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Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2

At first glance, it’s apparent that Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 has a lot in common with the Tecmo Koei’s Musou series (Dynasty Warriors, Warriors Orochi, Gundam). This is even more so than the original game. In case you didn’t know already, Fist of the North Star is a Japanese manga series that was written by Buronson and drawn by Tetsuo Hara. It was originally published in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1983-1988. To this day, the popularity is still strong among Japanese manga readers. Those who have always wanted to play it as a game have finally gotten their wish with Ken’s Rage 2.

The game’s new Legend Mode is a streamlined adaptation of the manga.  It includes favorites such as the Celestial Emperor, Land of Shura, and Five Chariot Guardians story arcs. The Raoh saga has been completely revamped from the original. If you’ve never been introduced to the world of Fist of the North Star, don’t fright. The game covers everything from the manga series. Regarding controls, the game slowly teaches you the basics of combat right from the beginning, so you’ll be ready to pummel down some biker punks with confidence.

As always, your mission is to defeat endless supply of enemies that never seem to stop coming, take down their bases/stations, collect “Karma”, and then defeat your rival/boss. Based on how well you accomplish these tasks, you will be given a grade from A to E. By collecting Karma, you can receive experience points for each of your parameters (Life, Aura, Attack, Defense and Technique). There are also scrolls that you can acquire/equip to enhance your character’s parameters and gain unique skills.

There’s also Dream Mode which features an original take on the Fist of the North Star manga. With over 20 characters available to play as and original stories, there’s a lot to see and do. I enjoyed this mode as much as the Legend’s mode, especially since you can get a recap of the whole series, while interacting in the game at the same time. You can also play local and online 2P Co-op. Just make sure to work as a team since if one character dies then, “YOU ARE ALREADY BOTH DEAD”. Playing with a friend is something I would highly recommend, because it makes the sometimes monotonous gameplay feel fresh once again.

Even though “You are already dead”, the enemies still line up to get clobbered. There’s your normal, strong, and charge attacks that you can chain combos with. In the original, it was hard to change directions once you started a combo. You could also only hit the first target you see to start one. Now with the improved combo system, you can choose multiple points to start a combo and connect them with multiple targets. It’s also easier to change targets, making the combo system a more satisfying experience. Also, now you have the ability to dash and evade, adding more to your repertoire of moves.

Gather up enough “Aura” and you can unleash a character’s signature move. There are also some specific abilities that are unique to certain characters. Nanto Seiken Warriors can use timely strikes while they are in their heighted awareness state. Falco and Fudo can add a Power Charge to their last attack. Hokuto Ruken Warriors can do charge attack combos. There are others and as you can see, playing with multiple characters can offer unique experiences. Remember to check out their moves list to see what each warrior is capable of so you can fight effectively in style.

For the most part, the graphics do a decent job of portraying the apocalyptic world of the series. Even manga style cut scenes appear to intensify the action. The settings are pretty dull, dreary, and pretty barren of life, but you are in a wasteland after all, so you can’t be too surprised. But with a game like this, the action makes up for it.

You’re either a fan of these types of games or not. I usually don’t enjoy the Musou series as much as others do. Maybe it’s the source material or the improved combat, but the game has certainly changed my mind. Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 is not for everyone, but at least give it a chance. Overall, even with some issues, the game is pretty good for what it is. I’ve even gotten interested in the Fist of the North Star manga and anime! If you want to be a “Defender of the Weak”, I recommend you picking up a copy for the Xbox 360. The game is also available on the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii U as a digital download title.

I would like to thank the publisher Koei Tecmo for providing us with a review copy of the game.

Pros: Faithful to the manga, great amount of playable characters, unique moves, online 2P co-op

Cons: Graphics, fighting can get a little repetitive after a while, acquired taste

Score: 7.5

VGM: “New World”

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