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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 40: In Defense of Too Human and Dynasty Warriors

Tim Spaeth's picture

It's all led up to this. Tim defends Too Human. Chi defends Dynasty Warriors. Who will live? Who will die? Find out in this, the second half of our "Out Of Our Comfort Zone" extravaganza. With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim "No Singing This Time" Spaeth.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360  
Developer(s): Koei   Omega Force   Silicon Knights  
Key Creator(s): Denis Dyack  
Series: Dynasty Warriors   Too Human  
Genre(s): Weird  
Articles: Best Work   Podcasts  

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In Defense of Dynasty Warriors continued...

I'm really happy that I didn't get overly defensive about game mechanics of DW on the show because it allowed me to stay focused on the macro cultural issues. But now that the show is live, I do want to go back and address some of those complaints my fellow podcasters made on the show.

@Tim Spaeth, I'm disappointed that the show recording ran so long that we never had a chance to compare and contrast Too Human with Dynasty Warriors as we had originally intended. This would have been interesting because all the reasons that you cited why you disliked DW, could also be attributed to Too Human. It was strangely eerie how we were describing both games in near identical terms. Both games could be considered convoluted and obtuse as far as its gameplay and interface is concerned (Too Human has one of the worst HUDs ever), but yet Too Human gets a pass in your book and DW doesn't. I would have loved to hear you rationalize that. ;-) And all you needed to do is experiment with the controls or look at the control option screen to discover that you block with L1.

@Mike and Brad, when you say you struggled to find the boss general on the map you needed to kill at the end the stage, at any point, you can press start to pause the game and get an overview map, which displays the location of the objective target and your position in relation to that. While the game never explains this, pausing the game is something that almost every gamer is accustomed to doing when you need to get more info and the pre-battle staging screens does introduce the use of this map to see what the main goal of each stage is.

I'm not saying DW is the most intuitive game ever, but it's fairly solid in the gameplay dept and I did want to counter Brad's assertion that the game is severely broken. I think part of what makes the DW experience so great is that you are overwhelmed at first (which is something one should feel being thrown onto the battlefield of thousands), but if you stick with the game beyond one or two stages, you do figure out how to manage your mission objectives and the incoming updates much more efficiently. The problem is whether or not you are willing to stick with the game long enough to get comfortable with those mechanics.

This is it!

Too Human versus Dynasty Warrior. What I've been waiting for since the invention of sliced bread. Batman versus Superman is for the weak. The heat is on. The stakes are high. The odds are low. The ins are out. Alliances will be forged and promises could be broken. Downloading now!

The Right thumbstick should be for the camera...

Just wrapping up the Too Human portion of the podcast...
(have not gotten to the DW section yet)

This is so much fun.
You go, Tim!

I love it when people talk about games they have a real opinion about. Rather than merely commenting on the latest releases, simply for the sake of it.

But I had to just stop, before the DW discussion, to make a comment.
Tim... you want to see Too Human's control scheme to become the standard?
I could not disagree more. The ability to "look around" and examine my environment, thats one of the top reasons that I play games. That was one of my chief complaints about Too Human.

I would make my standard "but thats just me" comment, except Mike also said he thought the game would be better with camera control on the right stick. Even if your not a "I want to look around" junkie like me, game cameras are rarely programed well enough that the everything is in perfect view, and usually need some form of manual babysitting.

/end rant ,
going back to listen to the rest of the podcast.

Great podcast

Excellent discussion guys and I agree with most of what you said about Too Human (which I for one loved). However, I do feel the need to add a little correction. Too Human was not in development for 9 years and I hate to hear it get ragged on for the long development cycle.

It's true that Silicon Knights (or more accurately Denis Dyack) had been working on it conceptually for almost a decade, but the game itself was not being developed.

It also started and then stopped development, I believe, twice (they claim thanks to technological limitations of the times) and was placed on their back burners for years.

To say that it had a 9 year development cycle really does misrepresent the game itself and tends to give people expectations that they otherwise would not have.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not making excuses for the games many flaws, I just hate hear the "9 year development" comments when it's simply not true.

