Chu’s Dynasty is touted as a combination between the frenetic gameplay of Super Smash Bros. and the controlled, one-on-one battles of Street Fighter. The development team at Tribetoy has managed to not only create an intriguing game that plays very well, but also an incredibly well produced one. The game has production values that are up there with some Xbox Live Arcade games, surpassing others. Chu’s Dynasty is a little rough around the edges, but these flaws are understandable and easy to overlook (for the most part).
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One of the most important aspects about fighting games are their tight controls. You have to be able to stay in control to be able to pull off combos of increasing complexity. For the most part, Chu’s Dynasty does a great job at this. Initially, the combat may seem complex (at least to me, a newbie in the fighting game world), but it’s easy to adapt to with detailed tutorials. The main problem is the Xbox 360 controllers awful dpad, which makes it difficult to pull off some moves. Often, I found myself randomly jumping (as up on the pad or stick makes the character jump). This isn’t really a flaw on the developer’s part, it’s just unfortunate.
With four playable characters, there is a surprising amount of variety and depth between each character. Viotale is a large blue creature with slow, but powerful moves. Noah is a fast, ninja-like character with a focus on agility. Dr. Chu is a unique, stout character who focuses on ranged attacks. Heta is the only girl of the group, and she focuses on quicker, magical attacks. Each of these four characters are balanced, so that no one character can excel over another based on potential alone. It takes skill for a player to refine their ability with each character.
The game could be smoother. It plays slightly choppy, and when the camera pans out it causes some oddity. While this could deter some potential players, I actually enjoyed the sense of style that the choppiness gave the game. It felt more like a painting, with the moves each character was unleashing the brush strokes. Yes, Chu’s Dynasty could have been smoother with some more polish, but I think it’s better off the way it is.
Speaking of style, Chu’s Dynasty is absolutely fantastic in that regard. First off, the game is stunningly beautiful; not just for an indie game. Backgrounds and characters alike are vibrant with color. Simply put, the game looks amazing. This is compounded by an Asian style in the menu graphics, artwork, and design. Loading screens give background information to the characters, every screen is filled with color, and voice acting complements the game’s introduction. Tribetoy has clearly gone the extra mile in making sure that Chu’s Dynasty looks and plays great.
The story, on the other hand, is a little lacking. Fighting game stories aren’t known for being great, though, so it’s not much of a disappointment. Based on the voice acting and loading screens, the four characters are involved in a conflict related to the end of the world. I didn’t pick up on what this entailed, but again, story is clearly not the focus in fighting games. However, as lacking as the story is, it is a nice addition, as some fighting games on the indie marketplace completely lack a story entirely. In some sense, it’s great that the story is there.
Chu’s Dynasty features a multiplayer mode, limited to local multiplayer. It is crippling to this game that there isn’t an online mode, which (even if it had been scarcely populated) would have been a welcome addition. The local multiplayer is fun, and definitely akin to Super Smash Bros., but that extra mode would have been fantastic.
While it’s not common to see an indie game priced at 240 Microsoft points (or $3.00), Chu’s Dynasty is absolutely worth every cent of that. Tribetoy has done a wonderful job at creating a great fighting game with an incredible sense of style. The little parts that the team put so much effort into make the game worth it, as it really shows that the developers care for and enjoy their creation. Chu’s Dynasty ultimately succeeds as a combination between Super Smash Bros. and Street Fighter; the gameplay is fun enough to warrant multiple plays (and multiple players), and the style makes the game rise above the competition.