Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2

Released back in 2010, the original Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage was met with a reasonable amount of critical acclaim thanks largely to its careful adaptation of the original manga. The fact that it was wrapped-up in an intense action experience in the […]
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Released back in 2010, the original Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage was met with a reasonable amount of critical acclaim thanks largely to its careful adaptation of the original manga. The fact that it was wrapped-up in an intense action experience in the vein of the long running Warriors franchises didn’t hurt of course, allowing the development team at Omega Force to concentrate on meeting the demands of their eagerly awaiting fans.

Using the template that proved Dynasty Warriors: Gundam a success before it – and One Piece: Pirate Warriors since – Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage merged two franchises into a unique-yet-familiar experience. Unfortunately, in many ways it appears that Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 sticks to that template to far too great an extent, with the developers seemingly resting on their laurels and refusing to innovate with this sequel, instead simply building on what was already there.

Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 offers two gameplay modes for the solo player as well as two online variants; co-operative and competitive multiplayer. Legend Mode and Dream Mode are the core experiences, with the latter becoming available for many characters upon progress through the former. Sadly, beginning in Legend Mode will see Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 try it’s hardest to convince you it’s the dull, repetitive button masher than many truly believe it to be. The very first mission see you play three bouts of ‘kill x number of enemies to continue’ objectives, wherein the enemies are as about intelligent as a wet paper towel.

Things do of course get considerably better, but not until some significant process has been made. New mechanics are few and far between, and so players will have to fight through a number of levels of Legend Mode and returning experiences (many with poorer level design than in the first title) in order to reach anything worthy of note. Scrolls are perhaps the most important addition to the formula, allocated at the end of every level and at every save point during the either gameplay mode. Each scroll can increase up to three different parameters, with higher level scrolls offering greater benefits. Some scrolls also include additional skills, such as increasing your attack strength when your health is low or, and up to five scrolls can be equipped at any one time. Further still, equipping scrolls with the same parameter bonus atop one another will create a nexus, which will add even greater bonuses to said statistic. Of course, this all builds to a system of constant manipulation, where each new scroll earned can see players swapping in-and-out in order to cover a weakspot or maximise the bonus attained.

A number of new playable characters feature in Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2, but only once unlocked through Legend Mode progress. All characters have multiple Signature Moves, including some new additions, selectable via the D-Pad. Of course, most of them are only available to you in the secondary gameplay mode, the all new Dream Mode.

Offering a series of brand new stories featuring the characters from the original Fist of the North Star manga, the Dream Mode is a series of mini-campaigns that offer far more flexibility in terms of player decisions; both with their freedom of movement and the opportunity to experience other characters. With the level structure being comparable to modern Dynasty Warriors titles there are still very few surprises to be had, but the addition of a two-player co-operative mode (local and online) is welcome. The secondary online gameplay mode, Team Match, allows up to eight players to compete in small skirmishes while split into two teams with simple objectives such as racing to kill a specific amount of enemies. It’s hardly revolutionary, but remains an enjoyable, pastime in the short term.

The visual and aural design of Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 is questionable, with characters models that haven’t evolved much since the original and environments that actually appear less detailed. There is no English language voice acting and the occasional localisation issue in the subtitle translation, though there are many of Temco Koei Europe’s more vocal fans that publicly make note of their appreciation of the original Japanese voice track, perhaps excusing the publisher’s efforts to cut costs.

Hit-and-miss throughout it’s presentation, one has to winder exactly where the time between instalments has been spent. Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 is not be the shining light of hope for the future of the series that many may have been hoping for, but instead an amiable successor designed solely for the most ardent fans. With the Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage series blindly following the template of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, hopefully the third title will step things up a gear here just as it did in Omega Force’s earlier licensed series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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