Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage Review

Fist Logo


I hope you like that sound, because if you decide to play Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage, you’re going to hear it. A lot.

The house that Dynasty Warriors built pays homage in game form to one of the best anime series to ever exist, but unless you’re a fan of the series, you’ve no reason to play it. The engine is the same as the Dynasty Warriors games, just slower. The attacks, while awesome looking, are repetitive in action and in sound effects, the latter getting very annoying very quickly. The music is cool but not all that varied (SPOILER: Expect heavy metal). That’s not to say that Fist isn’t fun, but it’s a lot less so if you didn’t watch the show.

Gameplay is simple: approach bad guys, beat up bad guys, approach next set of bad guys, etc. There’s not much else to it. Your character can be leveled up, which will boost stats and unlock new abilities, but that’s about it. During battles, you’ll be mashing the two attack buttons together to unleash the same combos over and over again, which a special attack thrown in for good measure. The problem is, every time you do a special attack, the last hit shows three still screens followed a Japanese voice-over of the attack’s name. Every. Single. Time. It’s very annoying to have your flow of combat broken by something that, while aesthetically cool, is essentially unnecessary.

Fist Screen

Now I have my complaints, but at the end of the day, I’m playing one of my favorite anime series of all time, and that part of it is represented well. The game is faithful to the original story, retaining all of the characters, pivotal scenes, and even voice actors. Kenshiro is still a quiet, brooding badass, and Raoh is still a friggin’ jerk. I chose to play the game the same way that I watched the anime, in Japanese with subtitles, and that’s something I recommend everyone do. The authenticity that is added through playing the game in its native language cannot be quantified.

Visually, the game takes the anime and brings it into 2010, including all of the blood and gore. With specific attacks Kenshiro can literally make an enemy’s body explode into bloody bits. In the game, almost every enemy explodes into bloody bits, and it is GLORIOUS. Seeing the bad guys swell and distort before meeting their ends is quite satisfying. As much as I complained about the momentum-killing special attacks, all of the trademark moves from the anime are here, including the Hundred Crack Fist and the Twin Dragon Wave, and they’re all here in their full lightning-fast glory.

As much as I enjoyed Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage, a lot of my love stems from also being a fan of the source material. For someone who’s never watched Fist before, the game loses a lot of its luster, instead become a monotonous button-masher with a great coat of visual paint. Anime fans will be all over it, but gamers without the anime credentials will be left out. Simply put, as far as any enthusiasm for this game from non-anime fans goes, it’s already dead.

3 out of 5


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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