One of the issues with manga/anime games is finding a way to make them satisfying for everyone. Dynasty Warriors Gundam did a good job of highlighting what made Gundam great, while also adding in a lot of fan service. Jump Ultimate Stars and the upcoming Jump Force try to bring unlikely heroes and beloved characters together in a setting that makes sense. This has worked a couple times, though Fist of the North Starhas always been something of an issue. Many of the characters are too powerful and despite a solid idea with Dynasty Warriors, it never translated that well. So, naturally, when Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise was announced, there was some fear. The Yakuza team is certainly capable of telling a good story and doing Kenshiro justice, but is it an adventure fans need to experience or is it just a weird game that uses Fist of the North Star as a hook?
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise takes the core story from the beginning of the series and simply adds a new detour. Kenshiro still needs to find Yuria, following her possible suicide to escape Shin, which leads him to the mysterious city of Eden. From there, the story plays out like one from the actual manga.
Kenshiro realizes these people need his help, decides to step in and slaughters the bad people to make things right. Even if the story itself is new, complete with new characters, settings and problems, the set pieces are the same. Between the new powers, larger than life villains, random acts of kindness, it’s a story that leads to a logical conclusion while remaining true to Kenshiro’s singular vision of reclaiming Yuria.
Even if the story shares a lot of similarities with the source material, it makes sense the Yakuza team would take on Fist of the North Star. Even if the far less popular prequel, Fist of the Blue Sky, makes more sense, Kenshrio shares a lot of similarities to Kiyru. It makes the been there, seen that, feeling more familiar than objectionable. They already know what this character is like and has no problem bringing the ridiculous world of Fist of the North Star to this setting. That being said, that doesn’t stop there from being some rough patches.
Since Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is structured like a Yakuza game, Kenshiro will fight various forms of punks. While these characters don’t offer much of a challenge, it’s a simpler take on the existing combat system. Kenshiro approaches every situation with a small handful of combos that can be used to defeat foes. It doesn’t matter if you punch or kick, just be prepared to dodge and block when applicable. In addition to standard moves, Kenshiro has the ability to use Hokuto Shinken to finish off foes. These are flashy finishing moves, complete with a quick time events, which does extreme damage and typically kills an enemy. At first they can be a lot of fun, but between the limited number and amount of time needed, something that makes sense given the source, quickly becomes a tedious mechanic you can choose to use or ignore.
Outside of combat the adventure is similar to what you’d find in Yakuza. Kenshiro can play mini-games, mostly of a gambling or adult variety, provide aid to the people of Eden, take on thugs and explore. Sadly, it takes some time to really open up options, meaning the first couple of hours is more about going from waypoint to waypoint to progress the story. This can be a little underwhelming, though it can also be a treat for fans.
Part of the fun isn’t seeing where the story is going, as much as seeing how beloved characters are implemented. Shin dies the same way he does at the start of the manga, leaving characters like Toki to be discovered. There are also flashbacks that include characters like Bat, so even if it doesn’t feel like a new adventure, there is something for fans.
Even if it sounds like I’m against Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, it’s actually a solid game. It might have the same feel as the original story, but manages to retain the charm that made the original series great. While combat isn’t the best, defeating foes in an excessively violent way can be a lot of fun, ignoring the fact you might see the same finisher 10 times in an hour. Toss in some new characters, plenty to do and some of the same of the Yakuza series and you have an adventure that will probably delight fans of either.
[Editor’s Note: Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]