#1 Edited by mao16 (107 posts) -

*rant*

Possible Spoilers if you don't know basic three kingdoms stuff

After some time away from romance of the three kingdoms (I needed it after that live action drama that was wayyyy too long) I forgot just how much only certain parts of Shu can even remotely be seen as decent folk while everyone else is just looking to gather more power for themselves or is a mindless honor bound servant. While highly historically inaccurate it's how pretty much every piece of media and to a lesser extent the original novels portrayed things.

This portail of Shu (mostly Liu Bei, some top advisors and a few family members) has really been taken to the extreme lately. Especially by the recent Chinese Drama, Chinese movies and Dynasty warriors. I get what that they are trying the emphasize how even good people have flaws and those can lead to their demise (classic chinese tragedies) but man. I can't sympathize with pretty much any major character but a few from Shu. Sure it's fun playing the ambitious conqueror out only for his own interests but that's pretty much everyone, with only the successful ones who are able to maintain a decent image being "well regarded". You'd think with all the liberties media and games take from the novel which itself was a work of fiction, that they would make a few likable major characters that weren't anti-heroes.

Playing through any campaign other than the Shu ones, you're the bad guy. Always. Even if you don't admit it to yourself and try to deny it. All your actions basically amount to getting more power for myself at the expense of others (usually being the common folk).

Why is Liu Bei the only one that talks the nice talk and actually follows through with actions? If you're going to make everyone villains then make him one too. Liu Bei was no saint (especially towards the end of his life which was really revealing of his true nature/ where his priorities really were) but compared to the rest of these guys he might as well be jesus.

With all the liberties taken for Jin (there are barely any real historical records and it's hardy extensively covered in the original novel) they had the perfect chance to make Sima Zhou a "good guy". Instead the game just makes him a big hypocrite at best. They had the perfect opportunity to make the "good guy in a bad place doing his best". In fact they even do that for a bit, then he just gives up, goes with the flow and decides to become the conqueror everyone wanted him to be.

Finally yes, I'm chinese and know there is a cultural barrier with imperial era chinese morals and what they saw as heroes compared to what most of the modern western world thinks today. But the thing is, the game takes so many liberties already they might as well take some smaller ones and make a few "modern" good guys that didn't all just happen to be under Shu. Sure they would still all lose in the end but it would make the game's story much more viable for western audiences and people who aren't infatuated with anti-heroes.

And finally all the female characters that could be considered good don't count. This was from a sexist era dominated by men and women had little real power. Despite what the game does to make things look more acceptable/ hide it, it's still there... just with them in skimpy clothes and fighting. And no, minor characters who only make a few appearances in the game don't count. I want actually major characters important to the plot and there for a large chunk of it.

*ends rant*

Yeah too much "modern" romance of the three kingdoms in the last couple of years has made me take the story in dynasty warriors games way too seriously instead of the campy B movie stuff it really is.

And yeah, I don't dare post this anywhere with people who actually care. They come in a few categories, the ones who know only the games/ media, the ones that read the novel and the chinese ones who grew up on it. All three will fiercely argue how wrong I am about everything and how only the way they see it is the right way. Even though this is clearly an opinion piece (I would actually call it venting/ ranting). Chinese forums with "dedicated" three kingdom "purist" fans *shudders*. If you think you've seen "troll" forums, you haven't seen anything yet.

#2 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4601 posts) -

Well as someone who has no knowledge about Three Kingdoms other than that it's a historical Chinese thing, how big a deal it is in China these days? Your rant made it seem like there's a consistent output of stuff related to it, so I'm just curious.

As to the 'only anti-heroes' criticism you made, that same argument has been made recently in regards to American TV in general. And it is a legitimate complaint - if you have a hard time liking anyone in a story, it's hard to give a shit about any of them. That's why Game of Thrones works, because it has enough people on the good end of the spectrum to balance it out.

#3 Edited by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

I haven't played all of the campaigns in DW8 yet, but did you actually play Dynasty Warriors 7? The Shu faction strive for benevolence and it ends up destroying them. Jiang Wei wastes Shu's resources in his series of failed invasions of Wei and the Wei faction (now the Jin faction in the game) eventually comes sweeping in to teach them all a lesson in humility. Amusingly enough, Liu Shan, who is an imbecile in the source novel and Chinese history, is portrayed as seemingly the most sensible in that if he didn't surrender, things would have been a lot worse for Shu as a whole.

But basically, Shu's benevolence rots and they're the villains in the Jin storyline while Wu is falling apart from the inside.

