Anime fans acquainted with the 1980s know that the decade spawned some wonderfully gory, testosterone-driven experiences. Chief among the field of Anime for Dudes stands Fist of the North Star, the story of a man who can unleash a barrage of punches after he utters the mystical incantation A-TA- TA- TA- TA- TA- TA- TA- TA- TA- TA- TA (sometimes he makes bad people explode, too.) Tecmo Koei, sick of mining the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms for their hack’n’slash fantasies, intends to release a game version of the Fist later this year.
And honestly, it’s not a terrible idea. The main premise behind the anime is that the main character, Ken, is a hulking badass with a heart of gold that won’t hesitate to beat the absolute sh*t out of the mutated evildoers that haunt his post-apocalyptic wasteland. [I think there’s something in there about an ongoing quest to save his ladyfriend… but that’s not really manly so we’ll forget about it for now.] I don’t think there’s ever been a better justification for a game adaptation. It’s even one of the few times I can stomach using the tired Dynasty Warriors formula of gameplay, which consists of “beat guys up, run around, beat guys up, open gate, beat REALLY BIG guy up. Repeat level for cool wares.”
The game certainly adapts the source material’s wonderfully, as Ken casually whoops ass from town to town. Ridiculously powerful moves are accompanied by equally ridiculous title cards as a mysterious narrator calmly states the name of the arcane technique just used to flatten a legion of cannon fodder. You get the requisite super-power bar that fills up as you kill more folks, but I couldn't see much (if any) type of levelling system or power unlocks. Hopefully there's something like that that wasn't shown in the demo. There’s even some nice end-boss superpunch action under the guise of a quicktime event. I felt that Ken’s a bit lead-footed, and tends to lumber about as he’s stomping people to and fro, but a mercifully included quick evade button takes most of the sting out of his slow movement.
I can’t really say if it’s a viable purchase option yet, but it’s definitely a good stress reliever after a long day at the office. Just don’t expect Shakespeare.