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US GOLD £19.99 * Joystick

China 184 AD. A group of soldiers murder wave after wave of weaker opponents. In response, the remnants of the Han clan lead this horizontally-scrolling quest for revenge through ancient China, splatting anything in sight.

The horseback heroes can either fire fast, stabbing short-range shots or store them up into one massively mean megablast.

The evil General's minions aren't tough; one quick poke in the head and they're history. Save up a big shot, by holding the fire button down, and a single blast can bag three at once. The end-of-level Generals are a different kettle of foe, though. They've mounts, decent armour and extremely large weapons. They'd pose no real problem if you could face them one on one, but they pop up when the screen's already undergone a population explosion.

This is where the Dynasty Warriors play their trump card - tactics! Rather like a medieval air strike, with rocks or fireballs instead of Napalm, magic cleanses the area. Tactics kill all normal folk and weaken the Generals, but leave you unharmed.

The four Han clan warriors who are on offer vary in ability, with the amount of damage they can take balanced inversely with the amount they dish out. A real big hitter is needed to waste the Generals, but a durable weak-weaponed guy has the advantage of surviving long enough to actually meet them. And of course famous warriors like these can't wander round with a wimp's weapon all their lives, so en route there are more powerful blades to collect and keep, as well as extra hit points which help to cure any warrior who is careless enough to get sliced.


The introductory screens create an atmosphere of legend and these pictures are echoed on the playing screen with animated faces that contort in anger and pain, but this level isn't carried into the battle. The backgrounds are excellent, but the playing area is too small to cram in the detail, especially at the end-of-level showdown: there are so many people on screen it's hard to know who you're killing. All very realistic, but not helpful.

Annoyingly, the music plays throughout the game. Not that the music is bad - it's atmospheric, if a tad up-tempo. The irritant is simply the fact that there are no sound effects. All the obvious opportunities for blood-curdling martial arts battle cries and the crisp swish of blades have been missed, which is sad.


Dynasty Wars' core problem is that there isn't an awful lot to do! With only two modes of attack you either have to use spear power to spike enemies or call in magical tactics. And with only tiny guys on horseback to look at - some of whom apparently ride side saddle! - there's not much to keep you rivetted to the screen.

The similarity of foes too, makes the game easy, with the higher levels reachable in the first few attempts. The war, it seems, will definitely be over before Christmas, maybe even August!

In spite these factors and the deliberately slow pace Dynasty Wars has an undefinable charm. There's a sense of tension, while the sheer number of opponents makes life awkward. The levels, while similar in concept, are very different in design, ranging from burning bridges to snow-swept wastes. It's worth getting to each new level just to have a look at the scenery.


A reasonable chop-em-up which has the distinction of horse-riding heroes, enough original elements and is bound together with a certain slick style. Once it's finished - which shouldn't take long - it's unlikely you'll ever play Dynasty Wars again. But while you're still trying to top the big nasty who ruined the Han Clan, Dynasty Wars should prove an enjoyable diversion.

Dynasty Wars logo

China hat nicht nur Eßstäbehen und Reistöpfe, Schlitzaugen und lange Mauern zu bieten, auch mit kriegerischen Auseinandersetzungen war das Reich der Mitte schon immer gut versorgt. Capcoms neues Spiel handelt von der blutigen Fehde zweier alter chinesischer Geschlechter, die sich erbarmungslos bis auf's Messer bekämpfen.

Die Mitglieder des Kai Clans sind die Bad Guys, die Jungs und Mädels von der Han Familie sind die Guten. Klar, daß unsereins auf der richtigen Seite steht. Auf einem Pferd galoppiert man durch chinesische Landschaften und prügelt mit Schwert oder Lanze auf alle daherkommenden Angreifer ein. Davon gibt es mehr als genug, oft tummeln sich bis zu acht Sprites auf dem Screen und bekämpfen den tapferen Reitersmann. Das geht ohne Flackern und (fast) ohne Ruckeln vonstatten.

Leider hoppelt gerade der Reiter etwas rucklig dahin, und vor allem ist das Scrolling unendlich langsam. Dafür hat man viel Wert auf farbenprächtige und detailreiche Grafiken gelegt; die Sprites sind so fein gezeichnet, daß man sogar die Bärte im Gesicht erkennen kann. Die Bäume, Häuser und Landschaften im Hintergrund sind schon fast richtige Gemälde - einfach toll! Auch an der stimmungsvollen Sounduntermalung gibt es nichts auszusetzen.

Aber zurück zur Handlung: Wir reiten also über den horizontal scrollenden Bildschirm und schleudern unsere Waffen den Schurken entgegen. Je länger der Joystickknopf gedrückt wird, um so verheerender die Wirkung. Bei voller Energie(-anzeige) lassen sich so manchmal drei, vier Gegner auf einmal wegputzen.

Zunächst ist es auch noch ganz einfach, die heranstürmenden Bogenschützen mit ihren Brandpfeilen niederzumachen. Selbst mit den Endgegnern hat man anfangs leichtes Spiel, doch ab dem dritten Level wird es dann reichlich schwierig.

