Critics constantly say that a breath of fresh air needs to be blown into the Dynasty Warriors series, which has been stagnant since DW3, and has since spawned two sequels (not counting the Xbox versions), a PSP version, three (soon to be four) expansion packs, an in-development DS version and this GBA version since its release at the tail-end of 2001 (that means a ?new? DW comes out every five or so months, not including Samurai Warriors or Dynasty Tactics). For the most part, the series is good, with sleek graphics, decent sound and mindlessly entertaining hack-and-slash. However, this GBA knockoff fails in everything the series has going for it.
Everyone knows the story if they?ve played a DW game. Yellow Turbans pop up. They get killed. Then a war against Dong Zhuo starts. He gets killed. Then the Wu, Shu and Wei kingdoms battle, and all they all die, except one of them (which is historically inaccurate, since all three submit to the Jin Empire).
DWA mixes horrible strategy elements with weak action, a staple in the series. The meat of the game is played from an overhead map where the player moves characters similar to a board game. After a run-in with an enemy, the action fighting sequence begins.
The controls are simply negligent. After selecting one of only about a dozen soldiers (a massive drop from the roughly fifty soldiers found in the consoles), the player?s unit is dropped onto one corner of the map, and must move from spot to spot in order to reach the enemy officer on the other end, a staple setup for the series. Outside of battle, there is a map system, with little dots scattered across it, representing a small area in an overall battlefield. When two opposing forces move onto the same spot, a battle commences, where the player-controlled officer fights roughly fifteen to twenty-five soldiers. This setup destroys anything and everything the DW series stands for. The series has always been acknowledged for its army versus army combat, with hundreds of units on the field at a time. This current method simply doesn?t capture the feel that distinguishes Dynasty Warriors from the majority of action games, and just doesn?t allow the game to excel. The B button is a regular attack, which can be hit consecutively to make a simple three-hit combo. The A button does a dash attack, which sweeps the enemy directly ahead of the unit out of the way. Of course, the A button can be used during a B combo for various new techniques. While this sounds strikingly similar to the standard DW battle system, it is immensely more redundant, and makes for a simply unentertaining experience. In addition, many of features that have slightly improved the series from installment to installment are gone. There are no bodyguards that grow with the character. There is no create-a-character. There aren?t enough unlockable characters. The list goes on, making the game simply not deep enough.
The game doesn?t look bad, which is about the only thing it has that is above sub-standard. It has sprites that actually look like the characters shown in the console versions, though their enormous heads and lanky bodies don?t really have a proper look for a game whose story is rooted in treachery, bloodshed and meaningless warfare. The music, as in every Dynasty Warriors, is best summarized as a slew of misplaced heavy metal. There are also voice-acted grunts and groans, taken straight from the console versions, which don?t sound particularly good coming out of a small speaker. Needless to say, the sound just isn?t up to snuff.
Dynasty Warriors Advance just isn?t a good game. The combat style synonymous with the series simply didn?t make the transition from console to handheld well in any way. Koei also slipped up trying to use the same musical style and sound from the console versions. All in all, this is just a dim shadow of the series. Anyone who really yearns for the Dynasty Warriors experience should just go for Dynasty Warriors 4.