Game Guys review - Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2

8:55 PM, Jul 24, 2013   |    comments
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  • 'Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2' from Tecmo KOEI.
  • 'Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2' from Tecmo KOEI.

Those of us old enough to remember watching anime in the 80's might remember a rather good yet violet series called 'Fist of the North Star'.  It was set in a gory post-apocalyptic world and is often refered to as one of the best animes of its time.  Fast forward to 2013 and its setting is still quite popular today, though the recent video game the anime inspired, Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2, is far inferior to its source material.

Much to the delight of the anime's fans, Ken's Rage 2 does its best to cover the entire series.  Players will follow Ken as he beats down upon a number of storyline critical baddies (and a whole heck of a lot of nameless minions) as he looks for revenge upon the person who gave him his trademark seven scars.

The story is largely presented in cutscenes and while it's good that KOEI focuses upon the story as much as they do, most of these breaks from the action go on way too long.  Furthermore, the game itself is much too lengthy for a brawler-style title - another folly of its overly ambitious yet faithful goal of staying true to the anime.

Gameplay is somewhat lacking in Ken's Rage 2.  A button masher in the spirit of KOEI's Dynasty Warriors games, this game is all about throwing punches and taking names - just without the taking names part.  At seemingly all times there are hordes of enemies swarming Ken, meaning he's (often) single-handedly taking then down groups at a time.  While it might be an entertaining stress reliever, it loses its charm quickly as attacks - even special ones - get old way before their time.

There is one thing worth noting as being at least slightly interesting.  Ken's Rage 2 has an alternate play mode called "Dream Mode".  It serves as a "what if?" sort of variation on the source material and is even more Dynasty Warriors-ish than the core game mode.  What's nice is that each playable character has his or her own fighting style, so it adds variety to a game that sorely needs it.  It's just too bad this mode isn't incorporated into the main game.

In terms of its audio/video presentation, this game simply isn't up to snuff to modern AAA-caliber video games.  Nay, it would hardly make it as a double-A title (were there such a thing).  Now, that's not to say that Ken's Rage 2 is an ugly game.  That would be quite far from the truth.  What it is, however, is a game that simply looks dated compared to other late-era games for this current generation.  Had it been released a couple of years earlier, this might not be such a big deal.  In 2013, however, it's worth pointing out.

Those who have an appreciation for this nearly thirty-year-old anime (it debuted in 1984) will find a certain appeal in KOEI's Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2.  Overall, it's a slight improvement over the first Ken's Rage game from 2010, but it's unnecessary length and stale gameplay mechanics do it no favors.  Unless you're looking for a good and violent crowd control simulator, you might want to look somewhere else.

12/25 17/25 19/25 16/25 22/25 70/100

Version tested: Xbox 360 (also available on PS3 & Wii U)

(Tecmo KOEI supplied a copy of this game for review.)

See how what our review scores mean and how the math adds up.


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