Friday, 6 October 2017

Hokuto no Ken 2: Seikimatsu Kyuseishu Densetsu (NES)

I wasn't aware of this when I started playing this game, but it did actually get localised and released in North America as Fist of the North Star, despite covering a part of the series that wouldn't get an official tranlation until many years later. But the JP version is the version I've played (since I picked up a real copy of it to play on my portable Famiclone), so that's what I'll be talking about. I haven't played the western version, but the reviews on GameFAQs all seem to be describing a completely different game to this one: one where the player has an infinitely regenerating health bar, and the first stage is an endless maze of secret rooms.

Anyway, it's a fairly standard single-plane beat em up in which you play as Kenshiro, and you go from left to right punching goons, until you get to a boss, who needs to be punched several times. A nice touch is that regular enemies and bosses alike will get a cool little death animation where they stand in place getting all warped and distorted for a second or two before shattering into many little pieces, just like in the show! It's a lot more effective than the deaths in the Mega Drive Hokuto no Ken game (also known in its mangled form as Last Battle), where the enemies just kind of fall backwards and turn into a little red splodge.

Anyway, once you figure out the little things like the power ups (tiny words float out of dead enemies. Collecting them increases your power, which mainly improves your movement and attack speed. Every twenty dead enemies fills up another meter bit-by-bit, and when you're at full power, your jacket explodes and you can toplessly shoot slightly useless projectiles) and the game's idiosyncratic collision detection (basically, only the tip of your fist/foot can hurt enemies, and only if it's touching the edge of their sprite), this is a pretty enjoyable game. Smashing enemies to bits is nice and satisfying, and all the bosses and sub-bosses have their own techniques and strategies. It's nothing special, but it's a fairly fun little romp.

What I like most about the game, though, is the way it looks. I've already mentioned the enemies' death animations, but Kenshiro himself has a very distinctive little sprite, the bosses all look unique, the backgrounds look like the gritty post-apocalyptic stone fortresses that they are, and so on. Anyway, it's by no means a classic, but it is a game that holds enough fun to justify the miniscule price it fetches online, and if you like super low resolution sprites and/or Hokuto no Ken, it's definitely worth a look.


  1. It's been very long since I've played this but I remember it being acceptable. The story abruptly jumps straight to the Nameless Asura fight at the end, doesn't it?

    1. yeah, i think that fight's meant to be like an extra bonus boss or something though?