Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is a video game adaptation of the popular anime series Fist Of The North Star. The game is focused on martial arts expert Kenshiro who practices Hokuto Shinken, a form of martial arts. He dedicates his entire life to protecting the weak and innocent. His main goal is to find his missing fiancé Yuria after she has been kidnapped. He learns that she is in Eden, the safest place in the entire post apocalyptic earth.
Kenshiro is a very likable character his kindness and eagerness to help others is a notable aspect of his character. He has respect for his fellow martial arts opponents he faces but he has no sympathy for the bandits and other lowlifes who harm the innocent. He refuses to give his name to them and he sees himself as a cleaner taking out the trash. He really never gives up on his quest to save Yuria. He earns the trust of many characters because of his conduct. While Kenshiro is mostly stoic, he can be very expressive.
The video game story is faithful to the original Fist of the North Star. Many of the characters from the anime appear in the game along with some new ones. It is also very accessible to those who had not yet watched the anime or read the Fist of the North Star series. A couple famous Yakuza characters appear in small cameos in certain parts outside of the main story. The game never takes itself too seriously and there is a lot of black comedy and light hearted humor.
The graphics in the game does a great job replicating the anime and manga. It uses the same engine run on Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami. Combat in the game uses the Yakuza formula but revised to make it more like Fist of the North Star anime. Fights in the game are now mostly fatal.
Similar to Yakuza Kiwami, you earn points to level up Kenshiro and use the points to unlock new abilities and moves. Each point is related to a different aspect of combat such as soul points being for increasing health and damage. The game has its own version of extreme heat mode called burst mode, where after you fill the seven star gauge during combat, for a period of time you can inflict double damage and increased defense
Talismans are another feature where you can create various different talisman that gives you bonusses in combat. A Yuria Talisman enables Kenshiro to go into burst mode. You can create and refine many different talisman once you have the right materials.
Similar to other Yakuza games, you can buy and equip many accessories and clothing articles. Each has its own bonuses and disadvantages. The game’s economy is not as large as other games because of the sparse apocalyptic setting but there are still abundant items to purchase and use. You can work for merchants delivering goods in exchange for money.
The game is very bloody and over the top with its violence. Enemies more often than not, usually die exploding with blood splattered all over the place. You are able to adjust the level, but for hardcore fans of the series, you would want to leave it on to experience the full brutality of the game. You are even able to disarm weapons like flamethrowers and use it against the enemies.
Death screams are objects which you earn from perfect channeling that you can use to cause massive amounts of damage to enemies. Sometimes colored smoke like green smoke is for health and blue smoke for filling up your gauge. “Hidebu” a Japanese term for “It Hurts” is just one example. Perfect channeling is where you have to grab an enemy at a certain time in order to instantly kill them. Heat actions are reworked into performing Hokuto moves where you have to grab the enemy at the right time, and pressing the circle button when they are stunned.
Qtes are another important part of the game, they are pretty simple to perform and many of the moves from the anime appear in this game. Hokuto Hundred Fist Rush and Hokuuto Fist Of Penitence are two examples of the moves. You can take off QTEs but this reduces the damage you inflict on enemies. It is best to take the time to learn how to perform various moves of Hokuto Shinken as this will enhance your combat abilities. In addition, you are even able to level up to 3 stars for each Hokouto Shinten move and to become more powerful the more you use it. One of the game’s characters Toki helps you learn new moves once you unlock a new ability.
There are many types of enemies but there is not much variation amongst them. The combat in the game is great fun and easy to learn even if the player is new to the Yakuza games. You can learn a variety of secret techniques of Hokuto Shinken during combat that will give you the advantage during combat by preforming certain actions or combos. After you win a fight, you are graded from S to D and the game encourages you to do well and use many special moves in combat so you can be rewarded with items like money and treasure maps.
The game utilizes all of the functions of the dual shock 4 controller in a unique way. In bartending you have to use the motion detection in the dual shock 4 controls to serve different kinds of drinks to patrons. Having to use all of the functions of the control was quite satifying. In the bartending game, you have to listen to patrons’ personal problems and help them solve it through their own substories. Befriending them will give you new items and discounts at their shops which is pretty useful.
Boss fights are extremely tough and deadly with each scenario being very over the top and creative. Jagis boss fight in the first part takes place in first person view. You have to counter his attacks whenever he strikes as he has bombs exploding. Kenshiro cannot move around during Jagis attacks or else bombs will explode.
