Well here we go again with Japanese Manga - renowned for the outrageous characters and over the top action - making yet another transition to video game.
Koei’s Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 is the sequel to the original Ken’s Rage. It introduces new characters, new enemies and stages and the on-screen action is trademark over the top - but is it any good?
Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 grips storylines from the Manga comic books written by Buronson in Legend mode following an assortment of warriors from the comics but focusing more on Kenshiro, who is the centralised character, battling a violent gang known as Zeed. The gang is attacked and other members find that their comrades have been ripped apart from the inside; one survivor says the word “Hokuto” before he dies. It is soon discovered that Kenshiro is the owner of the Seven Stars of Hokuto, which gives him superior strength and abilities enabling him to stand ground and easily take care of hundreds of gang members simultaneously. Zeed soon vow to take Kenshiro down along with this power he seems to possess. This is one of the four storylines told in Ken’s Rage 2, enabling players to control a small number of characters each outrageously different from the next with their own particular set of skills. The storylines are definitely out there and might be enough to keep interest. However, it is dragged down by the hideously frequent loading times which ruin what could have been one hell of a game.
Then we have Dream mode which allows control of more characters to follow other stories from the Manga comic through a number of quests.
The gameplay is reminiscent of the Dynasty Warriors games. Waves of hundreds of enemies fill the screen for you to battle no matter which character you are. However, each character has attacks and combos like Kenshiros Hokuto Hundred Crack Fist, which takes the bulk of the hundreds out at once - fantastic to pull off. These are signature moves which are each warrior’s most powerful attacks. Signature moves are changed in-game using the controller but only one can be selected at a time and are unlockable as the game progresses. Special moves are activated by one button which are diverse crowd-controlling moves. For example, Kenshiro attacks two sides of the enemy’s head, causing them to explode - damaging enemies around them. Rei has a forward charge move that ploughs through the waves of enemies. Overall the game is extremely fun to play due to the assortment of attacks and constant action but it is bogged down by the lack of strategy causing the player to button-mash, which shouldn’t be but is extremely effective…..and bosses are easy.
Ken’s Rage 2 is typical Manga. Each character looks oversized with wild hairstyles and bulking ripped muscle tone that you would only find in a Schwarzenegger movie. The special attacks look seriously powerful and are decorated with coloured swishes and cracks that really add oomph to each attack.
The stages however are lifeless and bland and serve only as a background - but who cares when all you want to do is fight? Bosses are super-sized at times and look intimidating but in fact are really easy to take down.
The biggest fault that bogs this game down is the loading times. They are too frequent and too long. Let me give you an example; a cut scene will consist of a 15-20 second long sequence, then a loading screen for a minute, then another 15-second scene followed by another loading screen, rinse and repeat until it’s action time. It gets annoying quick but I urge players to endure to see the over the top exciting action this game has to offer.
Koei have defined the formula which makes Manga so popular and have transitioned it to video game successfully. The action is over-the-top and characters span unique and interestingly-wild storylines. But this is unfortunately pulled back by the frequent and over-long loading times. If you can overlook this you will see an exciting and outrageous action game that I really enjoyed.
I insist gamers give it a go but rent it first, as the loading times might be too much for some. Overall, a great action game.
Fist of the North star: Ken`s rage 2
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Genre: Manga fighting
Release date: Today (February 8)
Story – 3/5
Gameplay – 4/5
Graphics – 3.5/5
Overall – 3.5/5