With the wide array of titles that Koei Tecmo has under their name and the many Warriors games that they release many have wondered exactly when they would finally put everything together into one game. While a few crossovers have happened in the past thanks to the Warriors Orochi series, they have finally gathered together some of their most recognizable characters, alongside a few new and obscure ones, into a game all about throwing together these characters into a new world where they will fight various foes as well as each other. With this game, Warriors All-Stars, now available in the West is it worth picking up or has the shark been jumped?
In a mysterious land where fox-like humanoids reside, the world is dying. The magical spring that nourishes the land has begun to dry up and legends tell of an ancient ritual that will summon heroes capable of restoring power to the spring. As such, the young Tamaki, following the information passed down to her by Queen Sayo, performs the ritual with the last of the spring’s power in an attempt to summon these heroes. Unfortunately something goes awry and while numerous heroes are summoned to the land the rest of them are scattered across the continent.
This leads to Tamaki and her two royal family members gathering different heroes under their control and although the world might be coming to an end, these siblings begin to battle one another with the one left standing meant to become the new ruler. This serves as a satisfying set up to bring the wide array of heroes together while giving players something to aim for if they happen to care about the main story. This is especially true thanks to the fact that there are a large number of endings that can be obtained throughout the game.
These branching storylines all have various events that must take place and this gives players plenty of chances to replay the title as various characters since not only do character interactions change depending on who you happen to start as, the core story also isn’t too long, allowing for multiple playthroughs without feeling bogged down by the length of each completion. Since the way characters interact with one another across their numerous series tends to be the bread and butter for this game, this is a great way to experience as much as possible and see numerous interactions for fans who’ve wondered just what would happen if certain characters came face to face.
For the most part the core combat in Warriors All-Stars remains the same as one would expect as players are tasked with facing off against hundreds of standard enemies at a time while occasionally facing off against enemy leaders while fighting with light and heavy combos as well as the occasional ultimate attack when your special gauge is filled, taking down various enemy bases along the way that provide certain buffs or items as you advance through the stage. That is roughly where the similarities end however as almost every one of the thirty playable characters available in this game has a unique playstyle to them.
While certain Warriors veteran fighters such as Yukimura Sanada and Lu Bu will control in a standard and expected way, when you bring in fighters like Oka from Toukiden, William from Nioh, Laegrinna from the Deception series, Marie Rose from Dead or Alive, Kasumi and Ayane from Ninja Gaiden, and even Plachta and Sophie from Atelier Sophie, there are plenty of unique styles to take into account and while certain fighters have had their moves modified a bit to work in a Warriors setting, nearly all of them still feature unique attacks that are reminiscent of their original games. This includes Laegrinna laying down traps that can be used to take down foes, Sophie throwing out items to deal damage, and much more. This allows for a huge amount of variety when it comes to combat and as you encounter and recruit various fighters into your group as you progress through the game the story will allow you to change your main character before combat to allow you to change things up whenever you feel like.
In fact, while you may start with only one ally to start with Warriors All-Stars allows up to four allies to venture into battle alongside your main fighter. This allows players to call on them to perform certain special moves that can deal damage, heal your character, or even provide buffs and de-buffs to the enemy. Using these skills triggers a lengthy cool down so you’ll need to be careful of when to use them at times. Players can also simply push the D-pad in a certain direction to call that ally into battle alongside your main character, mimicking their attacks and allowing you to deal huge chains of damage to enemies.
Accompanying these new skills is a special Rush mode that can be triggered by clicking the right stick. This mode can be activated once during any battle and a second time once you slay a thousand enemies and this places players into a limited time frenzy that allows them to face off against endless amounts of enemies while your allies cheer you on from the corners of the screen, extending the time the more opponents you take down and occasionally launching attacks of their own, creating a colorful frenzy that is as flashy as one can possibly imagine.
While players will level up throughout their time in the game, as well as gain bond levels with their accompanying allies that provide certain buffs that are poorly explained, the game also makes use of a “Bravery” system. Starting combat players will be at level one of Bravery with other enemy generals and commanders having a certain Bravery level of their own. To raise your level you must either slay plenty of standard enemies, complete sub-missions, take over bases, and other standard tasks. The higher your Bravery the more damage you’ll deal and more than a few times this can feel like busywork depending on the enemies you are facing off against.
Another such way to upgrade characters comes in the form of Cards that drop at the end of battle. These cards can be used with materials that can create certain buffs that will be applied to certain characters when that card is equipped. This card system is best thought of as a single buff item that can be swapped out for stronger ones as you progress, though be prepared for plenty of over detailed mechanics surrounding them if you try your hand at crafting new cards or attempting other mechanics with them outside of simply equipping and occasionally applying skills to them.
It is worth noting that Warriors All-Stars is also lacking in a few areas when it comes to game modes. First and most unfortunate of all is the fact that there is no Free Mode to simply take your favorite characters and lead them into combat with no consequences; though in its place are numerous frivolous missions in the story mode that can be used to grind various necessities if you so wish. The other lacking feature is multiplayer in any form. Players cannot take part in any online mode, which would usually be alright but there is also no local co-op mode of any kind, which is quite unusual in a game that touts as many unique characters as this one and even features your chosen allies fighting alongside you more often than not.
Visuals & Audio
The developers of Warriors All-Stars made the correct choice by making sure that all of the characters from the various crossovers have kept their original appearances as some charm would have been lost if certain anime-based designs had been swapped to the more serious designs of the Warriors franchise. This, combined with the numerous foes that range from Atelier Puni and Toukiden demons to simple furry infantry, and you have a game that isn’t afraid to show just how crazy the battlefield can become and in this case, that happens to be a good thing.
The soundtrack for the game works quite well and there are numerous stages that are pulled from certain games that have themes that continue to fit perfectly even when paired with the hectic combat that is a Warriors style game. The game does retain only the original Japanese voice work for every character which tends to be fitting more often than not but it can be a bit disappointing when certain bits of dialogue aren’t given subtitles during combat.
Warriors All-Stars has a little something for everyone who happens to be a fan of the Warriors series as well as any of Koei Tecmo’s other series. With a sizable roster of characters ranging the gambit of recognizable to obscure and serious to comedic, there is a wide array of combat styles to keep players from burning out while they experience hours of nicely designed gameplay to try and experience all of the different branching paths that the story takes. That being said, the lack of even local multiplayer and a few obtuse systems hurt a game that focuses on the sillier side of things.