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Review: Hokuto No Ken / Fist of the North Star (Sega the Best)

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I’ve been a long time fan of the Fist of the North Star series, both old and new OVA, and there was very little love given to the series here in the US. What I mean is that we received roughly 30 out of 152 episodes, a cartoon movie and (regrettably) a live action movie as well. In Japan, they were cranking out toys, games, lunch boxes, blankets, everything. Since the progression of gaming technology, there were better Fist of the North Star fighting games. Well, I wish that were true in this case…

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Where to begin? Let’s talk about the character roster first. There’s 10 playable characters from the old FotNS (Fist of the North Star), and that’s it. No one from the newer OVA or side characters from the old one. You’d think there would be room for more, since the same company that worked on the Guilty Gear series (Sammy) developed this. But whatever, the characters have their own distinct style of fighting which all fighting games should have anyways. Though that doesn’t mean you’ll have a blast with each one, not at all. There’s a clunky feel to every character, as if their entire body was made of molasses. Of course the bigger guys, such as Roah and Mr. Heart, are a bit slower but make up for that in strength. This is some how remedied with a dash button to also use in a combination with the attack buttons. Still, it doesn’t help get rid of that clunky feel.

There are other modes to play with as well, such as the VS CPU, VS 2P, History, and Training. Now, History mode is very interesting out of the rest, because it requires you to complete a scene that was a part of the FotNS storyline. Some are hard as all Hell, while others can be a walk in the park. Then again, it also depends on your fighting skills. If you’ve played any other fighting game, then you know about the Training mode, VS CPU, and VS 2P.

Then there’s the art work, and there is not a whole lot to say about that. The game could look a whole lot better, since the character animation looks a bit limited compared to Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, and even Marvel vs Capcom. The game just looks nice, that’s all. Yes it was a direct port from the arcade, but that doesn’t mean they could’ve spent some time fixing it up a bit. If you want to make a great game, you have to spend the time to do so. The only animation that truly standout, is the Deadly Attack from Kenshiro. Which leads me to the special attack system in the game.

It’s simple to pull off almost any of the moves, especially the Fatal and Deadly Attacks. Every character has seven stars that will go down depending on the number of attacks/moves used. Once they are all gone, then you will be able to pull off a Deadly Attack, meaning it will be a one-hit kill. Just have to be sure to time it just right, or else you will have to deplete another star before doing so again.

The music isn’t so great either, but not bad enough to mute. It’d be nice if there were a more diverse mix of music, and the sound bytes aren’t all that thrilling too. I’d expect a more influenced rock n’ roll mix of music, something that will keep you interested in the game a bit more. For example, Marvel vs Capcom had a great selection of Jazz that fit well with the game, and the stages in Street Fighter had their own music tracks, but didn’t bring the game score down for that. This game’s music however, just doesn’t cut it for me. Sorry.

Here’s my biggest issue with the game, the broken English, or should I say, Engrish. Yes, when you are defeated in the game and the count down reaches zero, a graphic text will read “Thanx for your playing!” Yeah, read that again. Does it make sense? There’s a few more, but don’t let that make you turn from this game. It’s a GOOD fighting game, not bad or great, just good. This game does not live up to the legacy of the Fist of the North Star, so hopefully one day, there will be one that can…

Thanks to gamenet.com.hk and ukresistance.co.uk for the pics!
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