Fist of the North Star is a legendary anime and manga that began all the way back in 1983. The franchise has since inspired countless action anime series over the years, and while there’s been a good few video game adaptions, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is on another level entirely. Lost Paradise is developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the studio behind Yakuza, and as it turns out their formula is an absolutely perfect fit for Fist of the North Star. During E3 2018, Twinfinite got some hands-on time with Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, and it’s an absurd, violent, and over-the-top experience that effectively blends the spirit of the anime together with the charming quirkiness of Yakuza.
Our demo was split into two different segments, a focus on the battle system and then a section from the story, including minigames. When I jumped into combat, I was amazed at how similar things felt to Yakuza, but there are still a few key differences. Ken uses the same basic buttons to attack, with square doing a light attack and triangle doing a heavier kick. On the D-pad, you have abilities known as “Destiny Talismans” that let you use a variety of skills. One gave Ken a flamethrower, which I used to incinerate nearby enemies, another let him hit the ground for a massive blast that knocked enemies around him aside. My favorite, however, had Ken moving from enemy to enemy in the blink of an eye, killing three of them in one hit each. These talismans are on a cooldown, so you can’t just spam them repeatedly, but it does make you feel like an unstoppable badass.
Once enemies have been staggered you can press the circle button to enact one of Ken’s trademark moves, making enemies’ body parts and heads explode into a shower of blood. Again, it feels very much like Yakuza, but the subtle difference do set it apart and make everything feel much more visceral. I played a Medium difficulty battle in my demo, but I was able to just rip through enemies, feeling like the incredible anime hero that Ken is. Of course, there’s also plenty of screaming and “wataaaahs!” that happen in the process.
Of course, when you’re not battling you’ll be exploring the city in Lost Paradise, or heading out into the wasteland to search for resources. On the story side I played a substory, similarly to Yakuza’s substory, that had me helping a young boy tracking down parts to rebuild a car, so I could take it out into the desert. It was a short enough story, but the writing was quite good, and I was honestly surprised by the quality of the English voice acting.
Exploring the city feels very similar to Yakuza, with a similar minimap and even crowds of punks to drop. The city itself buzzes with the activity of citizens going about their day-to-day, and there’s plenty of shops, restaurants, and locations to explore. After collecting the parts I was able to take the car out for a spin, and entered a high-speed race that let me win money and Destiny Points, although I’m not quite sure what the latter is used for right now.
Finally, I backed out to the menu to try a couple minigames, and this is by far where I had the most fun. The first had Ken stepping up to bat with a giant metal girder on a field. Punks drove toward him on motorcycles and my goal was to time hitting them just right to get the best distance hit as I slammed them off of their motorcycles. The second minigame had Ken tending a bar and making drinks for guests. Three orders came in, one requiring me to hit buttons in succession, another forcing me to shake the controller up and down like a martini shaker, and the third spinning the stick around to stir a drink. All of these motions were accompanied by some ridiculously dramatic animations, and one time Ken even spouted off a great one-liner when serving the drink saying “You’re already drunk.” Surely any Fist of the North Star fans will get the joke.
Every second I played of the Lost Paradise was an absolute blast, and I constantly found myself chuckling at the absurdity of both the combat and story moments. The game has a gorgeous art style that makes it look just like its manga and anime counterparts, and combat feels fast and fluid. Fist of the North Star fans are getting what could be the very best game ever made for the franchise, and its style and systems appeal directly to those invested in the Yakuza games. This truly is the perfect fusion of two famous franchises.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise launches Oct. 2, 2018.