Amstrad Action


Dynasty Wars

Author: Trenton Webb
Publisher: U. S. Gold
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #59

Dynasty Wars

"Do not despise the snake for having no horns, for who is to say that it will not become a dragon", an old Chinese proverb says. Gibberish it may sound, but it's true. For it is writ large in the legends of feudal China that four warriors overthrew an empire. They were considered harmless, the last remnants of the fallen Han Clan, but they became the legend known as the Dynasty Wars.

Individually they had no power, but fighting in two pairs they had the power to defeat the rebellious warlords who had dethroned their family. Now you have a chance to wreak havoc and let loose the dogs of the Dynasty Wars, and control these warriors on their quest for bloody vengeance.

Dynasty Wars

The four Hans ride horseback into a horizontally-scrolling battlefield. They carry horseman's halberds with which to overcome their opponents. They're usually run-of-the-mill peasant conscripts and they provide no real challenge to the might of the seasoned soldiers of the Han clan. They attack with arrows and swords but only need a quick poke in the head to cut them down. Admittedly, they do come in waves but even these don't pose much of a threat.

The black sheep of this wimpy family, how-ever, are the Generals. They ride horses and have weapons every bit as pokey as your own. They take an awful lot of killing, but with careful planning and deft riding they soon eat dirt, just like their troops.

In attack the hero you've selected - one of four on offer - can either fire short stabbing shots or, by holding the Fire button down, save up a real meaty blast. The little hits are good enough for the foot soldiers but the Generals deserve every bit of of saved power you can muster.

Dynasty Wars

Shooting off the spear shots couldn't be easier - just line up the horse with the enemy and release the Fire button. The horses limit the direction of fire to forward and back, so the only thing to watch as you scroll along is how much power you've got in reserve and make sure you're in line with any incoming foes.

Dynasty Warriors also have another trick up their sleeve; tactics. In real life this would mean sneaking up behind the bad boys and slaying them with the aid of surprise. In China, tactics means magic. Using arcane powers (and a keypress), the Hans can call in either a firestorm or a rock slide. These are fatal for the ordinary footslogger, damaging to the generals and only cost you a few hit points to cast! The only disadvantage is that you have to wait until the tactics option is available, when a message appears by the score tables.

Each of the four warriors has special abilities and weaknesses. Generally, the harder they can hit something the fewer hit points - displayed on an analogue energy bar - they get. Both damage potiential and damage resis-tance can be improved by collecting orbs and shiny new spears during the battle. That's it. A chop-'em-up on horseback that consists of eight levels and one life per player.

Dynasty Wars

The enemy, while not dangerous individually, wear you down eventually by sheer force of numbers. It's diverting, with some smart 'Akira' style pics at the front end and a refreshingly different tune through out the game. The concept - albeit borrowed from the arcade original - is different too. taking the beat-'em-up genre for a a quick canter. But the game itself is dull. Kill the footsoldiers too quickly and you have to sit around and wait for the screen to scroll on.

At the end of a level, life gets confusing as the sprites all merge into a seething, sword-waving mass. A necessary evil, as the range of colour is sacrificed for good graphics, but even bearing this is mind the problem's a problem all the same.

Dynasty Wars claims to re-tell the most bloodstained chapter in history, but if that's the case feudal China looks quite a nice place to spend your summer hols. The backgrounds are pretty (good skiing on Level Three) and there's plenty of time to sightsee. And travel's easy if you find the keypress cheat...

Second Opinion

Dynasty Wars

Looks really impressive at first, so it's a shame the gameplay ultimately doesn't live up to the graphics. An original and interesting game, though.

First Day Target Score

Finish Level Three.

Green Screen View

Life gets even more confusing in a crowd.

Verdict

Dynasty Wars

Graphics 71% P. Small, but detailed horsey sprites and riders. N. Large groups get muddled with the backdrop.

Sonics 77% P. Good, original game theme.

Grab Factor 71% P. Moderate pace and easy gameplay means instant appeal.

Staying Power 41% N. Killing gets repetitive after a while. N. Only one life!

Overall 72% P. Inventive, if slightly tame conversion.

Trenton Webb

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