Dynasty Wars macht eine Menge Spaß, ein paar Schönheitsfehler hat das Programm aber doch. So ist die Kollisionsabfrage ziemlich ungenau, treffen somit Glückssache.

Wenn man nur lange genug in die Richtung des Gegners sticht, erwischt man ihn halt irgendwann... Die Sprites bewegen sich alle sehr langsam, da wäre noch einiges zu verbessern gewesen. Schade, denn die Präsentation des Games ist ansonsten wirklich gewaltig.

Im Vorspann gibt es tolle Bilder von der Chinesischen Mauer zu sehen, und die Spielcharaktere werden mit Comic-Grafiken vorgestellt. Die ausgewählten Helden haben dann auch im Spiel selbst ein unterschiedliches Aussehen - man merkt dem Game durchaus an, daß die Programmierer es so attraktiv wie möglich gestalten wollten.

Nur hätten sie noch etwas mehr Augenmerk auf die Spielbarkeit legen sollen, dann wäre es ein ganz famoses Actionspiel geworden. (C. Borgmeier)

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PRICE: £24.99

Just when it looked like US Gold couldn't put a foot wrong, they do. Dynasty Wars from Tiertex only just stops short of becoming a total disaster.

Dynasty Wars seems a typical Japanese story, although it's set in China. In 184AD, The Han Dynasty has fallen, overthrown by rebellious warlords. Out of the ashes come four warriors determined to restore order and defeat the rebels. Selecting one of these warriors at the start of the game, you charge through villages, campsites and ships running amok, hacking and slashing anybody in sight.

Your player comes armed with a halberd (a combined spear and battleaxe). Holding down the fire button for a short time determines how hard you hit; keep it held down activates the special tactics, a sort of smart bomb. When in the forest boulders and trees can be sent crashing down on your enemy, and when on the ship you can burn rebels with fire. Unfortunately, this useful gizmo can only be used once during each of the 8 levels.

The bad guys rush on, usually in waves of between five and ten men. Most of the time the waves consist of foot soldiers, who aren't too difficult to dispose of, though later in the game the cavalry turn up on horse back.

Anybody who played DW in the arcades will be disappointed with this conversion. I was expecting something better. The original coin-op looked a fair bet for a good conversion; the graphics were simple and the scrolling not too fast. However, the Amiga version features small, rough-looking sprites that flit unconvincingly around the screen.

It looks like an ST Port, or at least a waste of the Amiga's potential. The only attractive feature is the sound. The in-game tune is a reasonable ditty, but it's hardly the pick-me-up the rest of the game needs.

Perhaps it should be renamed Dysentry Wars, because it's not very nice to have and you should make a healthy effort to avoid it.

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US Gold, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Banish images of Krystal and Alexis scratching each others eyes out: this tale is set before hairspray was invented, back in 184 AD when China's advanced civilization was proving its superiority with rigorously ordered slaughter. While our ancestors were painting themselves blue and complaining about all the Roman roadworks, the Chinese had mastered the art of cutting each other up into the tiniest bits with the greatest of skill.

Great warrior families such as the Han and the Kai fought each other for power. The Han probably won, as they're the goodies in this spectacular slash-'em-up.

But as the game begins the Hans are down to the overly familiar odds of one man against millions. Who this man is depends on you, there are four warriors eager to go into battle, but for some strange reason only one of them can go (or two on the Amiga). Their names are Shang Fei, Lui Bei, Kuan Yu and Shao Yun (and are going to play havoc with Phil's spell check).

Each has their own characteristics (fire power and life force), plus a weapon (either a sword or lance). To avoid looking totally daft with the latter you're also issued with a horse.

The actual battlefield is viewed side-on, horizontally scrolling once you beat all the baddies in the immediate vicinity. Holding down fire increases the strength of your blow against footsoldiers, archers and other horsemen.

As you fight on you'll encounter various obstacles, such as fences and vases which occasionally yield energy capsules when chopped apart. On the Amiga you can also find new weapons (a bigger sword, for example). You need all the help you can get because at the end of each level there's a general who must be defeated.

Phil King Even watching Dynasty would be more playable than playing this! The C64 game has dull graphics and repetitive gameplay, but it's a thoroughbred compared to the Amiga donkey. The latter may have more attractive, detailed backdrops but unfortunately utilises 'stroboscopic' animation - i.e. extremely jerky and slow. My only amusement from the Amiga version cam when my horse was moving in the opposite direction to which it was galloping. US Gold really ought to know better than to trot out such a lame game.
Scorelord Ghouls 'N' Ghosts made the Capcom/US Gold label something to look out for, but subsequent releases have sadly let it down. Both this and Black Tiger are very fun-of-the-mill coin-ops completely lacking in the imagination and originality which distinguished G 'N' G. A routine rightward scrolling slash-'em-up is distinguished only by the heroes being on horses, and some attractive graphics. In the event the horses serve to restrict movement, while the graphics cripple the Amiga game with incredibly slow control responses making it very frustrating and unenjoyable. By contrast, the C64 game is as fast as you could want. The graphics aren't great, but they're still quite good. Unfortunately the basic coin-op is repetitive, so that after getting some way into the game you lose interest. Let's hope UN Squadron gets Capcom back on course!