I’ve known Ranger Ryu for a good while – getting on for 5 years now I think. When we first met we were both members of the Koei.com forums, since then he has moved up to the role of moderator.
Ryu’s one of the many Musou fans that have taught me about the series and opened up Koei’s Pandora’s Box of franchise for my enjoyment – for that I would like to thank him ^^.
Ranger Ryu's name is taken from the lead character in Capcom's JRPG series 'Breath of Fire'.
Ranger Ryu has always been a crucial ‘ear-to-the-ground’ – keeping me up to date on the latest views and opinions of Musou fans as well as tracking pricing and merchandising of Koei products in his local game shops.
My main comment about Ranger Ryu is that he has a very keen eye for detail and can spot the spelling and factual errors on websites that other wouldn’t notice – he’s always popping up on my MSN to point out something! In fact I am sure the first thing he will say to me after reading this is ‘ummm…Leady…yunno there is alot of spelling mistakes in that article!’ (that’s why I’ve read through this article like 3 times before posting it!).
Ranger Ryu uses Yurika from Nadesico as his MSN avatar. I have known him so long I have come associate him with her face!
As an experienced Musou player and also someone that is very in-touch with the current thinking of the community I thought he would be a perfect choice for my second ‘Musou to Me’ interview (if you want to read the first one with the loverly Gischie it’s right here).
Anyway on with the (epic in length and full of insight) Ranger Ryu show:
So Ryu, when did you play your first Musou game?
I played the demo of the first Dynasty Warriors (PS1) game on the Official PlayStation Magazine demo disc which if I’m honest I didn’t actually like. …
As for the first time I played a DW game and loved it ….that would be the demo of Dynasty Warriors 3 which was also included on an Official PlayStation Magazine demo disk.
Can you remember any of your first impressions of the game?
Really addictive. There’s something about hitting countless AI soldiers that just makes you want to keep coming back for more – plus the variety in the character’s move-sets made each character someone whose story mode you wanted to complete even if they did go through the same battles as others.
The DW3 generation character designs converted many people to Musou fandom ^^ (above are the guys that joined the playable crew for DW3: XL)
Did you research outside of the game to find out more about the Three Kingdoms theme?
At first I didn’t – mainly due to the fact I didn’t have a PC at home back then.
My research started once I had played Romance of the Three Kingdoms VIII. I read through the character bios in the game and that made me want to research each of them and Kingdoms they fought for.
Where you playing Romance of the Three Kingdoms VIII simultaneously with DW3? I think they both came out in the UK in 2005 right?
DW3 actually came out in March 2002 and RTK 8 in 2004 – but yes I was playing them at the same time.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms VIII is quite a rare game in the UK despite it being released as a budget game. Where did you buy it?
HMV, Church Street, Liverpool. Actually Leady, it was a full price release first, then it was released on budget.
This is Liverpool branch of HMV where Ranger Ryu picked up his first RTK game ^^
You play both RTK and Warriors games – so is the Three Kingdoms setting a really key part of the enjoyment to you?
It’s more of a case that I liked strategy games since the PS1 days…games like the Command and Conquer series.
So once I got into the DW universe a strategy game based on the Three Kingdoms period became a natural thing to love.
Plus RTK helped expand my knowledge of the era. RTK8 went further into the timeline then DW did, for example including ‘The Fall of Shu’ in 263 AD.
When would you say you became a Musou fan?
From the first time I played the DW3 demo I was hooked. Even though you couldn’t finish the level (Nanman Campaign) in the time limit allocated I didn’t care. I explored the whole thing – even going down the different paths in the level rather than the centre.
Then I picked up the full version of DW3 from HMV and couldn’t stop playing it.
After that I started to pick-up all the Musou games, firstly DW3: Xtreme Legends and then on and on.
The DW3 Nanman Map that Ranger Ryu got addicted to ^^ (click through to koeiwarriors.co.uk for more)
How have your impressions of Musou changed since those early days?
The change from a Soul Blade clone, 1 v 1 fighting game to the Musou game it is now was a really great choice by Koei.
As the DW series went on the graphics obviously got better, as well as the character designs and voice acting. I prefer to listen to the characters in English rather than Japanese – actually playing DW3 in French helped me revise for my GCSE French Listening exam.
The story cut-scenes have greatly improved – actually I thought that was one things Dynasty Warriors 6 did quite well.
‘Only thing that lets the series down now in my opinion is the AI of the soldiers – in DW2 and 3 they were so very aggressive but now they just stand around and wait to be hit.
You said the cut-scenes in DW6 worked well for you. What was it about the scenes in that game that improved over past examples?
They featured deeper looks at the characters than previous games, going into their feelings about the era they were in and their motivations. There is one scene where Sun Quan is talking with Lu Xun and Quan is talking about his vision for the land once it’s united under his rule….that sort of thing is cool.
What would you say are the key things to making a good Musou game?
Mostly it’s the AI of the enemy soldiers – it needs to be challenging without being too cheap. Actually, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam was an improvement over recent Musous in that regard.
Musou games also need interesting character’s. I don’t want to play a story mode as say “generic general number two” or something. I need to have a good story with drama. I especially liked Sun Shang Xiang’s story mode in DW6 where at Yi Ling she was torn between her husband Liu Bei and her brother Sun Quan.
The Double Zeta maybe a powerhouse but the DWG series has some aggressive enemy AI...
Can you elaborate on the AI in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam?
The AI in the DW: Gundam games seems to return to when the AI was good in the Warriors series – around DW3 and 4. The fights against the boss Mobile Suits were especially tough too, the hardest opponents were people like Haman Khan but maybe that’s mostly down to the Quebley…
When do you usually play Musou games?