Too Human

I nearly wrecked my company vehicle, when Chi said the game would be remembered a 100 years from now, and Tim had his moment of excitement; That segment was beyond comedy gold. Once again, GC has put together an outstanding podcast. GC has one of the best podcasts on the net.

Tim Spaeth brofist

Y'know, I don't really care about Too Human. My feelings on that game are pretty much identical to Brad's.


Hearing Tim explain his enthusiasm for game was like listening to myself talk about Drakengard. In both cases, you can't really argue against the common criticisms, but they both are doing something so utterly unique that they can't help but charm.

Tim, for bravely holding the rare "Ok, so maybe it sucks, but it's also Awesome!" opinion on a videogame, I salute you.

Too Human - Dynasty Warrior6

One of my friends had talked me into trying Too Human. he said it was a great game for customizing your character, something I liked to do. I gave it a try, and found much like most of you that i had a strong love/hate relationship with the game. I hated the stupid Valkyrie animation, it would have been cool the first time you died, but every freakin' time? Come-on! lol. The game had an interesting story, but i think it would have been more appreciated if the levels were smaller. its been about two years for me, but there were what four or five levels? Each one took like 2-3 hours? Give me ten half hour to forty five minute levels, and I would have been happy.

now On to Dynasty Warriors, And I'm sorry, but I know this is going to be long before I even start. I'm a huge fan of the series, and oddly, I started with 2, which I kinda liked, but thought my interest would end there... but listening to the podcast, you seem to make this one huge mistake that so many people I have talked to have made... everyone has said its just repetitive, and to a degree it is, but that is because the game is treated as a hack and slash. its not. At least not entirely. the game is also in part a strategy game. Admittedly any person who just wants to go in and show off a huge KO count can do that, that is not the point. The point is to accomplish strategic objectives to boost your moral and crush there's and conquer territories. Admittedly, it is possible on easy mode to go in and charge the level commander and win the level in three minutes, but that defeats the purpose just as much as killing every soldier on the field. And on top of the being a strategy and hack and slash, it can also be a good game for farming to get better equipment. One thing I loved about borderlands... but that's another story.

The strategic element was at its best in dw3 when cut scenes were many in the levels based upon what you did, but in future games, they each still had their points. Playing each character's musou/ story mode, gives you a little history into the character's involvement in the era. Playing through all their story modes will give the player some pretty general knowledge of the time period. but every level of each game is usually about trying to interrupt the oppising strategists plans, which means you have to pay attention to much of the messages and dialogue being played, or else the enemy could start winning their objectives. When the enemy moral gets higher, they get stronger, and they start killing your soldiers faster, and especially if you are using a fresh character, you are more likely to lose.

If you charge the enemy commander at the beginning of the level, you may fight him for a couple minutes before killing him, and he might do some serious damage to you. if you roll over your side's objectives, and kill most of his officers, your moral will be high, your officers will be harder to kill, and will survive, and when you face the enemy commander, he or she might go down in ten to fifteen hits. And likewise if you fail in your objectives, you army is being overwhelmed, and you decide to rush the commander before you get killed, you may still lose the level, because he is taking too long to die and the high moral enemy officers kill your commander before you can kill theirs.

Now Dw6, I am hoping will be to the ps3/360 what dw2 was to the ps2, an early version of what will hopefully be a well polished system. My issues with dw6 are mainly in the attack system. They call it Renbu, which basically means you have square attacks and triangle attacks. They car constant attacks that keep linking together. but you can't mix them, either attack with square or attack with triangle (You can probably tell I have the PS3 version). AS you progressed in the game, you got a higher renbu, which meant your attack combos got longer, but it was still limited to square or triangle, not any kind of mix. Dw2-5 for the ps2, had a charge system where square was your basic attack combo, and you pressed triangle to interrupt your combo for a 'charge attack.'

