Review a Bad Game Day: Fist of the North Star
A quick glance at Twitter indicates that August 8 was Review a Bad Game Day, and without a doubt, “Fist of the North Star: 10 Big Brawls for the King of the Universe” needs to be included in the ever growing list of games that should never be played by anyone.
“Fist of the North Star” was a great manga series. Even the animated version was worth watching. However, its 1990 Game Boy adaptation is probably the most frustrating thing any two thumbs have ever experienced.
The player takes control of the main character, Kenshiro, or one of the ten baddies from the series: Heart, Shin, Jagi, Uighur, Souther, Raoh, Falco, Han, Hyou and Kaioh. Don’t know who any of these names are? That’s fine, even fans of the manga wouldn’t be able to tell one character sprite from another.
The object of the game is simple enough: pick a fighter, then savagely beat your way through the other ten. And by savagely, I mean mash the same button over and over. Winning fights causes your character to level up (until you turn the game off, since there is no save function) and over time you can input codes to skip levels.
It may not sound so bad, but this isn’t Mortal Kombat or Tekken. All characters punch the exact same way, some jump and kick and most have disappointingly similar special moves (executed by simply holding down the A-button). Two non-jumping characters can attack via sliding across the screen like they’re on roller blades, made unintentionally funny by the fact that they look to weigh over 300 lbs.
The music clashed with the monotonous percussion that occurred anytime anyone hit anything. Fist to face? Percussion. Leg to shin? Percussion. Special-attack to torso? Percussion. This was almost as bad the background images, which had little to no depth, although they looked better than the character sprites hopping around like characters from a Kabuki theater.
Most people would chalk these issues up to the fact that the game was a low-quality rush job meant for fans only. Yet those who actually liked Fist of the North Star have the most reason to loath this waste of plastic and metal.
In the Fist of the North Star series, Kenshiro fought enemies via secret pressure points in the human body, which usually resulted in explosive decapitation. The intricately detailed internal hemorrhages at the end of fight scenes were in fact the best part of the series.
Now, imagine you’ve seen quality hand-drawn gratuitous violence, and come across a video game version of said gratuity. But instead of Saving Private Ryan meets Street Fighter, you get cookie cutter characters, mediocre gameplay, no blood and absolutely no gore.
The game was so repetitive and unoriginal, it made my Game Boy feel like one of those cheaply manufactured low-tech handheld gadgets sold at dollar stores. By all means, find a nice copy of Fist of the North Star in manga form, but under no circumstances attempt to locate or play this horrible excuse for electronic entertainment.