Warning: I try to make things non-referency as possible but some fluency with the broad-scale events of the Three Kingdoms novel will be very helpful interpreting this post’s specifics.
Alright, so I’m actually a big Dynasty Warriors series fan. Almost all the Musou games, actually; the exception is Hokuto no Ken Musou (“Fist of the North Star”) and Troy Musou which are just kind of… too bloody for me. I guess considering I racked up 6000 kills in one battle of DW8 over the weekend that seems hypocritical? I’d like to think my aversion to video game blood is because I understand the consequences of RL violence rather than the other way around. Anyhow.
Much like my thoughts on Project X Zone, I don’t necessarily think New! Refreshing! Gameplay! Systems! is the draw of the Musou series (by the way, the word “Musou” is Japanese for “without equal/peer,” hence the Japanese name of the series, “Sangoku Musou,” means “One without equal in the Three Kingdoms”). In fact, much like I described PXZ as being, the Musou games have been a steady motion of iteration with increasingly small but steadily better changes… except DW6, which changed everything and which everyone pretty much hated. So there’s that. Rather, I think the fun of the games is seeing what twists on the theme the new game brings, what new characters become playable (or change), and that sort of thing. As someone who’s read the unabridged Three Kingdoms twice and abridged versions four times, I find the DW series to be like watching the campy anime version of this book I love.
Now, without implying that women characters are absent or unimportant in Chinese historical fiction — I don’t think that’s true — it is fair to say that women, as a whole, don’t play a lot of importance in the Three Kingdoms novel. Yet even back in the day when the first Dynasty Warriors, a 3D weapons fighter that wasn’t really very good but was fun in its own way, happened, Koei (and developer Omega Force) added one of the novel’s only prominent woman characters, Diaochan, as a fighter:
As far as playable fighting game women go, she’s not actually that bad. She’s not underpowered, she’s wearing a reasonable outfit, and the weapons she uses — called chúi — are not from the list of Approved Girl Fighter Weapons (e.g. whips, kitchen utensils). Her ending is a little groan-worthy but at least it directly refs her role in the novel. So what’s the problem? Well, if you want to know, read on after the jump: