Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage Review
Undoubtedly a fan-service centric game, Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage is the new beat em up by Tecmo Koei, famous for the Dynasty Warriors series. When we previewed it at E3, it looked quite promising. How did the full game turn out?
The game stays similar to most Warriors games before it; players walk across the field, taking out crowds of grunts, using various combos, and fighting periodic mini-bosses and bosses. It's fun at first as players try different characters and try to figure out their combos, but eventually, they'll find a trusty few and repeat them countless times throughout the stage. If you're not in the mood to repeat button presses that often, be prepared to doze off several times throughout.
But, of course, that is a curse associated with any Warriors game. Oddly enough, that is not the biggest problem with Ken’s Rage. The game just feels…slow. Sure, it adds realism and impact to each punch, but it just doesn’t feel like a worthwhile sacrifice to slow down the game so much.
Ken's Rage stands out with its fanservice, highlighted by recreations of the characters' signature moves from the anime and ridiculous amount of blood. Previous Warriors games only gave characters one musou move each; Ken's Rage allows players to stock up to four signature moves, this game's equivalent of musou attacks. In addition, more can be unlocked over time. This helps remedy the monotony of the gameplay and gives players more options to either clear crowds of grunts or focus damage on one miniboss.
The ridiculous amount of blood is also a nod at the show, with most deaths being specific to who did the killing. Characters can burst and explode into a pool of blood, get sliced and diced at the hands of the Nanto style, or balloon up and be sent to heaven by Toki. The uninitiated may be confused at first by these kills, but Fist of the North Star fans will ooze at this level of fan service.
While to most gamers, voice acting wouldn’t matter that much, anime fans and enthusiasts know that it can make or break the tone of a game. Most likely knowing this, Tecmo Koei included the original Japanese voices with this game. There’s almost no need to describe how great this feature is. Players get treated to the talents of Norio Wakamoto and Katsuyuki Konishi amongst others. These names should be instantly recognizable for most anime fans and it’s great to see their work intact for the American release.
Clearly, this game was meant to satisfy Fist of the North Star fans and it does so excellently. It features well known Japanese voice actors and a slew of ways to recreate the same bloodbaths as those in the anime. For general gamers, however, it may fall short for the same reason that most Warriors titles fail to attract people: monotony. Hack and slasher, beat-em-up, and Fist of the North Star fans, however, will find Ken’s Rage to be a fun new addition to the Warriors series.
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