(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).
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.
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.
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:
2. Character Action
3. Tactical Action
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.