The art direction an accurate recreation of the original works. The world of earth is dirty and gritty and nobody is really safe. Resources are rare and whatever is available is very expensive. The world in the game is enormous. Outside of Eden, you can visit other smaller villages and refuel at convenient gas stops. You can even fast travel from location to location once you discover a new area. You can ride a buggy across the wasteland and collect scattered parts in order to customize your buggy. Each vehicle item gives you different benefits from increased speed and damage resistance. You can take part in races with your buggy and win many different prizes like new car parts or materials for it. Driving takes some time to get used to as it can feel clumsy and awkward but with the right parts it can be a bit easier.
Enemies are also going to be after you randomly at times hitting you off course and you have to fight them off. Substories also make an appearance and there is a lot of them in the game. They focus on Kenshiro being put in a variety of bizarre and dangerous situations where he helps people in exchange for rewards. One sub story did not really make any sense as it centered around a group of pacifists protesting against Kenshiro for his methods and blaming him for all of the string of violence happening in Eden. The leader of the group gets mugged and punched and he tells Kenshiro to “express how this makes him feel” in order to defuse the situation. The leader tells Kenshiro that there are no bad people, only bad choices even though the villains in the game are all evil, bloodthirsty and extremely dangerous. The criminals are all irredeemable and psychotic and talking things out is never going to work with them. After Kenshiro kills the mugger in bloody fashion, the pacifists begged him to stop him using his martial arts skills and even kept harassing him in other substories. This obviously does not fit in the overall theme of this violent game. It could be removed entirely and the game still would have been fun.
At any time, you can choose between English or Japanese audio. The Japanese version has the Yakuza cast playing as the Fist Of The North Star’s characters. Kazuma Kiryu voiced Kenshiro and Goro Majima played one of the antagonists Jagi. The voice actors did a really good job in replicating the original anime voice actors. A lot of the animes’ sound and special effects also appear in the game during combat such as the famous “ATATA” during the Hundred Fist Rush and it is entertaining hearing and seeing the enemies blow up and die in bizarre and unusual ways.
The game has a multitude of mini games with a mix of original for this and revised versions of previous minigames from the Yakuza series. Hostess club plays mostly the same like in Yakuza 0 with matching the right customers you are given to the appropriate hostess. While you can try and calm rowdy customer, you can kill customers who cross the line by either sexually harassing and insulting the girls.
Baseball is where you have to knock enemies off their motorcycles as far as possible and if you get all homeruns, it forms a big dipper in the shape of Kenshiro’s trade mark scars. The higher the score the better the prize.
Kenshiro can work as a doctor in a rhythm style game where you have to press the buttons at the right time in order to treat patients and also fend off bandits trying to steal from the clinic
You unlock different song tracks as you progress through the mini game. Bounty hunting is where you have to kill assigned targets for the Eden watch in exchange for money. You travel all across the wasteland taking out criminals wanted for many different crimes. It also has its own overarching side story where you have to hunt down a deranged serial killer “The Ripper”. At the end of the story, you already know who it is and its anti-climatic. It is still satisfying hunting down these criminals and finding out the mystery on how they are all connected.
There is a lot of extra content to unlock in the game to encourage replay value such as many different outfits Kenshiro could wear. You can unlock a new difficulty level, extra hard after beating the game the first time like in the other Yakuza games.
The music is fast paced and energetic as in the Yakuza games. Some of the songs of the Yakuza games along with other SEGA games like Super Monkey Ball appear and you can listen to them on the radio in your buggy.
The pattern of flaws of the Yakuza series is quite prevalent in the game. Sometimes the subtitles do not match the spoken voice dialogue. Like many JRPG and Yakuza games, the story gets sidetracked frequently with you having to perform mundane tasks and go back and forth from place to place just to complete a single objective. It is mandatory that you have to fight enemies even if you do not want to fight them. Manual saving is back and once again you are going to have to remember to save or else it won’t appear the next time you play and this is a very outdated feature. Like in Yakuza Kiwami and in Yakuza 0, the game has some poor quality textures. The environment, besides having items to gather, villages to visit and gas stations, does not have much else to show and feels empty. However, the game does its best to make do with the world design it has.
For a spin-off of the Yakuza series and as a video game adaptation of a widely beloved anime, Fist of The North Star: Lost Paradise does a solid job and is engaging and satisfying. It is going to get 4 stars out of 5.
Fist of The north star and Yakuza fans are going to be in for something that will appeal to both sides. Playing this game shows that it is possible for anime series like Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure and Cowboy Bebop could be adapted to work as fun video games.