Sinclair User

Dynasty Wars
By U. S. Gold
Spectrum 48K

Published in Sinclair User #100

Dynasty Wars

Shang Fei stands in the middle of a bridge brandishing his snake halberd (oo-er), and thousands of enemies are routed. Lui Bei is descended from Emperor Kel of the Han Dynasty. He swears to be brothers with Kuan Yu and Shange Fei to defeat Huang Ching. And they're the biggest jessie-boys of the ancient Orient - some of the characters in Dynasty Wars are REALLY hard!

Dynasty Wars is a fab conversion of a coin-op which I must admit I haven't played (I'm getting a bit old to spend my evenings hanging around arcades). But from what I've seen, it's a pretty skill conversion job, and while the full marvellousness of the inter-screen graphics haven't been retained, the non-stop violence of the game itself is well up to scratch (or up to slash).

It's basically a horizontally-scrolling hack'n'slash epic, but the gimmick is that while your opponents are largely on foot, you're on a thundering great horse, and equipped with a variety of lovely weapons including a death-dealing fire-lance. You might think this makes things too easy, but not on your bowl of noodles! The baddies bombard you with arrows, lances and axes, and on later levels (there are eight of them) you have to deal with horsemen, catapults and fireballs. The animation of your trotting horse is completely boss - the background scrolls along a bit jerkily until you reach the next killing-ground, then stops until you've cleared the area of peasant scumbags.

Dynasty Wars

You can choose any of the four characters to play, but it doesn't seem to make an enormous difference. What does make a difference is if you're in two-player mode; it's a lot easier to turn the baddies into chop-suey if you have some help from another horseman.

Like an R-Type clone, your fire-lance is charged up by holding down the fire-button, waiting until a sliding scale indicates that its at the required level of blaziness, then it's discharged by releasing the button. It whips out over your head and blazes boiling death at the baddies - lovely! Trouble is, you have to be lined up properly with them - your horsey moves in and out of the screen, and you must be at the right depth to hit the target. This is the tricky bit. Get it right, though - galloping around to avoid arrows, lining up your shot and letting go, and the peasants tumble into oblivion.

Your strength and treasure are indicated by readouts on the top of the screen, and you can replenish them by picking up treasure-chests and other tokens. The only problems with DW are that the end-of-level nasties are nothing to split your chopsticks over, and each level is very much the same; the background graphics are nicely-detailed but monochrome, and after a couple of levels things get a bit tedious. A bigger selection of different weapons, more variation in the baddies or even the backgrounds would have made it a whole new bowl of crispy duck.

Overall Summary

Fast-moving and spicy Oriental slasher. Suffers from some over-complex graphics.

Chris Jenkins

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