Friday, 3 July 2015

Hokuto no Ken: Hokuto Shinken Denshousha no Michi (DS)

I'm sure anyone reading a blog like this will be familiar with Hokuto no Ken (also known as Fist of the North Star) from one place or another, and even if you aren't, you'll probably have played or watched or read something that was influenced by (or just straight up stole from) it. Even today, decades after the original comic finished, it still gets licenced videogames, cartoons and other stuff. This isn't even the only Hokuto no Ken game on the DS, though the other one is a Pachinko simulator, so it barely counts.

This one, however, is what could most simply be described as an interactive comic. If that brings up unpleasant images of tedious visual novels and the like, don't worry, it's nothing like that. Instead, you're shown panels from the original comic, and when a fight breaks out, you have to perform various touchscreen things to get through it. Since this is a Hokuto no Ken game, the most common thing the game wants you to do is hit the badguys' pressure points in quick succession, but there's also various other things, like carefully tracing lines or circles, to simulate blocking and countering attacks, as well as variations on pressure point-hitting, like hitting them in a certain order, or hitting a single point many times as quickly as possible.

In fact, as you progress through the game, there'll be chapters in which you plays as characters besides Kenshiro; namely, Rei and Raoh. Raoh, being a fellow Hokuto Shinken practioner, plays in much the same way as Kenshiro: hitting pressure points and making guys explode. Rei's Nanto Suichoken attacks are executed differently, though, with the player having to precisely slash across thin lines to cut enemies apart. I don't know if making Rei's stages significantly harder was the developers' intention, but it definitely came out that way.

Though it's a fun game, there are some negative points: the production values are very low, as not only is there no actual animation in-game, but there's also some stupid little errors, like how easy it is to accidentally start a new game on the title screen, which immediately deletes any progress you'd previously made. Also, when replaying stages, the game simply saves the most recent score you got on a stage, rather than always keeping the highest. There's also the fact that all the extras, like the character profiles and quiz mini-game are useless to the Japanese-illiterate, though it'd be unfair to blame the game for that, really.

If you're a big HnK fan, and you can pick this up cheaply (which you probably can), I definitely recommend giving it a try. It's a fun little game, and the colourised comic panels do look really great, too.

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