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Originating in the arcades, Dynasty Wars is a beat-em-up set during the Three Kingdoms Era of the Chinese history, and is, more specifically, based on the Tenchi o Kurau manga adaptation of the story. The player adopts the identity of an ancient Chinese warrior, and riding on horseback has to eliminate all his opponents, mostly infantry and archers.

Four historical characters from the time period can be controlled: Zhang Fei (fights with a halberd), Liu Bei (broadsword), Guan Yu (a Chinese pole weapon known as guan dao), and Zhao Yun (pike); some of the character names are misspelled in translated versions. The characters are distinguished by their health and strength parameters.

The game uses a lateral scroll and the player can move in all four directions. A novelty is the attack system: when pressing fire the energy of the attack will load up as the warrior moves his weapon up and backwards, in order to gain momentum. The more the player can keep fire pressed, the more powerful the attack will be. In addition, so-called "tactics" can be used at specific moments; these are powerful area attacks that deplete the protagonist's HP in process and range from summoning an ambush partner and causing rocks slide down slopes.

Stages typically culminate in boss battles. Along the way, various power-ups can be collected. Besides treasure that increases the player's score, and food packs that heal the protagonist, there are also yellow and blue orbs, which represent the game's light RPG elements: yellow orbs count as experience points and increase the character's vitality after a stage is over, and blue orbs increase the power of his weapon.


Dynasty Wars TurboGrafx CD Battle in a city
Dynasty Wars Commodore 64 More archers leaving this area
Dynasty Wars Commodore 64 Special object after destroying them provide power-ups
Dynasty Wars Atari ST One of the characters you can play

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Alternate Titles

  • "天地を喰らう" -- Japanese spelling
  • "Tenchi o Kurau" -- Japanese title

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Critic Reviews

Your Amiga Amiga Aug, 1990 80 out of 100 80
The Games Machine (UK) Amiga Jul, 1990 76 out of 100 76
The One Atari ST Jun, 1990 70 out of 100 70
Amiga Format Amiga Aug, 1990 69 out of 100 69
Computer and Video Games (CVG) Commodore 64 Jul, 1990 65 out of 100 65
Zzap! Commodore 64 Jul, 1990 62 out of 100 62
Power Play Atari ST Jul, 1990 52 out of 100 52
Power Play Amiga Sep, 1990 52 out of 100 48
The Games Machine (UK) Commodore 64 Jul, 1990 45 out of 100 45
Power Play Commodore 64 Sep, 1990 35 out of 100 35


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Contributed to by Pseudo_Intellectual (47939), Unicorn Lynx (174046) and Neville (2577)