Monday, July 1, 2013
Let's Talk About the New Characters in Dynasty Warriors 8 - Shu Edition
The other night, I very nearly got side-tracked into a long-winded rant about the new characters added in the latest installment of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, but I stopped myself, rationalizing that it would simply be better to just give myself a post to let it out. Because it's going to take quite a while to air out enough history nerdiness and frustration that I am allowed to have, even for a game that I am pointedly excited for. And then I started thinking about it and got sort of intimidated on just going full-bore on this stuff because, again, it's just a lot of stuff. Combine that with a mood shift last night and, well, I just didn't have it in me to actually do the write-up. So today I thought, "Oh, I know, I'll just split it all up since I will yell a lot about Shu and Wu at least" and, well, that's honestly kind of a good idea.
KOEI's choices with the last two games seem focused on the long-game; that is, telling the end-tale of the war even though it's not quite as.....good, as the middle of it. It's an odd choice, admittedly, but I'm just telling myself it's simply leading up to The War of the Eight Princes, where things kind of get interesting again for a little bit. I'm not...quite sure what they'd do with the scenario (It's a little weird to include it in a Dynasty Warriors game, but not big enough for its own series) and if they were going to do anything with the surrounding time periods, they'd be much more inclined to take on the Warring States period ending with the establishment of the Qin Dynasty or perhaps even going beyond the fall of the Qin Dynasty and into the establishing of the Han Dynasty seeing as the Han plays a central plot point to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms towards the start of the whole thing. Regardless, the end-game is the focus for now and Shu's three new characters emphasize that rather effectively.
It should, of course be noted once more that Dynasty Warriors has always, always erred more on the side of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novelization than history itself, so it's honestly no surprise that two of the new characters are children of Guan Yu with that as their sole claim to fame in the historical side of things. Guan Yu was kind of a big deal in history, but not nearly as much as he was made in the novelization and, indeed, culture afterwards even going so far as being deified by Taoism and Buddhism. Arguably enough, even the third new character is merely an extension of Guan Yu's family in a sense. This is why we don't play Dynasty Warriors for historical accuracy.
Guan Xing, arguably Guan Yu's least important son (his only competition is a son that probably didn't exist in history) was more of an official than an officer or general in the historical texts, only seeing a couple years of prominence before his death to little or no fanfare. So, of course in the Novelization, he was a capable warrior who challenged another officer for the honor of leading the vanguard during an attack on Wu territory for vengeance shortly after the fall of Fan Castle, which resulted in Guan Yu's capture and death. Eventually he succeeded in killing the man who lead the unit that captured Guan Yu (Kind of - for one, two officers were given credit and for two, the novel states that Guan Yu's ghost stopped the man in his tracks to allow Xing to score the killing blow which is kind of lame), earning back his father's weapon which he presumably used for the rest of his military career. However, in Dynasty Warriors 8, he'll wield something called "Wingblades" which I hope are not Lu Xun's twin swords because that would just be lazy. Even as somebody who got the novel treatment, he didn't see -that- much importance levied onto him.
Guan Yinping was apparently the daughter of Guan Yu and by that virtue it simply meant she didn't do a thing historically. (If the lack of Wikipedia link wasn't enough of a hint) The female characters in Dynasty Warriors by and large rarely had any sort of presence in the era, if they existed at all, and more often than not were just people to be married off to solidify an alliance for however long it lasted. Sun Shangxiang is one of the more notable instances of this, being married off to Liu Bei by Sun Quan (her brother) in an effort to stabilize tensions between their organizations (neither had claimed King or Emperor of their domain by this point, so Kingdom is the wrong word to use). Similarly, Sun Quan suggested a marriage between one of his sons and Guan Yinping, though Guan Yu rejected it. That is, uh...pretty much all there is to tell about her really. She's going to be wielding a Dual-Headed Mace (which you can kind of see in the screenshot above, but can see it better here) which is neat if not hilariously inappropriate.
Finally, Zhang Bao kind of continues in Guan Xing's footsteps in being absolutely useless in history, but made huge in the novelization because of who he was. Zhang Bao was the oldest son of Zhang Fei who was one of Shu's fiercest warriors and oath brother to Guan Yu and Liu Bei himself. In history, he apparently died young, but of course in the novelization he didn't and went on to be that officer that feuded with Guan Xing in an attempt to lead the vanguard on a campaign against Wu. (See? Mentioned it earlier and everything.) The reason I state that his inclusion is likely due in part to Guan Xing is because their story will likely revolve around being forced to become oath brothers (like Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu were) which made them sort of a team in the novelization from that point on. I'm curious as to whether or not they'll keep the novelization's take on his death (Falling into a valley, basically) or if they'll do something else with it. His weapon is called a Flail Sword despite obviously looking more like an oversized Katar at best.
I am going to take this moment to go on a little rant about Xu Shu who is completely and totally in the wrong faction. Since I didn't get to see him in Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires (Fucking KOEI) when he was added, I didn't pay a lot of attention. However, turns out he's listed in Shu when...he just wasn't, really. Much like Xiahou Ba being in Jin (Xiahou Ba fled Wei before it even became Jin), but I attributed Xiahou Ba's presence as a need for officers in Jin rather than Shu. Xu Shu being in Shu makes no sense since he basically only served in Wei. The story basically goes that Xu Shu met up with Liu Bei as Bei led thousands from their homes, fleeing Cao Cao's territory that eventually culminated in the Battle of Changban where Cao Cao's forces caught up with Liu Bei's own. At most, Xu Shu advised Liu Bei in this battle before hearing that his mother was in Cao Cao's possession, leading him to state "Hey, I wish I coulda joined you, but I need my mom", essentially, and join up with Cao Cao where he stayed until he died decades later. Instead of trying to take his mother to Liu Bei's territories to join up with him or something. His return in Dynasty Warriors 8 still in Shu's over-inflated roster only adds to the silliness and bore mentioning.
This....is pretty much exactly why I decided to do separate posts for the new characters. I am hopefully going to do other posts for Wei, Wu and Jin (no new Other characters this go around, unfortunately), but those will be another night. Shu was just the one that nearly set me off on a rant (which, you see how long this went) so I figured it was better to do that one first. Expect something similarly verbose when it comes to Wu not only because of who -was- added, but who -wasn't- added as well, for better or worse. That's....something I'll explain when I get to it. In the meantime, time to just be all excited that I'm going to get to buy and play a new Dynasty Warriors game! It's a surprising amount of giddiness that I feel at the prospect.
I am just such a nerd