Warriors All-Stars review code provided by publisher
Given the many offshoots of Omega Force’s Warriors series over the years, it felt almost inevitable that one day there would be a single game that attempted to amass characters and settings from them to produce a classic Musou with a host of familiar faces. Warriors All-Stars is a stab at that idea, and it does indeed meld a whole bunch of characters and settings, just not necessarily the ones you’d expect or hope for.
Warriors All-Stars creates an original story, and throws in a few new original characters, all to tie in the more established names. A world has been thrust into peril due to the diminishing power of a magical Spring. Heeding the words of her mother, young Princess Tamaki seeks to fulfill a prophecy by gathering heroes from other worlds to revive the shrines that will rebirth the Spring. Unfortunately the ritual to bring the heroes to her land goes a teensy bit awry, and they are scattered across the land. Now Tamaki and a few familiar faces must find the remaining heroes whilst engaging in epic battles across the land. You know, that old chestnut. Also Tamaki and her royal siblings are also squabbling, which leads to much of the warring you’ll be getting stuck into. Eventually, the heroes will be divided between the warring factions of Tamaki’s family, all out to gain rule over the world, even if it means ruling a world in ashes.
So what sort of series regulars and the like can you expect to see? Well for starters, don’t go in hoping for much in the way of licensed spinoff characters for the Musou series. So no Dragon Quest, no Beserk, no Fist of the North Star, and obviously nothing straight outta Hyrule. It makes sense, mainly because it would be a licensing nightmare, but being ‘All-Stars’ it would have been neat to see the odd character from at least Dragon Quest.
What you do get is still a healthy enough roster, and isn’t merely restrained to previous Warriors titles, but rather parent company Koei Tecmo’s own roster of titles.. Dynasty Warriors gets a few naturally, including Zhao Yun and Lu Bu. Elsewhere we have representation from Samurai Warriors, Toukiden, Atelier, Dead or Alive, Deception, Nights of Azure, Ninja Gaiden, Nioh, and more. All-Stars makes good use of its roster variety by letting you pick a character and have them accompanied by a quartet of other heroes to act as back up in battle. It’s a pleasant novelty to rock up into battle with a team featuring the likes of Lu Bu, Ryu Hayabusa, Kasumi, Yukimura Sanada, and Oka. By using certain characters together in a group more often, you can build up their relationship, and make them a more effective force in battle by improving upon the team up moves.
Despite some differing art styles for different series characters, they’re just close enough to not truly feel out of place in the overall design of Tamaki’s world, yet enough that they feel alien in the way they should for the benefit of the story. It’s suitably daft as a result, and a bit of light-hearted action is definitely a bit fresher than the usual po-faced sensibilities.
The game itself is business as usual. The combat is as outwardly simple yet deceptively deep as ever, and knocking seven bells out of a horde of enemies with one swipe is a pleasingly calming as aggressive action can get. It’s less ‘ain’t broke don’t fix it’ at this point and more ‘we dare not touch this’. If you want innovation and not celebration, All-Stars isn’t going to scratch that itch (Dynasty Warriors 9 might be the one to do that properly). Does it need to innovate? Not entirely. Should it? Probably, but it’s a bit easier for fans to let it slide in a game that is celebrating a cache of franchises in a daft manner. All the same, this really should be the last time we see a Musou in the old mould.
It’s ironic then, that an actual change is one of the worst decisions for All-Stars. The world map from which you select missions and side ops is, on the surface, a nice change, but it’s so cluttered with so much pointless busywork that it feels very much like it’s there for the sake of copying a very overdone Western design trope. It doesn’t help that so many of the side missions are utterly banal in both presentation and execution. Considering this is rather brief for a Musou, having so much of it padded with filler missions really lessens the enjoyment.
So on the one hand, Warriors All-Stars is a daft, light Musou with some nice character variety. On the other, it’s business as usual at a time when the future of said business has relocated and expanded. Couple that with a backwards mission map, and far too many pointless missions, and this equals one of the more disappointing releases from Omega Force.