#4 Posted by themangalist (1731 posts) -

Well as someone who has no knowledge about Three Kingdoms other than that it's a historical Chinese thing, how big a deal it is in China these days? Your rant made it seem like there's a consistent output of stuff related to it, so I'm just curious.

It's like LotR but written 500 years ago. Even more complicated, heroic, and awesome I'd say.

#5 Edited by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

@themangalist said:

@markwahlberg said:

Well as someone who has no knowledge about Three Kingdoms other than that it's a historical Chinese thing, how big a deal it is in China these days? Your rant made it seem like there's a consistent output of stuff related to it, so I'm just curious.

It's like LotR but written 500 years ago. Even more complicated, heroic, and awesome I'd say.

As someone in the other thread said, it's actually not. Not in the least. ROT3K is based mostly on history and has had a far greater cultural influence in Asia since it was first written than Lord of the Rings has ever had in any part of the world.

#6 Edited by mao16 (107 posts) -

@hailinel: True, but I was talking only about a portion of Shu. The era ruled by Liu Bei before he went crazy that his brothers were killed. Everything went downhill from there (that and after Zhuge Liang died of old age). From the top of my head the only characters in Shu during that early era that I would call good guys (honor bound warriors that follow their boss don't count) are Liu Bei (well he was sorta in it for himself but only a little/ the least out of everyone) and to a lesser extent Zhuge Liang though he was much less of an idealist. I like to think of Liu Bei as Shu's conscience and Zhuge Liang as her rational brain. With both gone, everyone else is ruled by emotions, honoring dead heroes and in it for themselves. Sure they might say they also want to uphold said heroes ideals but that ranks below avenging them in importance. Jiang Wei is the perfect example of this in both the games and novel. Basically there is no one else who actually cared about the people first (mostly) in Shu after Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang (again to a much lesser extent) died. Which brings me to my point of there being so few genuinely good people that want to better humanity even in the "good" faction. This is historically and culturally accurate for the time in chinese history but for a modern loose story based on it with so many larger liberties taken I feel this is an issue. I probably should have been more clear but that would have taken this new wall of text :P And yeah the games take it to a much higher extreme than anything else so it's even more noticeable.

@MarkWahlberg: It's still fairly big, especially with the older generations. It's also big enough for several summer action movies loosely based on it to be released in the last couple of years aimed at the younger generation, a hk tv drama based on it with a sci-fi twist last year, anime loosely based on it, several big budget and well regarded movies in the last ten years (see red cliff) and a really long but fairly historically accurate and really good big budget TV drama just 3 years ago. That's just off the top of my head and there's a lot of older pre-2000 stuff too. So yeah it's still fairly popular.

To use the Games of Thrones analogy, it's that set in ancient china with semi superhuman heroes, no good guys (only shades of grey) and much longer. The dynasty warrior games are a loose adaption of that which tries to make everyone seem less despicable and they decided to turn a few characters into good guys (granted they were hardy the first to do so). However the games take so many extreme liberties in other areas that it seems a bit odd.

In it's original form it was a novel written just over 600 years ago based loosely on folk tales and even more loosely of only semi-accurate historical records of the time. It's also been the most read piece of fiction in china and to a lesser extent eastern asia for the last couple hundred years and still arguably is.

#7 Edited by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

@mao16: Well, the way I've always viewed it is that none of the three factions have ever necessarily been the "good" faction. Liu Bei's era of Shu was benevolent and beloved by people, but Liu Bei's strength was his charisma and the desire for benevolence. The figures of Wei have been characterized as cold and power hungry, but they too are just trying to unite the land in the way they feel most effective. Wu has the strength of the Sun family guiding them until Quan's death, when everything descends into blood feuds and bickering. None of the factions are entirely good or evil. Liu Bei's idealism makes for good heroics, particularly in these games of flanderized personalities, but I'd argue that they've rarely been cast as the purely "good" guys.

#8 Edited by mao16 (107 posts) -

@hailinel: That's pretty much how I view the original. Granted I'm a bit more cynical about the character's motivations. It's also what most people think the author of the book thought at the time of it's creation.

Though after spending roughly 72 hours watching that really good tv drama and reading the book again before that to refresh my memory/ get rid of all the made up dynasty warriors stuff i've been playing and subconsciously been getting used too. I can say I'm probably looking into things way too deeply now. Probably am getting stuff from the drama mixed into the games now... and the only way to be sure is to read the book again.... that's not happening.

#9 Edited by audioBusting (1506 posts) -

Dude, you're talking about an video game in which most warlords are bishounen and can kill thousands of dudes in 30 seconds. This kind of depiction is not isolated to Three Kingdoms; they did Samurai Warriors too, which takes a lot of liberties with classic Japanese feudal stories. Not to mention those other games that combines the worlds somehow, and then some more. It doesn't make any of it right but they're kinda too dumb to be taken seriously

#10 Posted by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

@mao16 said:

@hailinel: That's pretty much how I view the original. Granted I'm a bit more cynical about the character's motivations. It's also what most people think the author of the book thought at the time of it's creation.

