Can I offer you some more Yakuza in these trying times?
So Fist of The North Star was a manga series from the 1980’s, starring a Jet-Li knock-off named Kenshiro, the successor to a pressure-point-centered martial art called Hokuto Shinken, who drifts through the nuclear post-apocalyptic world using his skills to literally explode an endless series of villains on a quest to find his kidnapped fiancée. If you remember that meme where a buff man went “Omae wa mou shindeiru” (You are already dead) to a man who says “NANI?!” (What?!) before exploding, that’s Fist of The North Star. Someone at Sega had the idea to combine this license with their Yakuza franchise, slotting Kenshiro’s wacky world into the broader formula of Kazuma Kiryu’s adventures, and then casting Kiryu’s voice actor as Kenshiro for good measure. The end result, stacked against the other games in the franchise, while a fun ride in its own right, winds up being the worst Yakuza game on the PS4.
The real problems, however, start with the engine being used for this game, which is the same one used in Yakuza 0 and Kiwami. That in and of itself isn’t a flaw, because those games used a preponderance of excellent cutscenes and awesome special moves to punch above their weight, but Lost Paradise is distinctly lacking in both. The ones they do have still look amazing, but you’re going to go through the whole game doing the same Hundred Fist Rush over and over again. What’s more, the visual style mandated by the license seems to have been taken as license to skimp on detail work in many places. The wasteland map you can drive around in outside the main city is almost inexcusable in a $60 release. It looks and plays far worse than Jak 3 on the PS2, 14 years ago.
The gameplay left untouched by that driving is very straightforward and helps pick up the slack. Instead of Kazuma Kiryu’s street brawling, we get Kenshiro’s very controlled and deliberate martial arts, topped off with a drizzle of Hokuto Shinken special moves. All this happens in another incredibly compact city map loaded with mini games and absurd side quests. One particular highlight is a bartending mini game, where Ken will make cocktails with the same intensity he explodes heads with.
In the story, we enter an alternate continuity to the manga, starting at Kenshiro’s rematch against Shin, the man who left him for dead after kidnapping his fiancée, Yuria. After defeating Shin, however, Yuria is nowhere to be found, and Ken follows her trail to the city of Eden. There, he hopes to finally reunite with her as Eden falls under threat of conquest. While the main plot is very engaging, the game can’t help but lag in the middle, as three Fist of The North Star villains, who have naught to do with the plot other than fan-service, attack Eden one after the other. While Goro Majima as Jagi is a fun time for example, the chapter dedicated to him is literally just padding the runtime, just like the chapters dedicated to Thouzer and Raoh. The ending, a Yakuza-standard explosion of twists, double-crosses and climatic boss fights, ends the story on a high note.
In the end, I recommend waiting until Fist of The North Star: Lost Paradise is $20 or less. For all that’s good about the game, it just isn’t fit to compete at the $60 price point it released at.
Logan Graham is a senior studying media arts with a focus in games and animation at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Let Logan know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.