What makes a Musou? – Part 1 (Introduction)

(before I start I should that in this blog I am referring to all of what Koei’s ‘Warriors’ titles as ‘Musou’ – mainly because it sounds a lot better)

Losing my Musou Virginity:

I have been playing Koei’s Musou games for almost 5 years now – I remember vividly the first one I played. It was Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends….

….I was given the game to test and left alone in a room with a ps2, a tv and a copy of the game. It was a baffling 30 minutes. I remember having no idea which option to choose on the menu screen and being confused by the game-map. When I finally managed to get into a battle I was playing as some guy that could shoot lasers out of his fan, other characters were babbling on randomly every few seconds, the camera was all over the place and nothing I was doing seemed to result in anything particularly exciting happening. I couldn’t really see the appeal I have to admit! (tbf I thought it was a load of bollocks).

Do they games make any sense to the uninitiated?

Discovering KoeiWarriors:

After my first Musou encounter I took a copy of Dynasty Warriors 4 and Samurai Warriors: Xtreme Legends home with me and over a couple of days started to play more.

Researching the games online I found a website called KoeiWarriors, peeked into its forums and was amazed to find this burgeoning community that had taken Musou gamers as its hobby and obsession.

From reading the forums and post-it notes stuck on my wall I began to try to map which Musou game elements were driving this community’s energy. I was fascinated by how the KoeiWarriors users were consuming and disseminating the content of Musou games. It made me realize that there were many ways to enjoy game content that I had not previously considered.

I was also struck by the gender mix of the forums – a much higher percentage of female players than I was expecting.

This site will change your life...

The Fans vs the Media

Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet many well-known Musou game fans from across the world and spoken to them at length about why they enjoy this series.

I have also spent a lot of time reading the largely negative opinions of the Western videogame media towards Musou games. Koei’s series of games have long been the whipping boys of the industry – providing a great excuse for journalists to indulge their critical streaks.

I have thought a lot about why there is such a disconnect between the dedication of the series’ fans and the opinions of wider gamers and journalists. Over time I have come to the opinion that the appealing points of a Musou game are so far from those that are considered in the West to constitute ‘a worthwhile/good game’ that we are very unlikely to ever see a change in the status-quo.

What I’m going to try to do…..:

I decided to write these articles to give non-Musou game fans a porthole into what makes these games popular and I really hope maybe a lens by which to judge them in future.

Over the years I have heard Musou games described a ‘hack ‘n slash’, ‘crowd clearing’, ‘Tactical Action’, ‘1 v 1000’ and most recently ‘Character Action’. My opinion is that none of those labels are broad enough to accurately describe what makes a Musou game.

There are many different types of Musou game, even ones with giant robots ^^

Musou to me is a fairly rigid formula – though the ratios of each element may change from game to game. In these articles I want describe what I believe are the 5 key features that make a Musou game and what makes these features consistently appealing to fans of the series.

In my opinion these are the 5 Ingredients of the Musou formula:

1. Theme
2. Character Action
3. Tactical Action
4. Music
5. Community

I think each one of these features could take a number of blogs so I am not sure whether I am biting off more than I can chew here but I will give it a good go!

All opinions and feedback are really welcome – I would love it if this project could be collaborative.

Advertisements

15 responses to “What makes a Musou? – Part 1 (Introduction)

  1. I played Dynasty Warriors 1, didn’t fancy it. But the very first Musou experience is Dynasty Warriors 3 which I had no idea what the fuck was that all about. Until I got attracted to some of its music and decided to learn the map and charge moves and got addicted since then. It’s a game for a very casual gamer when you have stress you just press whatever you want to kill all the bitches.

  2. I think the music is really important part to get people into the game. More so than other games ^^

  3. First Warriors game I played was the second one. I was really young, around 8 or 9 when I first played it. I loved it. It quickly became my most favouite game even when I was surrounded by Final Fantasy, Tekken and other games. Everytime there was a new instalment to the series, I literally begged my parents to buy it for me, and they always did. Dynasty Warriors stuck with me through the years, then spread the Samurai Warriors, then to Warriors Orochi and so on. Any KOEI game is aces in my book. I love them all, and couldn’t care what critics think. They’re just a bunch of stuck-ups. Unless the game is one of their shoot-em-ups, or their gang games. I’m glad you’re trying your hand at this and letting others know about these games =)

  4. I began with DW3, it was so difficult but awesome, I remenbered DW3 XL so so so hard!!! but now after playing SW2, you couldn’t go for DW again, it would be just like a step backward.
    I love the reference to Koeiwarriors, this website is awesome, I remembered the first time some contacts there introduced me to Insp Chin, he was like a god there and I was like “Oh My God, I’m chatting to the mighty Insp Chin” there were a lots of bad ass in the forum but among all, that website has a really good community.

  5. I began with DW3, it was so difficult but awesome, I remenbered DW3 XL so so so hard!!! but now after playing SW2, you couldn’t go for DW again, it would be just like a step backward.
    I love the reference to Koeiwarriors, this website is awesome, I remembered the first time some contacts there introduced me to Insp Chin, he was like a god there and I was like “Oh My God, I’m chatting to the mighty Insp Chin” there were a lots of bad ass in the forum but among all, that website has a really good community.

    Oops it was me not Will, don’t know why my laptop always logged to his account

  6. “I couldn’t really see the appeal I have to admit! (tbf I thought it was a load of bollocks).”

    they are a load of bollocks!:P

  7. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Dynasty Warriors series ever since I first picked up the second edition. I’ve spent countless hours on 2, 3, 4, and I just now have gotten back into DW5. Personally it’s my favorite in the entire series, and 6 was a big let down in my opinion. Good luck on writing these articles.

  8. My first experience was DW4, and it went very similarly to what you described in your post! Unfortunately while I always wanted to spend more time with it and uncover the greatness, I just never managed somehow. Actually looking back I think that was because I didn’t own a PS2 at the time ^^. Looking forward to uncovering the greatness via Leady247 in 2010!

  9. I’ve played every Dynasty Warriors game (and Samurai Warriors), though I play so many games I have trouble remembering which is which! My personal favourite was the first one ported to Xbox 360, Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires I think it was. I loved the added strategy layer brought in by the territory/clan management between battles. It may have been basic, but it was very addictive.

    As for what genre the franchise best fits into? I’ve always felt the games were an evolution of the scrolling beat-’em-up template; a modernisation of the likes of Streets of Rage and Final Fight. Similar to the God of War series, the DW games have taken that basic formula and reinterpreted it into a three-dimensional world, but while the God of War games drive for the spectacle, DW games drive for the addictive combat mechanics.

    Anyone, enough rambling! This was an interested read, and I’m looking forward to part two!

    • Thanks Kev J. Glad that you liked the article. I am also a fan of the Empires off-shoots (especially Samurai Warriors 2: Empires). I agree that there is a lot of FF and Streets of Rage in the Musou formula but I believe there is alot of other stuff there too. For sure lacking the spectacle of a God of War is a weakness of the series when it comes to expectations of Western journos sometimes (maybe the bosses in Warriors: Legends of Troy will go someway to appeasing them?). I have written part two of this article on my blackberry just need to get 30mins to transfer it onto my PC ^^. Thanks for reading.

  10. Pingback: 2010 in review | leady247

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s