Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 is the sort-of-sequel to Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage. I say ‘sort-of’ because Ken’s Rage 2 includes the entirety of the original game (albeit slightly different combat and some different environments). While that may be good to those hoping to jump in on the ground floor, the sad fact of the matter is that this is not a very good game.
As a Tecmo Koei game, Ken’s Rage 2 is so reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors that one could say that they are of the same franchise. The gameplay involves going through the entirety of the Fist of the North Star anime and manga through the lens of a beat-em-up: defeat tons and tons of enemies, move on to the next area, defeat tons and tons of more enemies, and ultimately fight a boss.
There are combos, special moves, and a general leveling system that comes with beating enemies, but even on the harder difficulty, gameplay is reduced to an unenjoyable series of corridors and waves of enemies that are beaten with an equally repetitious combination of button mashing, signature moves, and dodging. Though plenty of series characters are available, none of them fight all that differently. The moves look different, but the characters all generally fight in a similar way, and require the same tactics to defeat bosses. It’s not just repetitive for non-fans — it’s repetitive for everyone. There is online co-op to mix up the experience, but I could never actually find a game.
Legend Mode is a story mode that follows the entirety of the original Fist of the North Star anime and manga. In addition to all of the stuff from the first game, the sequel includes all of the stuff that happened after as well as a great deal of manga-exclusive chapters that unfortunately aren’t very interesting, even as someone who liked the original story. A secondary Dream Mode also exists as a secondary mode, and does a good job of providing all new unique side stories for all of the playable characters. It’s more interesting than the Legend Mode, but I only really had fun with the anime characters I actually liked.
Ultimately the game is hindered by poor storytelling. While very faithful to the source material, the story is presented through awful comic-book cutscenes and bland in-game cutscenes. They aren’t horrible, but they take no effort to be anything exciting, and instead stand as instances of “oh, and then this happened in the story”. Despite this, the bosses are rather well-designed and occasionally fun, something to be expected from a Tecmo Koei game. Unfortunately, the best bosses are the ones that were pasted over from the original Ken’s Rage.
Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 isn’t a bad video game. It’s dull, repetitive, and does little to improve the original that it so shamelessly borrows content from. If you’re a fan, you could definitely do worse. However, I don’t think a lack of alternatives is ever a good reason to spend 60 dollars on PSN or Wii U.