Though after spending roughly 72 hours watching that really good tv drama and reading the book again before that to refresh my memory/ get rid of all the made up dynasty warriors stuff i've been playing and subconsciously been getting used too. I can say I'm probably looking into things way too deeply.

Nah. It's just that like anyone else trying to adapt Romance of the Three Kingdoms for whatever purpose, Omega Force has to be selective in what stories to tell and how to tell them because of the restrictions of video games as a medium. I was honestly surprised when I was playing through DW7's story and Sun Ce met his end because of phantom hallucinations, which was much, much closer to the source material than Dynasty Warriors had ever depicted before.

#11 Edited by mao16 (107 posts) -

@audiobusting: I know but I still get that feeling of "oh they could have done this" etc. This is what happens when you watch a long supper drawn out chinese drama for 72 hours then go back to the games which now more than ever focus more on their version "that" story. It also doesn't help that the actual gameplay is pretty good now and I sorta like their campy (even by extreme anime standards) version of the story in some sick twisted way that would make fans of classical literature want to puke.

And to put things in perspective, the newer games actually cover a longer time span then the actual novel does or that 72hr tv drama did.

#12 Posted by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

@mao16 said:

@audiobusting: I know but I still get that feeling of "oh they could have done this" etc. This is what happens when you watch a long supper drawn out chinese drama for 72 hours then go back to the games which now more than ever focus more on their version "that" story. It also doesn't help that the actual gameplay is pretty good now and I sorta like their campy (even by extreme anime standards) version of the story in some sick twisted way that would make fans of classical literature want to puke.

And to put things in perspective, the newer games actually cover a longer time span then the actual novel does.

I know the feeling. Sometimes I see an adaptation of something I like and it'll drive me nuts when they go one way and I felt they should have gone another. Fortunately that doesn't take anything away from the source material. Goodness knows that there have been productions that have played more havoc with Romance of the Three Kingdoms that Dynasty Warriors has and likely ever will.

#13 Posted by audioBusting (1506 posts) -

@mao16: I know that feeling. What bothers me more is how clean everyone's faces are in any of the Three Kingdoms video games/movies/TV dramas! How can everyone be so pretty and clean back then? It kinda breaks my suspension of disbelief.

#14 Posted by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

@mao16: I know that feeling. What bothers me more is how clean everyone's faces are in any of the Three Kingdoms video games/movies/TV dramas! How can everyone be so pretty and clean back then? It kinda breaks my suspension of disbelief.

That's just the nature of the character designs. Dynasty Warriors features characters of just about every type so that there's someone for just about anyone to gravitate toward.

#15 Edited by mao16 (107 posts) -

@hailinel: I want to agree with you but... there's a clear and blatant panty shot of a teen cg anime girl in warriors 8's opening.... nothing wrong with that in the context of the game's universe.... but if I showed that to my uncle, he would break the ps3 or lecture me for a few hours about how the world's gone to hell and I would actually sorta sympathize with him, not agree but get where he's coming from.

....I still like most of the recent male and female char designs though, there's always been a version in every few games of a char I would like.

Then again I love anime and us types have a higher tolerance to this kinda stuff than anyone else on the planet, well other than pedophiles etc. Which says a lot. Sure the visuals don't affect me at all... sorta like most of em but the plot does since they keep trying harder with every game.

#16 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

Liu Bei is always made into a hero and Cao Cao always into a villain where they lie somewhere in between (of course both tread all over the crown's authority as does Sun Quan, but that's more or less the norm in times of turmoil with a weak ruler). I liked the ridiculous portrayal of Sima Yi as like a megalomaniacal villain, now that they've made him into some sort of realistic father figure it's decidedly less amusing. Cao Pi might have been cunning but he wasn't an "evil genius;" just a competent scion of his father who is easily the best strategist/leader/commander/everythingexceptwarrior of the era. The Sima brothers are basically the same depiction in the book, competent leaders. Now there's dozens of identical depictions in the Koei games so I don't really get why they would care about differentiating but if they do then why not?

