. L: I think the fact that Koei has recycled the same story over and over is what has hurt Musou so much
Mr. L: because as long as the stories are unique, Musou can be very interesting
Mr.L: I think back to the Japanese RPG Seiken Densetsu 3

Multi-perspective JRPGs such a Seiken Densetsu 3 offer differing scenarios depending on which character the player chooses.

Mr. L: the sequel to Secret of Mana
Mr. L: in that game you chose 3 of 6 characters to take with you as your party for the entire game
Mr. L: and based on your main character you end up with one of 6 unique prelude scenes and one of 3 final areas and boss sequences
Mr. L: As such, even though the middle is the same for all the characters, it feels like you are fighting for different reasons based on who you choose
Mr. L: and you have a different “really bad thing” on the line
Mr. L: Perspective is just something that is missing in western games…
Leady: ah i c
Mr. L: either the central character is a blank slate for the player to fill, or a single fleshed out character with no alternate characters to choose from
Leady: Remember Shining Force 3 on Saturn?

Probably one of the dumbest moves I have ever made in my life was trading in all 3 parts of Shining Force 3 on Saturn for a Dreamcast Pad and VMU. I have never traded-in a game since then...

Leady: It had 3 different scenario missions
Leady: sorry, disks
Mr. L: I recall Shining Force for Genesis, not Saturn
Leady: the Saturn one
Leady: had 3 disks
Leady: one for each character and his party
Leady: so each disk was an individual part of a main story
Mr. L: neat
Leady: then at the end all three characters and parties came together
Leady: for the big fight. (saved data crossed between games)
Mr. L: though japanese again :P
Mr. L: very neat
Mr. L: I approve
Leady: It was awesome

So that was the exert from our discussion. We went a bit off topic and got into JRPGs at the end there but I think it shows that while other games contain certain similarities the Musou formula remains quite unique – it’s either an inimitable piece of know-how to Koei or no other games company sees any profit in trying to copy it!

Leady247 ^^

4 responses to “Musou Outtakes part 1: Western Musou games?

  1. In hindsight, I think the Gauntlet series by Midway would be another good western Musou-style game that misses out on the perspective storytelling. Though as we discussed later, Warcraft 1 + 2 are good examples of the storytelling, but not gameplay.

    • yer, you’re right Gauntlet is pretty close. We can include the Warcraft parts in your main interview ^^ Will send over the questions to your gmail.

  2. Let’s wait on Dead Island and see if there’s enough zombie killing action to make that a “western musou.”

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