Dynasty Warriors and its spin-offs have been around ever since 1997, and have been crystal clear in what they want to be. Pure power fantasies, with you donning the role of a mighty warrior capable of felling thousands of soldiers. They’re not profound, creative or have mass appeal – but there’s nothing else that hits quite the same. The 9 core games are based off of the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which itself is inspired by real conflicts in ancient China.
But Dynasty Warriors has actually extended its reach far beyond historical China. Indeed, there are almost as many Dynasty Warriors spin-offs as there have been mainline entries! Not only are these spin-offs rooted in other historical settings, but also famous franchises far more familiar to gamers. Did you enjoy Hyrule Warriors, or it’s sequel Age of Calamity? Then you’ve been enjoying a Dynasty Warriors game, possibly without even realising! These Dynasty Warriors spin-offs always seem to fare better than their mainline brethren, for some reason. So, with that in mind, here’s 10 franchises that would work great with a Warriors-style musou game.
Like A Dragon
Like A Dragon, formerly known in the West as the Yakuza series, has always been about laying the smackdown. However, starting from 2020’s excellent Yakuza: Like A Dragon!, the mainline games have shifted to turn-based combat. While the Judgement side series promised to continue the traditional brawling gameplay, it’s seemingly disappeared for now. As such, a musou-style game featuring Kiryu and co. could be a fun way to return to the series roots.
Like a Dragon has a history of weird and wonderful spin-offs, such as Yakuza: Dead Souls. As such, a Dynasty Warriors-style spin-off doesn’t feel that far fetched at all. Of course, the standard modern setting would be the best way to do this. Yakuza has featured spin-offs in historical Japan, but a musou like that may steer too close to the Samurai Warriors series. But as far as the modern setting goes – imagine Kiryu or Ichiban sending a whole horde of gangsters through a shop window at once. The wild and unrealistic abilities seen in the series can finally be let off the leash in such a game.
After over 30 years, these teenagers with attitude are still going strong. If you want proof, they just recently dropped a fanservice-filled movie on Netflix. But given that the show is already about a group of palette-swapped superheroes fighting hordes of foot soldiers, a Dynasty Warriors tie-in sounds like a match made in heaven! Enemies in Warriors games aren’t known for their aggressiveness, much like the average putty patroller in a fight scene. With over 30 different teams of rangers to draw from, there’s no shortage of inspiration for playable characters either.
As far as major deviations from the musou formula goes, the only big one would be fitting in the megazords. Historical China wasn’t known for its giant robots, but if incorporated correctly, it would easily be the best Power Rangers game ever made (or perhaps tied with Battle for the Grid). Of course, if you want to get technical, there was already a musou Power Rangers game of sorts…specifically, in the form of a Japan-only Super Sentai game. While Super Sentai shows are typically localised into America’s Power Rangers, they wisely left that game where they found it.
Whenever a fictional character performs an incredible feat, one question is on the internet’s mind; can they beat Goku? Son Goku – and most Dragon Ball characters for that matter – can rend entire planets with their powers. As such, it stands to reason that they can take out a wave of footsoldiers with a basic Kamehameha. There’s certainly no shortage of characters either, as the myriad of prior Dragon Ball games have taught us. Altogether, it points to a great candidate for a Dynasty Warriors spin-off.
In terms of roadblocks, accommodating the ability for characters and enemies to fly may be the major one. However, if done right, being able to fly around while taking on hundreds of enemies might be the breath of fresh air that the Warriors series needs. There’s already a precedent for anime being adapted to musous as well! Just look at Fist of the North Star, or the very successful One Piece: Pirate Warriors series. Budokai Tenkaichi 4 could turn out to be the ultimate Dragon Ball game, but a musou could be the most entertaining.
Having a Marvel Warriors spin-off wouldn’t be too far detached from the idea of a Dragon Ball one. However, there’s definitely a lot more character diversity in Marvel’s roster than Dragon Ball’s. From Iron Man’s energy blasts to Hawkeye’s precision shots and HULK SMASH! Marvel has had a ton of crossover games, such as the Ultimate Alliance series. As such, a Warriors game would fit right in.
Of course, Marvel has a ton of characters – way too many for any videogame that I can imagine. Maybe even too big for Warriors standards, but it’d be them if anyone can choose a good roster. Hopefully, a Warriors spin-off starring Marvel characters would be more like what people wanted out of Square Enix’s failed attempt at Marvel’s Avengers. Such a game has been rumoured, though it sadly seemed to have been a hoax that time.
Arguably the most legendary JRPG series of all time, Final Fantasy is about to hit 16 mainline games. You can probably guess where this is going – that’s a lot of characters. Square Enix have brought the characters together in the beloved Dissidia fighting games before. As such, perhaps a Final Fantasy Warriors spin-off could find itself attached to that side series.