The funniest thing about the focus on Jin is that almost everyone competent had died by that point, it's really Deng Ai vs Jiang Wei is the only compelling storyline and the book itself is much less interesting once Kongming dies. From what I can tell Koei emphasizes Deng Ai as a warrior instead of as a commander when it's much more the latter. Jin just isn't that interesting even if you somehow bring in long dead heroes of the previous generation to spice things up; it's basically what would have happened if Red Cliffs didn't occur; i.e. the dominant northern army wins slowly but surely with no surprises along the way. I also find it hilarious that Liu Shan is depicted as anything but a completely and utterly useless motherfucker; he's actually pretty good in combat in the games but he should be a joke character or like moving around on a throne; tossup whether him or Yuan Shu is a more useless person.

Also worth noting is that Cheng Pu is one of the best Wu warriors and has still taken a back seat to inferiors Han Dang, Ding Feng, and so on. Why does Guo Huai become a character? I mean you can characterize him as ridiculously as you want but he's still almost completely meaningless. Why no Zhang Song or Zhang Ren or Yan Yan or Hao Zhao... the list of better characters than randomly generated female or inferior male selection is endless.

#17 Posted by Slag (4244 posts) -

Admittedly it's been a very long time since I played any Koei game. but I never though Dynasty Warriors was the story drive one. There will be long massive fights and then quick update cutscenes in a fluid sort of way, kind of like a Soap Opera.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, at least in past games I've played there is so little establishment of characters, it's hard to follow what's going on understand the significance of anything that happens also like a Soap Opera.

I've always felt it was Romance of the 3 Kingdoms fan service and had no problem constantly reinterpreting the source material

Which is a-ok, people seem to like it. And really is kind of impressive when you think about it. Outside of maybe King Arthur stories or Journey to the West, what other kind of story has close to this kind of staying power and reinvention in history in modern times? And if you look at king Arthur stories they have definitely been heavily reworked and reinvented over the last several hundred years.

#18 Posted by Hunter5024 (5614 posts) -

You guys are making me want to play Dynasty Warriors 8, even though I thought I was totally sick of that story.

#19 Edited by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

@slag said:

Admittedly it's been a very long time since I played any Koei game. but I never though Dynasty Warriors was the story drive one. There will be long massive fights and then quick update cutscenes in a fluid sort of way, kind of like a Soap Opera.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, at least in past games I've played there is so little establishment of characters, it's hard to follow what's going on understand the significance of anything that happens also like a Soap Opera.

I've always felt it was Romance of the 3 Kingdoms fan service and had no problem constantly reinterpreting the source material

Which is a-ok, people seem to like it. And really is kind of impressive when you think about it. Outside of maybe King Arthur stories or Journey to the West, what other kind of story has close to this kind of staying power and reinvention in history in modern times? And if you look at king Arthur stories they have definitely been heavily reworked and reinvented over the last several hundred years.

Off the top of my head, The Water Margin is another that's been reinterpreted or inspired a number of similar stories. You might better recognize the story by the name Suikoden.

As for Dynasty Warriors, the games do provide basic background information for those that want it. The Encyclopedia is quite robust and in the past couple of installments of the series, it's gotten more organized, with not just a summary of major events of the book and character biographies, but a timeline and catalog of the major battles.

Liu Bei is always made into a hero and Cao Cao always into a villain where they lie somewhere in between (of course both tread all over the crown's authority as does Sun Quan, but that's more or less the norm in times of turmoil with a weak ruler). I liked the ridiculous portrayal of Sima Yi as like a megalomaniacal villain, now that they've made him into some sort of realistic father figure it's decidedly less amusing. Cao Pi might have been cunning but he wasn't an "evil genius;" just a competent scion of his father who is easily the best strategist/leader/commander/everythingexceptwarrior of the era. The Sima brothers are basically the same depiction in the book, competent leaders. Now there's dozens of identical depictions in the Koei games so I don't really get why they would care about differentiating but if they do then why not?

The funniest thing about the focus on Jin is that almost everyone competent had died by that point, it's really Deng Ai vs Jiang Wei is the only compelling storyline and the book itself is much less interesting once Kongming dies. From what I can tell Koei emphasizes Deng Ai as a warrior instead of as a commander when it's much more the latter. Jin just isn't that interesting even if you somehow bring in long dead heroes of the previous generation to spice things up; it's basically what would have happened if Red Cliffs didn't occur; i.e. the dominant northern army wins slowly but surely with no surprises along the way. I also find it hilarious that Liu Shan is depicted as anything but a completely and utterly useless motherfucker; he's actually pretty good in combat in the games but he should be a joke character or like moving around on a throne; tossup whether him or Yuan Shu is a more useless person.

Also worth noting is that Cheng Pu is one of the best Wu warriors and has still taken a back seat to inferiors Han Dang, Ding Feng, and so on. Why does Guo Huai become a character? I mean you can characterize him as ridiculously as you want but he's still almost completely meaningless. Why no Zhang Song or Zhang Ren or Yan Yan or Hao Zhao... the list of better characters than randomly generated female or inferior male selection is endless.

