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Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (Wii U) Review

Review for Fist of the North Star: Ken

Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 is the sequel to Tecmo Koei's beat-'em-up, Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage and is based on the popular Japanese Manga known as Fist of the North Star. Cubed3 dives into the universe to see if this game is worthy of its title.

In Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 players take control of series' main protagonist, Kenshiro and various other characters within the Fist of the North Star universe and must fight their way through large hordes of enemies in order to progress further into the story. The gameplay is very similar to Omega Force's Dynasty Warriors series -- but rather than fighting in large, open maps, players are restricted to fight in areas that are considerably smaller, which leads to an incredibly repetitive gameplay experience.

There are two modes available in Ken's Rage 2, Legend Mode and Dream Mode. Legend Mode is made up of a streamlined campaign in which players take control of the various playable characters and are presented with cut-scenes set out like a comic book, accompanied by stellar Japanese voice acting and English subtitles to boot. The narrative and story works really well, and Koei has done a fantastic job of retelling the original story of the Manga but the area of games that matters the most is gameplay, something that is dull and repetitive in the Legend Mode of Ken's Rage 2.

Chapters usually play out in a similar formula, where players fight a group of enemies, move on to the next small area and do the same, then occasionally fight mini-bosses before fighting the actual boss of that stage.

Screenshot for Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Thankfully, Dream Mode is a little more enjoyable due to it being closer to the Dynasty Warriors formula, with larger environments to roam and enemies popping up more frequently. In a similar fashion, it offers a more tactical gameplay experience, where players must take control of bases in order to achieve victory.

Upon entering a base, players will be presented with the number of enemies they must kill in order to take control of that base. There's also an optional bonus objective they can complete if they want to obtain the highest rank for that area; these objectives can be anything from defeating the enemies in a certain amount of time to defeating enemies with a combo greater than 50.

Dream Mode also has support for local and online co-operative play and also has a four-player team-play mode available for online. Unfortunately, players won't ever be able to find people playing, unless they organise a play session with a friend or use Miiverse to try and find another player. Local co-operative can either be played split-screen or dual screen, where one person has the Wii U GamePad and the other player uses the Classic Controller Pro or Wii U Pro Controller.

Unfortunately, both of these game modes suffer from frame-rate issues when in the heat of battle and it feels like playing in slow motion until the battle is over, when it returns to a smooth and steady frame-rate.

Screenshot for Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

As players progress through Legend Mode, new Signature Moves will be unlocked for the main protagonist, Kenshiro. Signature Moves are devastating combos that can be activated by pressing the A button and cycled through by using the left and right buttons on the D-Pad. They are a great way for players to build up a high combo and achieve higher ranks for each chapter/area. Each time a Signature Move is used, it will use up a certain number of Aura Reserve. When the Aura Gauge has been fully depleted, players must regain their Aura Reserves by killing enemies with regular attacks.

The only ways to increase a character's overall stats is by using Scrolls or levelling-up their individual skills. There are five different skills that each character possesses, these are; Life, Aura, Attack, Defense and Technique. Depending on the play style of the player, each of these skills will be increased at a different rate, due to each skill requiring a specific method to increase the level.

Scrolls can be obtained in a number of different ways from obtaining them in the battlefield, to receiving them at the end of a battle, depending on your rating. These Scrolls can be equipped at the Caryatid, a statue that acts as the game's save point. It is possible to equip a maximum of five scrolls, and each statistic displayed on the scroll will increase by the level of the Scroll. For instance, if the character had a Level 1 Scroll with the Life and Aura skills equipped, they would gain one level for each of those stats. It is also possible to equip multiple scrolls with the same stat displayed on it, in a downwards pattern, therefore creating a nexus. When a nexus is achieved, special Nexus Skills can be activated, to make characters even more deadly.

Screenshot for Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

As well as the frame-rate issues, the character models and textures look rough around the edges and much like Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper everything looks better on the GamePad's screen, which unfortunately has been used to a minimum here, with everything from the TV placed on the GamePad. Koei should have at least put a map on the second screen, or perhaps show the stats of the character and have virtual touch buttons to use different Signature Moves without having to cycle through them. Sadly, the use of the GamePad here is completely uninspiring, with the only real use being the ability to play solely on the GamePad, making the TV screen redundant to the overall experience.

Due to Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 being so similar to it's predecessor, with a few changes that range from good to bad, it can only be recommended for die-hard fans of Fist of the North Star and perhaps die-hard fans of the Warriors games. Be warned though, there are better beat-'em-ups out there.

Screenshot for Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 on Wii U- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Dull, repetitive and uninspiring gameplay, like a butchered version of Dynasty Warriors. Dream Mode is a lot more reminiscent to the traditional Warriors format, but due to the game suffering from technical hiccoughs such as decreased frame-rate, it is not as enjoyable as it should be and still feels quite repetitive.

Graphics

Nothing near the Wii U's potential; rough edges on character models and dull looking environments. It looks slightly better on the GamePad's screen, but nowhere near spectacular.

Sound

Strong Japanese voice cast, with some catchy tunes played throughout stages. The music can become quite repetitive, though.

Value

Once players have worked through the main story, they can then tackle Dream Mode with the several different characters, which may appear boring to many gamers. Sadly, the online mechanic in this game is virtually unplayable, unless people are lucky and find someone on Miiverse that wants to play with them.

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Mediocre

About this score

With this being Tecmo Koei's second game for the Wii U, it's unacceptable for it to make similar mistakes to those made with Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. Not only that, but this game appears to be less enjoyable than its predecessor, Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage. Whilst a few issues from that game have been addressed, the developer has also removed some of the stronger components, making the experience feel a lot more streamlined. Fans of Fist of the North Star, feel free to check this out. It has a great retelling of the source material's story, but the gameplay is not up to standards. With this being a download-only title, priced at a staggering £49.99, it's very unlikely that Wii U owners will take the plunge.

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10.03.2013

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Also known as

Shin Hokuto Musou

Developer

Koei

Publisher

Tecmo Koei

Genre

Brawler

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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Nintendo really need to help Tecmo-Koei out, the awful frame rate and draw distance in their Wii U games is making the system look significantly worse than the PS3 and 360.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I was surprised to see this climbing the ranks on the eShop since launch - clearly there's a moderate fan-base building up on Wii U. Either that, or sales across eShop are so low in general that a mere 100 sales is enough to get it on the 'all-time sales' list Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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