Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2
Developer: Koei
Price: $60
Platform: PS3/Wii-U/Xbox 360
A Wii-U code of Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 was supplied to us

Tecmo Koei released the first Fist of the North Star game two years ago and it was met with some mixed reception. Koei returns to make a game that’s a sequel but only in name since this is basically the exact same game you might have played in 2010, just slightly expanded upon. Ken’s Rage 2 feels more like it should have been called Ken’s Rage 1.5 and it’s a damn shame.

I never got around to playing much of the first game and I’m not exactly an expert on the series other than knowing the main gist of certain things, but I do know that the story mode in this game is basically the same as in the first besides a few changes. First of all they go into a bit more detail in certain parts but not by much if my memory of the beginning of Ken’s Rage is correct.

The gameplay itself is something you’d expect in any Tecmo Koei game like Dynasty Warriors or Warrior’s Orochi, but without the flair and definitely not as fun. You’ll punch your way through hundreds of cloned goons with the only variety in enemies coming from mini-bosses and a costume change when you progress the game. You’ll go from fighting shirtless thugs to uniformed thugs and that’s the extent of enemy variety in this game. When I first started playing the game it was pretty fun seeing goons explode from my kicks and punches but eventually it just starts to tire on you. There’s a combo list but I’d hardly call a few moves a combo list. You’ve basically got a weak attack, a strong attack, and then you can press the strong attack once or twice then hitting the light attack. There’s also a grab and a signature move that’s unique for each character; Kenshiro makes people explode by thrusting his thumbs in their head and Jagi unleashes a torrent of bullets for example. The only sort of variety comes from the bits where you get to drive a motorcycle (it’s not fun and controls like molasses) and when you can play as different characters. You’d think it’d be a nice change in monotony to play as a different character but it’s not; everyone plays exactly the same with the only difference being the signature move. I really like the Dynasty Warriors games because they deliver mindless combat with flair which it does very well so I’m left confused as to how the same developer could have made this game.

As you slog your way through the unnecessarily long campaign you’ll level up the various stats of your characters. You’ll earn experience for each stat by killing an enemy with either a light attack, a strong attack, killing them while in a combo, killing while your aura is active, or killing them while your health is still in the green. As long as you mix up your combos with light and strong attacks you won’t have any trouble leveling all your stats evenly as you play. To help give your stats a little extra kick you can find and equip scrolls that will increase up to three stats at a time. You have five slots to place them in and aligning multiple scrolls in the same spot will give you a beefy bonus to that specific stat. Some scrolls even come with passive abilities like giving you more damage when using environmental objects like metal poles.

In an attempt to what I assume to be Koei’s way of spicing up the gameplay there is a ranking system in place to offer some sort of replay value to anyone into that sort of thing. You don’t get any reward for doing well in a certain segment other than self-gratification.

When you finally finish the story mode there’s Dream Mode there if you still somehow want to keep playing. This is the multiplayer component of Ken’s Rage 2 and if you enjoyed playing the game by yourself then the idea of playing it with another person should blow your mind. There’s local and online co-op to keep you satisfied but it’s basically the same game but now you’ve got a buddy to punch things with. Dream Mode does spice things up a bit with a sort of Dynasty Warriors style base capture mode where you have to capture all the enemy bases by fighting a certain amount of enemies in each base and then defeating a stronger enemy type to claim the base for your own army. Eventually a boss character will appear who you can defeat to instantly win the game.

The graphics look incredibly dated and the effects aren’t even that interesting to look at; when you’ve seen Kenshiro rapidly kick or punch a bunch of guys it starts to get old after the hundredth time. The game sports a fairly generic metal soundtrack that’s neither good nor insulting to listen to. Something I think might be a slight deciding point whether to get the game or not is that it’s completely voiced in Japanese with English subtitles. The text for everything is in English but I know there are some people out there who just don’t like playing a game that has the audio in a foreign language.

The Final Word
I really don’t get why this is being sold for $60 when it’s not only a digital only game, but it’s clearly a quickly made budget product. Anyone who’s already a fan of Fist of the North Star might be able to pull some enjoyment out of this but for anyone else looking for a new Koei brawler to satisfy their itch you’d probably have a better time with Warrior’s Orochi 3 Hyper or Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires.

- MonsterVine Rating: 2.5 out of 5 – Mediocre