It was a lot easier to cast Sima Yi as a villain when the bulk of his plotting wasn't covered in the actual games. The series would always end the games with the Wuzhang Plains, and then oh, China was unified. His character is allowed something more now that the Jin faction and the actual unification are depicted (though he's still a pretty cocky dick.)

On a sidenote, apparently Sima Yi's Japanese voice actor passed away, if I heard right. :(

I still have to play through the Jin story in DW8, but in DW7, I found it pretty compelling because it was such a new twist on the old DW formula. The focus wasn't so much on Deng Ai as it was ultimately on Sima Zhao, who the series depicts as the lazy younger son of of Sima Yi (and not anything like his cackling schemer of a father). At that point, Shu and Wu were both falling apart and weren't living up to the previous generation's ideals, so in a way, the Jin were (shades of gray taken into account), the heroes of the DW7 story because they were able to put down the infighting Wu and the desperate, incompetent Shu.

It's really interesting who they pick to truly characterize and how for these games. Guo Huai seems like an odd choice, but he did provide a narrative link that connect Xiahou Yuan of Wei and Xiahou Ba of Jin (though really he was a Shu character for most of DW7). Sort of like how they downplayed the bitterness between Zhong Hui and Deng Ai.

But really, I think of a lot of Jin's depiction in DW7 had to just do with the fact that they were the new faction, and as such were made the stars of the show, at least for one game.

#20 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

@slag: Again King Arthur is a straight up myth more or less while Three Kingdoms is pretty close to historical as 700 year old stuff gets, nothing has a comparable impact in the west as it basically combines the impact of almost every major work combined up to and including the Iliad and the Odyssey.

#21 Posted by mao16 (107 posts) -

Yeah no one can truly be called good but at least there is semi-verifiable historical evidence, and the novel glorifying the fact that early on Shu did spend lots of resources on public works such as roads, improving farm lands etc. So much so that they spent more on public works then the war effort/ this actually jeopardize their war effort early on. Recent stuff in particular love to make Liu Bei the idealist who's willing to sacrifice the war effort to better the lives of his people while Zhuge Liang is forced to make the best of his situation and try to go to war with what little he's given. That and try to knock some sense into Liu Bei that you can't better the people if you're conquered by the guys with the bigger swords. Basically it's a fact in the novel that before Zhuge Liang came along, Liu Bei was always on the the losing side and never actually won a major batter or any land for that matter since he was always so concerned for the peasants and put them before smart tactical choices. Zhuge Liang was so amazing that he could win battles perfectly while being at a massive disadvantage since Liu Bei forbid him from doing anything he regarded as being immoral.

How true this really was is anyones guess as records from almost a thousand years ago are sketchy at best. Now compare that to everyone else and yeah, everyone else looks terrible morally.

#22 Edited by Slag (4244 posts) -

@fredchuckdave said:

@slag: Again King Arthur is a straight up myth more or less while Three Kingdoms is pretty close to historical as 700 year old stuff gets, nothing has a comparable impact in the west as it basically combines the impact of almost every major work combined up to and including the Iliad and the Odyssey.

True, it really is pretty special the little I know of it. King Arthur was about as close of a similarity that I could think of in terms of scope and longevity and as you pointed out even that is not very close.

@hailinel said:

@slag said:

{Slag said some stuff}

Off the top of my head, The Water Margin is another that's been reinterpreted or inspired a number of similar stories. You might better recognize the story by the name Suikoden.

As for Dynasty Warriors, the games do provide basic background information for those that want it. The Encyclopedia is quite robust and in the past couple of installments of the series, it's gotten more organized, with not just a summary of major events of the book and character biographies, but a timeline and catalog of the major battles.

Hunh, I knew Suikoden was based on something else. Didn't realize it was that old and famous of a work. That's cool to know. I really like that series quite a bit.

re: DW- That does sound neat! I haven't played since Dw3 or 4 so maybe it's time for me to give the series another go . Thanks!

#23 Posted by Hailinel (24400 posts) -

@slag: No problem. Also of note, the Warriors Orochi series makes reference to a diverse number of fictional works and historical eras, as well. It's pretty cool to see how they interpreted the characters they've pulled from the various sources and how, despite the stylistic designs, the ways in which the characters accurately reflect their source material and eras. It's one of those aspects that people just won't catch if they don't recognize the figures or do their own study.

#24 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

@slag: Worth noting about Suikoden is that every strategist character is basically Zhuge Liang; most obviously the one named Shu in Suikoden II.