Being a veteran of the Dynasty warriors games and it’s many similar titles, I wasn’t expecting much from Fist of the North Star: Ken’s rage. However, I was surprised to find it far crappier than Koei’s usual beat em up/hack n slash archetypes.
This is an odd game because the very first playthrough with the main character (Ken) is horrific. Ken is slow and controls much like a skydiving whale. Now after such a horrid time, most players won’t bother continuing but call me a glutton for punishment but I soldiered on. Amazingly, every other character plays passably well (some more than others).
For those who know nothing about Fist of the North Star, the basic plot is martial artists of the northern stars wage battle against the southern star martial artists in a post-apocalyptic setting. Each star has their own motive for battling the others. Up until last year this particular anime held the award for most bloody anime ever (start downloading gore lovers) however this game follows the manga not the anime.
Sadly during the fist playthrough this game does a poor job of explaining any of the plot. Stuff happens and you fight about it. It’s only during your next playthroughs that things begin to make sense. Some genuis or idiot (take your pick) decided that the plot lines for each character should only show what occurs from that particular character’s point of view. Only after you have played and beaten the game with every character does the entire story make sense.
The controls are relatively simple to learn and aside from the main character, function like any other typical Dynasty warriors game. You fight through hordes of enemies to reach a boss and then continue to fight. These games are pretty much the beat em ups of our generation much like Double Dragon or Final Fight, it’s mostly mindless mayhem and enjoyable to the very young or those who prefer not to think too much while gaming. Strategy is nonexistent, just punch punch punch and eventually you will win. There are no puzzles and there is a small amount of platforming, but it’s limited to climbing walls and jumping on cars.
The music for this game is some kind of heavy metal and is actually fairly decent although there isn’t much of it, it fits the game quite well.
The graphics are rendered quite nicely. Well, for the characters anyway. They look great, the special attacks look phenomenal and the blood and gore is quite nice. However the character’s hands are “too” rendered or something that I can’t explain very well but their hands look overly rendered or something. The background are absolutely and totally BLAND. Normally I don’t care about backgrounds too much but every stage and every inanimate object is a colorless, bland beige. Yes I know that it’s a post-apocalyptic setting and things should be pretty drab but it’s ridiculous.
If you’re twelve years old and somehow you know about Fist of the North Star then this is the game for you. As always when it comes to games by Koei, if you are looking for depth look elsewhere.
- Gratuitous gore
- Cool special attacks
- Mindless destruction
- Bland backgrounds
- Convoluted plot
- Mindless destruction
*Yeah, I know that I listed mindless destruction twice but hey, sometimes you feel like mindless destruction and sometimes you don’t.
Fist of the North Star: Ken’s rage was developed by Omega force and published by Koei. It was released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 and is available now for $59.99. The copy played for this review was a used retail copy.