Again, other big JRPG series have jumped in the musou pool already. Omega Force themselves made the Dragon Quest Heroes duology, which were pretty solid. Bandai Namco also made a Tales of Warriors-like with Tale of the Heroes: Twin Brave. It’s rare to see Final Fantasy playing catch-up, but this would be a great IP to see bearing the Warriors name. Plus, it might be a rare chance to see classic series characters in a modern game once more. After all, not every game can get the same love as Final Fantasy VII…
One of the most popular media franchises in the world, Transformers has reinvented itself many times since 1984. Whether you’re a fan of the original cartoon, or Michael Bay’s divisive blockbusters, there’s an awful lot of the robots in disguise. They’ve made the jump to video games before, of course. High Moon Studios’ War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron were some of the best third-person shooters of the PS3/X360 era. PlatinumGames then took the G1 cartoon and made it into the epic hack-and-slash Transformers Devastation. The latter game in particular made it clear that Transformers can work as a musou.
Running from army to army in Dynasty Warriors’ sprawling maps can be a pain without a horse. Being able to turn into a vehicle at will mitigates this entirely, leading to a much faster gameplay loop. Plus, there’s gotta be something cathartic about drifting into hundreds of robots at a time. The idea of kinetic-based combat is something sorely under-utilised in games, despite being a core principle of a good action scene. Utilising the vast array of Transformers in the form of a musou might just secure the series back into the realm of videogames.
Ok, so hear me out. The Matrix is known for it’s wild, over-the-top action sequences that spawned a generation of imitators. Now, also consider that scene from The Matrix Reloaded. You know exactly the one I’m thinking of, right? Neo taking down a bunch of Agent Smith clones in a rather infamous case of wonky CGI. Just…imagine a game of that. You imagining it? Good, need I really say more?
Well, I’m no Matrix expert, but I’m sure there can be some in-universe reason why Neo and co. are beating down an entire Warriors game’s worth of clones. Would it be the best use of the license? Probably not, but at the very least it could turn out better than most of the other, rather poor, Matrix video game tie-ins. Or better than the recent four-quel, for that matter.
Last year saw Kirby finally break into the realm of 3D with Kirby and the Forgotten Land. It was a fantastic entry that proved Kirby works great in 3D. So let’s take all that goodwill, and throw him into a musou right away! It worked for Zelda, after all! Considering how terrifyingly powerful Kirby can be when sucking up just one or two enemies at a time, what would happen if that reached the hundreds?
Having Kirby, Meta Knight and co. using their powers on such a large scale would somehow feel perfectly in line with what the series has shown us before, honestly. In particular, the Mouthful Mode mechanic from Forgotten Land could be expanded on to comical proportions. All things considered, Kirby would make a great addition to Zelda and Fire Emblem in the Nintendo Warriors spin-offs.
Star Wars has as many videogames out there as some of the big industry titans, and they’ve made one thing pretty clear. Jedi and Sith have some of the coolest power sets out there. From the cool lightsaber moves to fantastical force powers, some of the best Star Wars games focus on them. Take The Force Unleashed and the brand-new Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, for instance. As such, applying this powerset to a Dynasty Warriors spin-off could be insanely fun.
Of course, having a musou game featuring a vast array of characters with exaggerated abilities might be controversial. Given Disney’s push to make all Star Wars media canon, a Warriors game would stick out like a sore thumb. Additionally, the only other characters that might fit a musou beyond force users are bounty hunters, so variety might be a little lacking. Despite these hurdles, I’d love to see them try it regardless.
Rewind a bit back to where I talked about Transformers. Take that thing about kinetic combat, and amp it all the way up. Then make a Sonic game about it! Last year’s Sonic Frontiers was a surprising success for the struggling franchise, and one big change it made was a combat system. Playing it for myself, I couldn’t help but imagine it fitting well in a musou. Frontiers introduced the Cyloop, a technique that has Sonic run an enclosed circle around a group of enemies, stunning them and opening up room for a combo. This is a perfect basis to fit a Warriors spin-off into.
As far as how the rest of the game goes, Frontiers showed how platforming segments can fit into large open zones. While Dynasty Warriors definitely isn’t known for its platforming, it’s certainly possible to throw in some big jumps and the iconic loop-de-loops that seem to fill Sonic’s world. Another comparison would be the Werehog stages from Sonic Unleashed – though hopefully a Sonic Warriors game would play far, far better than those. Sonic hasn’t been as experimental with spin-offs as he used to be, so a musou could be a really fun return to those. Although, with this year’s excellent The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, you could say they’ve already started!
Omega Force have been busy with the likes of Wild Hearts as of late (which you can find some cool tips for here). This may mean that it could be a while before we next see new Dynasty Warriors spin-offs, or a main entry. Still, you can’t keep a good series down, and hopefully whenever it next pops up, it’ll be in the guise of one of these IPs. Any other franchises you think would be a good fit for the Warriors branding? Fire ’em off in the comments below! And in the meantime, if you want a taste of what a Dynasty Warriors title looks like, check this trailer for the most recent entry.