- Game: Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
- Console: PS4 (reviewed)
- Publisher: Sega
- Developers: Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, Amusement Vision
A Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise review code was provided by the publisher.
It’s always nice to see anime’s from the past get a fresh paint job in other forms of media. It’s especially cool to witness classic manga’s get the full-fledged action/adventure game treatment. Sega has done just that by releasing an experience that focuses on the post-apocalyptic journey of Kenshiro. For those not in the know, Ken is the main protagonist of one of the more legendary anime’s of all time, Fist of the North Star. Instead of relying on the Musou stylings of Koei Tecmo and Omega Force’s Ken’s Rage titles, the development studio behind the Yakuza series has mashed its IP’s mechanics together with a new original tale for Kenshiro. This sensible mashup ends up delivering an enjoyable trek through the wastelands that Yakuza and Fist of the North Star fans will enjoy.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise does things a bit differently than your usual licensed anime games. Instead of throwing fans into a basic retelling of the entire series’ plot, it delivers a whole new story, characters, and locales to interact with. This is a welcome change – presenting the overall story in this manner keeps hardcore fans intrigued as they encounter new allies to befriend and new foes to overcome. The fan service is still prevalent, thankfully. You’ll no doubt run into familiar faces along the way and come across some surprising Easter Egg’s as you seek out the whereabouts of Kenshiro’s lost love. Things may start out slow and feel like an overly long tutorial at first, but once it truly gets going it’s hard to step away.
The main hub that Kenshiro inhabits is an all-new setting called Eden. Like the streets of Yakuza’s Kamurocho, it’s packed with activity and even livelier in the evening time. While not as exciting as Yakuza’s more modern locale, Eden still features a ton of main objectives and side stories to complete. Eden plays host to gambling, citizen healing, bartending, club managing, colosseum battles, and even the chance to play retro games.
Outside of this post-apocalyptic haven lies the barren Wasteland, a vast desert that plays host to the incredibly addictive “Death Batting” minigame. However, that aforementioned side activity is really the only interesting part about the Wasteland. Exploring this other locale is a tedious and downright boring affair due to the finicky feel of buggy driving and subpar presentation of the entire area. The act of driving in open world games has gotten so much better since the days of shoddy vehicle operation sequences in Shenmue and Grand Theft Auto 4. You’d be forgiven for skipping out on the shallow, slippery races of Lost Paradise altogether.
When it comes to combat, Lost Paradise mostly hits a high mark. Kenshiro is a martial arts maven who has no need for weapons during his encounters with ruffians. He chooses to dish out his brand of punishment to anyone that crosses him with his devastating “Hokuto Shinken” style. Getting the chance to pull of Kenshiro’s signature combos and cinematic finishing moves is a joy. The added blood spilling and gore that accompanies each battle put it a slight step above Yakuza’s equally intense yet less gory battle encounters.
Over the course of the game, you’ll be able to greatly expand Kenshiro’s moveset with a wide range of upgrades. Landing “Perfect Channeling” maneuvers, activating Burst Mode, and tapping into the abilities granted by Talismans makes Lost Paradise’s combat one of its best attributes. The boss fights and epic quick-time events that accompany them are some of the better parts of this title. After a while however, stunning your opponent and pulling off Kenshiro’s more cinematic moves gets old really fast. You’ll much prefer taking out weaker foes with basic combos instead of going for special moves once you’re settled in to the game’s fight mechanics.
The comparisons made to Yakuza within Lost Paradise are easy to see – Kenshiro is a badass hero just like Kazuma Kiryu, there’s a nice collection of fun and silly minigames to play, side missions are in abundance, and the battles that erupt during Kenshiro’s adventure feature similar controls and mechanics. Lost Paradise doesn’t fully replicate everything that works within the Yakuza franchise, however – there’s less minigames, plus Kenshiro doesn’t have access to a multitude of combat styles like the ones seen in Yakuza 0. Even still, Lost Paradise does a fine job of giving Fist of the North Star fans a quality experience worth celebrating.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise Takeways
There’s finally a good Fist of the North Star game available within the States thanks to Sega and the brains behind its successful Yakuza IP. Lost Paradise offers a fan-friendly foray into the open-world of a classic anime and lets players fight the good fight as the powerful Kenshiro. A fresh plot, familiar characters and moments, wild minigames, and an interesting hub locale to explore makes Lost Paradise a standout experience.
A few negatives keep it from being just as great as the series it’s based on, though. The driving feels a bit off, the Wasteland is a chore to explore, and certain features related to the combat system grow repetitive. Beating down hapless thugs and other menacing martial artists is still quite enjoyable, though. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise works well as a love letter to the manga/anime and Yakuza games that inspired it.