Thursday 1 November 2018

Fist Of The North Star ★★★☆☆

‘Fist Of The North Star’, made by the developers of ‘Yakuza’, is a standalone story adaptation of the ‘Fist Of The North Star’ manga and anime. The game is set in the city of Eden, where you complete a whole new story for Kenshiro, the lead character. You start off in the wasteland of the world, on the search for your missing lover Yuria. Your quest leads you to find the city where you discover Yuria’s location and, much like the developer’s other games, the story ramps up from there with the difficult challenge of trying to enter the city, then exploring the map trying to find Yuria. The game does a good job of explaining the backstory of Kenshiro, as in the first few hours you will have many flashbacks, explaining the story for anyone who hasn’t seen the anime. This can feel disjointed at times though because you’re constantly going back and forth between the past and the present.

You will meet a whole new host of characters who are fully voiced and also some original characters from the manga and anime. One of the biggest draws of the ‘Yakuza’ games is the combat system, which has been integrated into ‘Fist Of The North Star’ as well and feels very fluid. You’ll sometimes be fighting up to twenty people at one time, unleashing a host of moves available to you. The main character has a special power called Hokuto Shinken which allows him to perform secret techniques to hit enemies’ pressure points, making them explode into a gloriously macabre amount of blood and guts. 

Aside from the combat, there is also a large range of side activities and sub-stories which again is very similar to the ‘Yakuza’ series. This will feel familiar but, after the 6+ ‘Yakuza’ games (including side games) it can feel perhaps too familiar like you’ve already done these things before, just with a different paint job. There are also mini-games that range from being a bartender to a doctor, which are definitely fun for the first few times that you try them but again, if you’ve played a ‘Yakuza’ game before then you know what to expect.

Graphics-wise it can be a little hard to look at times because it is running on the Yakuza 0 engine, rather than the one used most recently for ‘Yakuza 6’, meaning it can appear dated despite its cell-shaded style. It’s quite difficult to review such a game because, if you’ve played all of the ‘Yakuza’ games like I have, then playing a game that is so similar yet lacking the characters and charm that has been built up over the years can make it feel somewhat anti-climatic. That attachment to the characters isn’t there unless you’ve been reading the manga or watching the anime, and because of the impersonal nature of the quests, it can hard to develop this attachment from scratch.

If you have enjoyed the ‘Yakuza’ games previously then I think you will find something to love here, because the combat feels so similar but improved in some ways due to its obscenities and gore. If you haven’t then this definitely won’t be the one to change your mind - it’s a fun little side joint but is not going to push the boundaries of the genre.

Hannah Read

Fist Of The North Star at CeX

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