Pity Koei, originator and now final bastion of the pseudo-historical battlefield brawler. Its flagship Dynasty Warriors, at one time the biggest-selling series in all of Japan, is viewed by most of the Western world with disdain or, worse, indifference. Once notable for pushing more polygons around an environment than just about anything else and tasking its player to carve their way, often single-handedly, through overwhelming, spear-wielding odds, the series fast settled into a rhythm of bi-annual updates that, on the surface at least, have done little to freshen the formula.
A one-trick war-horse, then? It's a familiar but unfair accusation, as too often critics and gamers ignore each iteration's subtle tweaks and novelties simply because of the aesthetic similarities to what has gone before.
Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is a concerted attempt by the developer to approach the series in a new way, asking, more forcefully this time, that players reassess this peculiar and bombastic brand of action game. Set within the now-familiar Three Kingdoms era of Ancient China, you choose a faction and a character within that faction to play as and set about winning the war, battle by battle.
KOEI has announced that Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce (PS3/360) will be released in Europe on 16th February.
The PS3 Store refresher boasts new games, demos and DLC aplenty, while PlayStation Home opens a new Events Space for Buzz!
Get questions right and a tomato will be lobbed at a rotating Buzz statue. Get 10 questions right in a row and you will unlock a tomato head to put on your Home avatar.
Smash Cars and Battle Tanks are the low-key PSN additions, although their price - £12 and £8 respectively - is steep. Conversely, Crash Commando has had a price-cut to promote new content added today.
While it's lovely to imagine that game creation is packed with artistic geniuses and auteurs beset from all sides by flashes of stunning inspiration, the harsh reality is that plenty of games are borne of more humble, even cynical, thought processes. Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is exactly such a game, and its inspiration isn't so much worn on its sleeve as flown above its house on a flag the size of a double-decker bus.
"What's setting the charts alight in Japan that isn't Nintendo's latest Professor Cookingmama's Brain Dog?" KOEI has clearly pondered - and its answer is to combine the long-running Dynasty Warriors series with some of the magic pixie dust that's made Capcom's Monster Hunter into the saviour of the PSP in Japan. The combination of a little from Column A with a little from Column B is blatant and unapologetic.
On the surface, this remains very much a Dynasty Warriors title. Choosing a hero from the semi-mythological pantheon of Chinese history, your primary focus is on hacking and slashing through dozens of lesser mortals, stopping between battles to power up your superhuman warrior through equipment and add-on upgrades.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Dynasty Warriors. Remember, instead, the days of the Dreamcast, and the first time you ever played Phantasy Star Online. Remember the sheer logistical improbability of it all - the trouble you had getting hold of a keyboard and trailing your phone line across your house just so you could meet up with friends online. Remember meeting up and dancing in the lobbies, before heading out, just the four of you. Remember the way that everybody was so nice and friendly, and how higher-level characters (or everybody on the Japanese servers) would drop gifts on the floor before nannying you through the difficult bits.