So unfortunately I have to disagree with Chi for his fan sub comparison, the game is actually far more refined than the average hack and slash. The controls are relatively simple, So I have to disagree with the points off for lack of tutorial. Two attacks buttons, one button for charging your musou/desperation attack(or activating if its full), and a jump for your main buttons, the shoulder buttons, control 'block,' 'map,' 'evade' and 'special command.' Play the game for ten minutes, you'll figure out what most of them are for.

The next paragraphs get away from the game mechanicsa bit, and jut get into the mentality of the game.

Oh and one thing I had to do an 'LOL' at, was your mention of fighting really hard generals. I can pretty much tell you that you tried to take on 'LuBu' who is an officer on the enemy side in the the battle of Hu Lao gate. Awkwardly most playable characters in the game have this battle as their first or second stage, and interestingly, Lubu, is the officer with the highest stats in the game.. Essentially he is the hardest 'boss' in the game and you fight him in your first or second level. That is also why your commander tell you not to take him on and go around him.

there was also a comment made about how Cao Cao was not the antagonist. Well he can be. You have nine characters to start with. Three from each of the three kingdoms. And though int he early parts of the era, they were all allies against those such as Zhang Jiao, or Dong Zhuo, they all develop rivalries. Cao Cao dislikes the decadent and fading power of the Han dynasty and tries to seize power and lead China to what he considers a better china (historically his army was sort of the victor of the three kingdoms, as Wei seemed the dominant of the three, and were the beginnings of the Jin Dynasty) and he viewed LuiBei as a bit of an upstart trying to restore a pathetic emperor who should have had no power. Playing as Shu / Liu Bei, you see him trying to restore the Han for the benefit of the people, and viewing Cao Cao as a traitor and corrupt/evil person. both view Wu as a wild card of sorts. Playing as Wu, you see Wei as a group of warmongers never happy with the territory they have, but you see Shu as a group of little schemers always playing games in the background, of which they paid the price on more than one occasion. in the game, the general uniform color scheme is green for Shu, blue for wei, and red for wu.

Anyway, Although you probably already traded them in, or sold them, or gave thee games to your nephew that you never really liked... on the off chance that you didn't, I hope you'll honestly consider playing the game one more time from this perspective, the games truly are a work of elegance.

Thanks for listening please don't 'TLDR'


Endarkens wrote:

So unfortunately I have to disagree with Chi for his fan sub comparison, the game is actually far more refined than the average hack and slash. The controls are relatively simple, So I have to disagree with the points off for lack of tutorial. Two attacks buttons, one button for charging your musou/desperation attack(or activating if its full), and a jump for your main buttons, the shoulder buttons, control 'block,' 'map,' 'evade' and 'special command.' Play the game for ten minutes, you'll figure out what most of them are for.

While I agree that the game mechanics are refined, I still stand by my fan sub comparison. I have to concede this point to Tim. Why couldn't they just label the story mode "Story Mode" rather than "Mousou Mode". At the end of the day, Koei is doing the bare minimum in the storytelling dept and is relying too heavily on the memory of the characters rather than conveying what made these characters so memorable. To someone who isn't familiar with the Three Kingdoms lore, I can imagine the game might as well be in Chinese.

That's not to say doesn't capture some parts of the Three Kingdoms well. By far and away, the games convey the trademark mantra Ikkutousen/Strength of a thousand feeling better than any other game and that was enough for DW parts 2 to 3. Koei needed to expand its vocabulary a bit and not rely so heavily on that one theme.

Endarkens wrote:

Thanks for listening please don't 'TLDR'

Reading this was music to my ears. Thank you for sharing your passion for the series.

My take on episode 40

First of all, I would like to thank you guys for this show, it's the first I've listened to but certainly won't be the last. It takes courage to openly defend something that you love, and also to have an open mind and willingness to explore the loves of others.

I can trace the roots of the appeal of DW and TH back to my heritage of playing button mashing side scrolling beat-em-ups. I grew up in a seaside resort in the UK, so I got to spend a lot of time in arcades playing games like Final Fight, King of Dragons, The Punisher, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, as well as playing at home on Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and many more.

