Fist of the North caught the public's eye in the early 80s as a long run in Weekly ShÃ´nen Jump, which was written by Buronson and drawn by Tetsuo Hara, it then spanned into various other mangas as well as anime series'. Some of you may remember Kenshiro best from the late 80s anime series, which is what got us at Gamercast hooked on the series. Now for the first time ever the UK and US will see the release of an actual Fist of the North Star game.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage came out back on March 25th 2010 in Japan under the name of Hokuto Musou and Tecmo Koei were nice enough to to bring down some copies (NTSC-J) to the London MCM Expo for the public to play.
Tecmo Koei are of course the developers of the well-known Dynasty Warriors games, the main games in the Musou series. So it made perfect sense for them to develop a Fist of the North Star game, as the hack n' slash/beat 'em up gameplay would suit Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken fighting style.
The main game at the MCM London Expo that I was looking forward to was Fist of the North Star, so it was the first game I rushed over to in order to play. I was looking at the game from a fan's perspective as well from a critical view. The controls were extremely easy to get used to, a normal attack, strong attack, throw, special move, jump etc.
One thing that I felt let the game down slightly was the character models of the enemy gang members, of which there were only a couple of variants, which made everyone look a little too similar, this was also consistent with the innocent citizens, that were all the same model.
I am unsure if the game is true to the anime and manga, as although I was playing the first level of the game which should have focused on Zeed taking Rin hostage, although I was told to skip the cutscenes by Charlotte as there were a large number of people wanting to play the game, so I cannot verify this.
The combat is of course the same as Dynstasy Warriors, so it feels somewhat fractured when playing, if you are constantly mashing the buttons, you will find yourself punching air a lot of the time, however, not every game can have the fluid combat system of Batman Arkham Asylum. Either way it still works absolutely fine as a game, managing to add a good noticable balance between the normal and strong attacks.
Overall the spirit of the series is brought through in Ken's large array of special moves, including his trademark 'North Star Hundred Crack Fist' which involves a large flurry of punches which causes a breakdown in your enemy's internal organs, finally resulting in a painful death. Other special moves can be chosen from the dpad, allowing Ken to perform different attacks. Unfortunately my Japanese isn't as good as it should be, so I was unsure of the other special attacks that were present in the game. Hopefully you will be able to unlock more and assign them to buttons on the d-pad, for a wider variety of moves to use.
Althought the game has it's small downsides, for once UK gamers will be able to play a Fist of the North Star game without the need to import. I will currently recommend it to fans of the Fist of the North Star and those of the Musou series, I can't wait to have a play of a UK version with English text as I will definately be picking up Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage. For now please enjoy the gameplay footage from the first level.
Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage is set to be released this Autumn for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, with no confirmed date as of yet.