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31 Websites of Christmas
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 16, 2004   |   Episode 23 (Show Archive)  

Back in the days of cartridges Koei made a name for themselves by being one of the few companies to make primarily Japanese-themed war simulators. Games like Nobunaga's Ambition, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Genghis Kahn were released on all kinds of systems all over the world, and a few even spawned a series of sequels. These days Koei's theme has been reduced to only a few franchises, one of which you will probably remember if you grew up on their classics.

I don't think any of us are knocking Dynasty Warriors, or the success of that franchise (and everything connected to it), but these days their attention has been almost exclusively focused in that one basket. With a number of other franchises finally

Carmen Electra seems to end up in all the video games, undressing must not be paying the bills!
seeing the light of day in 2005, including Kessen, we may see some diversity after all. Should we expect any of that variety in the website?

Look and Design: There's a part of me that is relieved that the Koei website isn't nearly as complicated as their video games can be. But on the other hand, this site doesn't really have very much to offer, which seems a little out of step for a company like Koei. The overall look is pretty standard stuff, with featured games, news, a rotating banner, and tons of other stuff we've talked about before. The front page is pretty boring, since there's hardly anything on it, and the three pictures under the rotating banner just look dwarfed when put next to the news and review sections on the side.

The good news is that if you're a fan of fancy internet effects and tracers on your mouse cursor, then you're in luck! Although I can't figure out a reason for Koei to resort to web-confetti, but they have, and it didn't take long before it got on my nerves. This is nowhere as crowded and hard to look at as Codemaster site, but it still has its problems.

Accessibility: As with most websites with very few games to talk about, Koei's site is especially easy to surf. The problem is, Koei has a LOT of games to talk about, from old, hard to play strategy games from the days of the NES, Genesis and Super NES, but they only seem to be interested in talking about their new, hard to play strategy games. Considering that no other site actually talked about their old games I probably shouldn't complain,

Here's Catwoman before she hunts a leather-clad mouse!
but here it just seems like Koei was missing the boat on this. If you're going to release a game called Romance of the Three Kingdoms IX, then you should have some info on games 1 through 8 on your website. Just a suggestion.

Insider Information: Much like the rest of the page, Koei's new section is pretty generic stuff. The color scheme is interesting (very 1960s chic), but you're really looking at a super long list of news items. Thankfully the company has gone ahead and made sure to mention what game it's about above everything else, so if you're only looking for Dynasty Warriors news, it will be easy to dig through this grave of news. No matter where you go the Akira Kurosawa-inspired picture on the top of the page never leaves you, always watching what you read in his news section. Spooky!

Parting Thoughts: Speaking of Akira Kurosawa, I noticed that Koei plans on making a game based on writings. Here at the Defunct Games offices we hope it's not based on one of his real movies, because we're big believers that movies like High & Low, the Hidden Fortress, and Ran should be preserved in movie form only. But if they're absolutely, positively going to do this based on a movie . then why not Yojimbo and Sanjuro? They would be about the best targets, and certainly have a character that would fit well in a video game world. Oh yeah, and how about this time let's not make this a futuristic game set in year 20XX . what is this, Robocop?


(Important Note: This review was written in 2004. As is the case with websites things tend to change and get moved around. We've decided to cover major companies who should have a presence on the web for many years to come, but the actual reviews of the layout may not be relevant for more than a month to a year. Having said that, we're hoping this article was still interesting, and if not, at least you go this extra little paragraph of explanation that you wouldn't normally get on the other websites.)


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