As I grew up it slowly seemed like this particular genre faded from fashion. Later on in my life, my girlfriend (who is now my wife) introduced me to Dynasty Warriors 3 on the PS2. It was a revelation to me, taking control of these fantastic Chinese warriors, exaggerated in their strength and abilities and smashing through thousands of enemy troops to victory. Sure you could use strategies and execute combination attacks, but at its very core this was a button mashing progressive brawler, no longer constrained to the 2-dimensional plane!

Many, many hours were spent playing co-operatively with my wife, unlocking new characters, forging stronger weapons, levelling up everyone in the roster and all the while enjoying this ancient tale of friendship, ambition and courage. Since then we've played pretty much EVERY iteration, expansion and spin-off together, with the exception of Bladestorm which was single player only.

I played a lot of Too Human (though this time not with my wife due to no couch co-op) and my reasons for liking it again stemmed from the game mechanics that I seem to enjoy - immense battles, loot whoring, levelling up, playing co-operatively and extensive character customisation. It's a punishing game though, with a lot of trial and error required to master it.

I have a lingering feeling that the game was only half done. Something about the difficulty level, the many weaknesses of each character class, and the epic scale of it all just felt like it should have been a 4 player game. The story didn't live up to the Dyack hype, but I did enjoy the bastardisation of the Norse legends, and would love for a sequel (hey if Two Worlds can get one it's not false hope!).

I've kinda rambled but hopefully you get my reasons for enjoying these games so much, I think it really boils down to a personal preference as to whether the core game mechanic appeals to you. All the critics in the world can point out the flaws but if you enjoy it, you're going to overlook these negative aspects in favour of a gaming experience that pushes your buttons, so to speak.

Anyway, thanks again for the show.

Endarkens, Thanks for the


Thanks for the lengthy comment. I'm glad to see this episode inspired such passionate and intelligent responses. I think gaming media often are obsessed with the "new" thing to the exclusion of older games, so I'm glad to see that we can talk about games that aren't the hot new releases and connect with our audience in a meaningful way.


Glad you enjoyed the show. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of our ramblings going forward.

I agree with the unfinished game idea regarding Too Human. I get the feeling that some parts of the game weren't really where they were supposed to be when it was released. This is why TH is so distressing for me. On one hand, it's a game I should adore -- given my love of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups and loot whoring. On the other, it's so goddamn flawed, aggravating, and essentially broken at some points that it literally made me chuck my controller. Few games have ever inspired such conflicting emotions in me...

great episode

great episode, thanks guys

I think i will read Three Kingdoms (and the other 3 to 4 great novels of China) some day, but DW will hardly be something for me.
Too Human sounds more interesting, Viking Cyborgs, yeah!
But my (Austrian) XBox refuses to show me the Demo and on xbox.com/us it says i must be Gold member to download. No Too Human for me then.

Also thanks to the lengthy GOTY articles on Deadly Premonition. I will have to read them now with more attention cause it will be released this month here and i might give it a try.

I'd love to play a cyberpunk

I'd love to play a cyberpunk viking but since I don't have a XBox this dream will remain unfulfilled ;-)

@crackajack: you can get it for less than 10 bucks on amazon and I'm sure some copy of too human can be found in some bargain bin for a fiver or less...

Getting it isn't the

Getting it isn't the problem. But do i want to get it?
It was only a complain on the idiotic demo policy.
Will have to ask a friend to download the demo for me.

Just thinking out loud-

Just thinking out loud- Isn't Peter Molyneux syndrome really Trip Hawkins syndrome? lest we forget-


- this was a game system that didn't just talk about literally decapitating it's fans with it's graphics, it actually did decapitate it's fans with it's graphics.

Too Human's story

I don't agree that cyborg vikings are stupid. They may very well be in this particular game's handling of them (I don't know, I haven't played it... yet), but merging mythology with futuristic sci-fi sh*t is not a fundamentally flawed idea. Just look at the Hindu-god-astronauts in Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light.

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