Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

30 Jul

After the highs of Last of Us Part 2 and the mediocre middle of Horizon: Zero Dawn it’s no telling what game I would want to play next. 2020 has been an awful year. As all of American’s are locked down from the COVID-19, and Virginia starts to think about reopening, the thought of going out to Barnes and Noble, even to clear my head, is depressing enough. Sitting there with my mask on, it was hard to drink from my water bottle, and it didn’t result in me staying long or thinking about buying anything yet. But maybe to cheer me up, I bought Fist of the Northstar (2018) and it seemed like a fun bet. Any manga adaptation that has English voice actors over the anime characters is a win for me, and I just need something fun and escapist that comes with an anime with big men who walk across a post apocalyptic wasteland, and it can be fucking ridiculous at the same time. 

            For those who aren’t aware of Fist of the Northstar, it was a manga in the 80’s that cropped up around the time Berserk and Guin Saga were making there way into the manga fans hands in the nipponese brothers who would eat it up for four decades. Written by Buronson, the history surrounding it is often times never misconstrued the story, and it’s like eating raw meat, slamming away, button mashing, but it’s not the danger you feel for the main character, Kenshiro, who is a solemn warrior in the heights of an 80’s lifestyle in a post apocalyptic wasteland. Being the strongest means that death is failure, and puts you in the headspace of the character, Ken.

            Kenshiro is seeking his lover, Yuria, which was captured by Shin, after he stuck his fingers into his body, scarring him, and as he journeys through the wasteland, meeting people that he has to fight in order to find Yuria. The fighting is fabulous, and if you wanted your fun factor raised, it achieves that, but when it tries to exemplify the world it has, the voice actors aren’t there to help sell the world in every cut scene. It’s a shame to not have this, because Ken and the post apocalyptic world deserved more than being undersold. Kenshiro has to fight his way out of prison, as he has to find Yuria, as he is pitted against enemies who are lied to, at the same time, making it feel like an anime put into the force of a video game. 

The writing is ridiculous and fun, and over the top (if it weren’t in a game such as Fist of the Northstar, it would be out of place), and put you in the shoes of Kenshiro. Unlike the Berserk video game that doesn’t seem to know when it should just be about battles or story and world of Berserk, Fist of the North Star has the ability to get it right and achieve it’s results. The story is laid out over 10 chapters, and each are meant to force the player into situations that have fights that the player can control. You can’t leave the fights, and each fight is a test of all the abilities learned in the game, making you progress along as Kenshiro is. You also get to bar tend which is a cool feature, but again, the lack of voice actors in a video game is a crippling function in a video game. A book is meant to be read and you can hear the voices you want, but a video game, even in the in game cut scenes, that aren’t fed through texts, makes it frustrating to play. 

As an anime and manga reader, this is already hitting the buttons I need to play this game, but the lack of voices in certain scenes, is the problem when resulting in the Fist of the North Star: Paradise Lost. Some won’t mind this idea, but this is a game that prides itself on a story and most are just as complicit in not providing voice to all parts of the game. Helping ordinary people also helps unlock all the stars of Destiny, which can help you be as powerful. Good choices are rewarded in the world of North Star, as even you’re met with pacifists that want you to not use violence, but that’s all Kenshiro knows when met with another opposing force. 

            You have to learn new moves to battle your way through the game, as the player has to become the character, and not taking control of the game. It’s a scripted game, but the world is interesting and never seems dull. Maybe I’m a bit of a manga anime person, but it does give that anime manga person the grandeur and mystery and downright fun it needs to be. Even smacking enemies with metal planks as a form of sport is fun as well. 

            The world and the writing is there, and it’s a shame the actors weren’t paid to voice the in game cut scenes, as they only had enough to voice the main cut scenes with the major plot points. Having grunts represent a character’s opinion with scrolling text is big with these types of games, but it’s frustrating and brings me out of the world. This is when the game runs into problems.

            But what makes this game an embarrassment is simple: the production company, Ryu Ga Gotoku studios, has embarrassed a franchise that should have been so entertaining and provocative and pleasurable, into a game that turned a thousand hand slap into a game I couldn’t even finish. While the combat and the story is enticing, I can’t honestly give this game a score because the game doesn’t deserve a score. If I were the writer of the manga’s I would wipe this away from my legacy and call it a day. This is what gaming shouldn’t be. While the fighting is fun for about five chapters, the lack of good in game cutscene and the lack of innovation is what I call an incomplete game for a great series. The story is great, but what the series deserved was something better.

            Final Score: 2/10 and a total waste of your time. Go read the manga if you can find them. Go do something better than play this game. 

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