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GBA Review: Dynasty Warriors Advance

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To avoid the feeling of repetition, the Dynasty Warriors series created a reputation of providing pure visceral thrills. It’s unlike anything before it, even though the genre is ancient. That leads to questions like: What went wrong with this Game Boy Advance version? Whom had the idea to create a game so toned down and dull, that it barely resembles the game it’s based on?

It’s not that this portable rendition of the series doesn’t try. You’ll choose from one of nine warriors in ancient China and take out hundreds of adversaries before a level is over. Unlike the home consoles though, you’ll do this only a few at a time.

That leads to barren battlefields, plagued by a lack of enemies to take out on screen and a poorly implemented strategy map before the action starts. While the series has always had some underlying strategy underneath the hack n’ slash exterior, here it’s far more critical to pay attention. You’ll need to plan moves on the map wisely, one space at a time. Even though they’re toned down, struggles on a single map still take just as long as they did in the core series. There are no save points during the levels, and given their length, this is hardly adequate for a handheld title.

Another odd choice is the viewpoint, setting up a camera from above, leading to super-deformed sprites, limited animation, and minimal action. Why someone didn’t stop the development team and force them to use a familiar horizontal beat-em-up view is odd, since there is little (if any) advantage in using a viewpoint like this. This series is screaming for a 2-D entry along the lines of Capcom’s arcade classic Warriors of Fate, and at this rate, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Even with the obvious and frustrating flaws, this does feel like Dynasty Warriors, if only in brief spurts. Earning new weapons, powering them up, and unlocking a small group of hidden fighters is all still present. Combat, though severely limited by the control options, is still fast, hard, and brutal. It’s involving if you can take the repetitive nature of the game in long bursts with this style.

Sadly, most people won’t and it’s hard to believe a dedicated programmer couldn’t figure that out somewhere along the line. This is just not the console for the series unless they intensify the combat, offer a more natural viewpoint, and ditch the choppy grid-based gameplay. As it stands, this is a disappointing entry in a series that is slowly collapsing on top of itself. Someone needs to inject some fresh ideas and quick.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • joebert 15

    dynasty warriors 5 is the best game i have ever played.i could listen to the music forever. but i think you should have a character on wu with SAIS.I ALSO THINK IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA to have a bo staff and kama my favorite character is LING TONG. PLEASE have my ideas in the next game.