Whenever I can really, though mostly it’s in the night or at weekends when I have the most free time.
Do you just play when a new game comes out? Or do you play the old ones as well?
I play the old ones alot, mostly DW3 and Samurai Warriors 2. Even though DW3 has better AI I would say I’ve put the most time into SW2….about 149 hours actually – that’s about 6 days!
What is it that makes Samurai Warriors 2 so good?
I like the characters more and as there are less of them in total than in DW you can concentrate more on each individual character. The levels are better designed in my opinion as well.
Also the Sengoku setting allows for more varied characters and weapons – the time period of SW is 1,300 years after DW. You get units and characters using weapons like muskets for example. It just makes the characters move-sets alot more varied than in DW.
I also liked the narration idea that was introduced in SW where someone would explain what was going on and that it was tailored to whichever character you were using at the time.
Like many other Musou fans, Ranger Ryu claims SW2 is the best the Musou series has to offer.
At which stage where you introduced to the SW series? It seems to me that many people start off their Musou journey with DW and then end up moving across to SW…
I got into DW first, yes, specifically DW3 and the DW4 series (starting with DW4: Empires). After that I picked up the first SW game and I quite liked it especially the idea of the the alternative paths within the story mode.
Can you elaborate on the narration element of SW2 that you liked?
When you play a stage in the story mode a narrator sets the scene for the battle and the events leading up to it.
I like this because it sets the general scene and you get a sense of where you stand at that point in history – specifically what your character is doing. For example: setting the scene for the battle of Anegawa, if you’re playing as, say, Magoichi Saika explaining why you’re there.
Magoichi Saika - why does he go anywhere?
Do you play each Musou game for a long time?
Yes, I do.
What keeps you addicted to the game and makes you keep playing?
Really it’s to see what the development team – Omega Force – comes up with next to improve the series. Although now we can say that Renbu in DW6 was a mistake! It looks like they’ve corrected their mistakes for DW7 though, which I’m really looking forward too.
Have you ever played multi-player mode in a Musou game?
Yes, I have with my friend. Mostly co-op though I’ve not played the online modes in DW:Gundam 2 or DW:Strikeforce on the PS3 yet.
Did you try Dynasty Warriors:Strikeforce multi-player?
I did on the PSP, yes, it greatly improves the game from the single-player experience.
DW: Strikeforce PSP is currently the pinnacle of co-op for the series. It will be interesting to see if DW7 can match it.
Have you played any of the next-gen Musou games such as DW6, Gundam or FNS?
Yes, I’ve played DW6 and Gundam. I didn’t really like the demo for Fist of the North Star though…maybe I need to give it another shot….
I loved Gundam though as I’ve seen the series on Toonami, Gundam Wing.
How do you think these ‘next-gen’ games differ than from the older games?
Gameplay wise it’s still the same style we fans know and love but as usual with advancing technology the cut-scenes are far better now than they used to be.
Do you have any ideas for future Musou games?
Until I try out DW7’s new gameplay ideas I can only comment on the older games….but improve characters move-sets – i.e no clones!
And improve the storytelling. As I’ve said before the cut-scenes in DW6 were a move in the right direction for me.
Of course the most important thing is to work on the AI some more!
Will Dynasty Warriors 7 have what it takes to make fans dreams come true?
It seems like you want the both the story and the gameplay experience improved – could you possibly say which is more important to your enjoyment of Musou: the story or the gameplay?
I would say the gameplay. If the gameplay wasn’t good you wouldn’t want to carry on with the game just to see some improved cut-scenes…
When you say you want the AI improved do you mean you just would like the game to be more difficult or do you mean you want the enemy troops and officers to react more realistically to your actions? One of the appealing parts of the older Musou games to me was that you really felt like your actions were affecting the course of a larger battle….
I would like the troops and officers to react to your actions as well as the state of their own unit. Like fighting harder if they have more morale. If they had less morale then they’d be less aggressive. I’d like to see more incentive for you to lower the morale of enemy units.
Have you brought any merchandise connected to Musou?
Have you made any friends in the Musou community online?
Yes, I have, my fellow moderators on the koei.com forums, Yue Fei, Ma Su, Sleipner, SteelDragon, Sun and Steel and you too (awesome guy! [ty ty – Ed]).
How about in real life?
Not really, no, as I don’t get a chance to go to any of the expos that Tecmo Koei Europe go to (I’d like to though someday!)
If you're a Musou fan in the UK, you can meet up with the Tecmo Koei team at the various expos they attend across the country.
If you could give a message to non-Musou fans about why they should try the game, what would you say?
Just try it, ignore the reviews – except Eurogamer’s as they like the series – you may like it in the end. Some games you just have to try to like them.
If you could give a message to development team of Musou what you say?
Improve the AI!
Who would you say is your all-time favourite Musou game character?
Hmmm….tough choice but I’d have to go with Ginchiyo Tachibana. I like her moveset and story of being a Lord in Kyushu whose family have been fighting the Shimazu clan. Also using lightning element in her attacks makes fighting crowds easier.
Ginchiyo Tachibana - probably Koei's finest hour in terms of character design. Why-oh-why can't they produce female characters as iconic and powerful anymore? It said alot of good about the company's ethos that they could create strong female characters....they need to get back to that!
What is your favourite Musou game and why?
Samurai Warriors 2, for the reasons I mentioned earlier – plus conversations between characters are enjoyable especially anything involving Magoichi Saika:“a guy, er you sure about that?”.
Thanks Ranger Ryu – that was truly an epic interview!
‘Hope everyone enjoyed that – I will have another ‘Musou to Me’ interview up soon…so watch this space! (if you want to join in just leave me a comment ^^).
Leady 247 ^^