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Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage review

Decent
AT A GLANCE
  • Hugely faithful to the manga
  • Irresistibly gory
  • Boss battles get pretty cool
  • Dated engine
  • Slow paced combat
  • Appeals to a narrow niche

This article comes courtesy of GamesRadar sister magazine 

Fist of the North Star is a manga/anime series which, in the West, has niche appeal at best. We’d wager that if it wasn’t for the explode-o-heads, coils of wiggling intestines and spurting arteries, it’d be more like no appeal whatsoever. But this unremarkable scrapper romped to the summit of the Japanese charts last April, burying Western pretenders like God of War III. Might devs Omega Force (so long derided for hack-‘n’-slash efforts like Dynasty Warriors and Bladestorm) really pull off an almighty development coup?

Predictably, the answer is a big fat NO. Ken’s Rage is, in the main, a steaming pile of inscrutable silliness – but it’s also a marked departure from Koei’s Dynasty Warriors template and a genuinely laudable piece of fan service. For starters, the Legend mode makes a damn good stab at covering the epic events of the Hokuto saga – all the way from righteous Kenshiro’s fight with corpulent Mr. Heart through his sandy showdown with Souther and the testosterone-packed sausage fest with gargantuan bro-turned-evil despot Raoh. Along the way, millions die. Hideously. The combat is dated, flawed and impossibly slow paced initially – but somehow still satisfies. It’s probably because Ken grinds the legions of post-apocalyptic punk rockers who descend upon him into baddie chowder; you’ll guffaw/gag as their identikit bodies hemorrhage a hideous jagged jam this game calls blood before their wailing forms explode into so many blocky giblets. Boss battles are even better, especially when you lay down Ken’s patented ‘Ra-ta-ta-ta-ta!’ finishers and watch your foes turn to grisly mush.

Rack up skill points and the previously molasses-like combat finally begins to resonate, Ken’s pals begin to tag along on his adventure and our hero ducks and dives around arenas like his usual sprightly self. In another first for the Musou games, you can smack environments right up – hurling baddies into splintering concrete walls with bone-crushing force and driving them through sandbags and into spiked barriers. After mastering main man Kenshiro, you’re able to blast through the various other story arcs of numerous other characters from the Hokuto pantheon, like catty Rei, sexy Mamiya and heroic Toki. Although Ken’s Rage isn’t exactly a visual delight – at all, ever – this rates high on the homage-o-meter.

So, we end where we came in: if you’ve never seen, heard or given a flying Fudou about Fist of the North Star, you’re simply not going to get this – and even for Manga fans it’s very much a gorily-acquired taste. But at least, unlike fellow Omega Force tie-in Gundam Musou, it’s not complete crap – and for those of you who get the shivers whenever you catch sight of a steely-eyed, scarred wanderer who’s stepped right out of a homoerotic 80s soft metal music video, you might just want to stay... for a short while.

If you'd like to see more articles from Xbox World 360, you can get a subscription here.

Nov 3, 2010

More Info

Release date: Nov 02 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Nov 05 2010 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Koei
Developed by: Omega Force
ESRB Rating:
Mature
PEGI Rating:
18+

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10 comments

  • y2kpikachu12 - November 4, 2010 7:54 p.m.

    I agree with razor and pretty much everyone else on here. Plus, they're almost always for the games you have ads for, hmm...
  • ThatGamerDude - November 3, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    Why am I reading this and why am I commenting. WTF?!
  • TKTOWA - November 3, 2010 11:51 p.m.

    I've hit one of your hidden power-points. Your body is now under my control. You have 7 seconds to write a better review... but you're already dead(and your head will probably explode).
  • Yaro - November 3, 2010 9:25 p.m.

    I agree with zabu_san
  • ThatOneGuy - November 3, 2010 9:15 p.m.

    I really hate these stupid 'Xbox World' sister mag reviews..
  • TNK2 - November 3, 2010 8:38 p.m.

    @razorwiretensho I agree with u too. They should at least have a categories on the front page for sister reviews and official GR reviews that way ppl know what to avoid and what to go to.These sister reviews are just horrible and don't go into any details about the game whatsoever(probably because of limited page space i hope).
  • Amnesiac - November 3, 2010 8:31 p.m.

    Another short write-up from a sister publication? This review is already dead.
  • razorwiretensho - November 3, 2010 6:06 p.m.

    Gamesradar, I love you. And I understand that you have to post some things from you sister site. But they barley write a page long review, EVERYTIME... Which is not acceptable. It's gotten to the point where when I start reading a review and I see the logo from them, I just quit.
  • Curtis_Stone - November 3, 2010 5:53 p.m.

    ATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATAT
  • Manguy17 - November 3, 2010 5:48 p.m.

    if you could falcon punch in this game then it would get a 10

Showing 1-10 of 10 comments

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