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Video Game / Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage

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Fist of the North Star is an old, but very popular, manga/anime which features wandering martial artist Kenshiro in a post-nuclear wasteland in order to find his kidnapped lover Yuria, all while making evildoers explode messily with his bare hands. It has been around even since the Famicom and Mark III era; therefore, there have been many videogame adaptations of it. The problem is, most of them are mediocre and forgettable, and very few leave Japan.

Suddenly, Koei Tecmo, the company behind the Hack and Slash/Beat 'em Up juggernaut Dynasty Warriors, decided to give their own magic touch to Fist of the North Star after giving a similar treatment to the Gundam franchise. More importantly, they brought it to the US. The result is known as Hokuto Musou, or Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage. It is a very faithful adaptation, finally giving official coverage of the mythos for western audiences. The pace is slower than most of Koei Tecmo's hack and slashes, but it captures the feel of the manga, especially in regards to many of the series's well-known moves. It also features Superlative Dubbing.

Aside from Legend Mode, which chronicles the story of the manga up to the Time Skip, there's also a Dream Mode, where an original story revolves around gathering the members of the Hokuto and Nanto school, culminating in an all-out-war spearheaded by Raoh and Thouzer.

The playable roster includes Kenshiro, Rei, Mamiya, Toki, Raoh, Shin, Thouzer, and Jagi. The last three characters do not have their own Legend Mode storylines, and can only be played in Dream Mode. There are also a roster of unique NPCs such as Shew, Juda, Fudo, Juza, Ryuga, Mr. Heart, Zeed, Boss Fang, Amiba, and Uighur. Mr. Heart is playable as a DLC character, along with a Mook simply called Outlaw.

The game has a sequel/remake called Shin Hokuto Musou, or Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2. It greatly expands upon the story from the duel with Zeed up to the climatic battle against Raoh. Furthermore, the game also covers both the "Celestial Emperor" and "Land Of Shura" arcs, as well as the conflict with Bolge that serves as an epilogue to the series, skipping over the story arcs that featured Raoh's son, Ryu. Many NPCs in the first game have been Promoted to Playable, including Juda, Shew, Ryuga, Juza, Fudo, Bat, and Rin. In addition, characters from the post-Raoh arcs will become playable, including Ein, Falco, Shachi, Hyoh, and Kaioh. The game's DLC characters include Mr. Heart and Outlaw once again, but three new characters will be available for download: Amiba, Han, and the Nameless Shura. Scenes are even more faithfully adapted from the Manga, and are presented in a Comic Book style that is similar to the Ultimate Spider-Man video game. Due to budgetary constraints, the game does not have an English dub, but is instead subtitled.

The first game was released as a retail title on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 PS3 on March 25, 2010 in Japan and on November 2 and 5, 2010 in North America and Europe respectively. The second game was released as a retail title on the Xbox 360 and as a digital download on the PS3 and, surprisingly, the Wii U. The 360 and PS3 versions were released in Japan on December 20, 2012, in North America on February 5, 2013, and in Europe on February 8, 2013. The Wii U version was released in Japan on January 31, 2013 and in both North America and Europe on February 7, 2013.

Careful not to confuse this with the similarly named videogame Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage.

These Examples Are Already Dead:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: In Jagi's Dream Mode of the first game, Jagi ends up winning the affections of a cross-dressing "grandma" to his disgust.
  • Accidental Hero: Jagi and Amiba in the former's Dream Mode in the first game. They end up being recognized as heroes as they fight other villains, either for being in their way or simply to survive. By the end, they have stone busts built of them to commemorate them.
  • Adaptational Badass: Mamiya, who can now hold her own against the martial artists. In the sequel, Rin also applies.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Kenshiro's story in the first game alone is told in 14 chapters, and it surprisingly covers nearly everything up to his final battle with Raoh (skipping only the Golan and Jackal arcs that took place between Shin's death and the introduction of Rei and Mamiya). The other characters' Legend Modes expand upon said story (with many levels being slightly-altered retreads, and a handful of original levels), but it's fairly impressive that the story is told in such a short frame of time.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Ken's Rage 2 not only extends the storyline to cover the Tentei and Shura arcs, but it even features the previously unadapted (in any media) Bolge arc that concluded the original manga. It also brings back the Golan and Jackal arcs that were skipped over for the first game.
    • The Dream Mode in Ken's Rage 2 also serves as an expansion for the main storyline this time instead of the What If? of the first game, serving as backstory for most of the cast, such as how Ein met Asuka and the like.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Inverted in Ken's Rage 2; in the manga, Toki's hair turned white immediately after being exposed to nuclear fallout, which raised the question of how Kenshiro (who had seen Toki in this state) could mistake the dark-haired Amiba for him. In Ken's Rage 2, Toki's hair remains brown for a while after his radiation poisoning, with his white hair being a more recent change.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Falco's Translated title: Golden Guardian General
  • All Just a Dream: All of the Dream Mode levels in the first game are simply Imagine Spots for the various characters. Kenshiro's Dream Mode literally was this. He was never visited by the Mysterious Woman, his occurred when he was standing by the grave he had just buried Shin in, coming to a while later after Bat was trying to get his attention and going on his way.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Toki serves as one after the boss battle against Ryuga.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: A minor example. In the Japanese and European releases, Kenshiro is wearing his outfit on the cover, looking back indifferently; in the American version, he's shirtless and upholding his fist.
  • Art Shift: In Ken's Rage 2, the flashback detailing the foundation of Hokuto Shinken is presented in a hand-drawn art style, as opposed to the 3D models usually used in cutscenes.
  • Ascended Extra: Both DLC characters: Outlaw in Ken's Rage 1 (representing all of the nameless mooks) and Nameless Shura in Ken's Rage 2.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: In the Ken's Rage 2 DLC mission The Mighty Ken-Oh Army, the mooks do this. Raoh's orders render the bases uncapturable so no matter how many mooks you gib they keep on coming, you only need 300 kills to open the gates to fight Raoh, but constantly spawning Mooks + 1 hour time limit = easy Level Grinding.
  • Automatic Crossbow: The main weapons of Mamiya and Rin.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Passing 1000 kills in a single-stage makes the character you're playing as spout one of these.
      Jagi: You see that?! That's why I'm the true successor to Hokuto Shinken!
      Kenshiro: Hokuto Shinken is invincible! There are none who can defeat me!
    • Sadly absent in the second game, the characters only say something at one and two hundred kills, and it's usually a stock phrase.
  • Boring, but Practical: The many rapid fire striking specials most characters have, particularly the Hokuto fighters. They may not be all that impressive damage-wise, but they're great for filling up your smash meter and giving you access to your powerful One-Hit Kill specials.
    • Another example of Boring but Practical is Raoh's Equine Fury, which costs two spirit stocks but calls down Kokuoh for him to ride. Kokuoh generally crushes any mook under hoof in one hit moves much faster than the occasional motorbike you find, making it very easy to cover ground in large Dream mode or Challenge maps; after that you only really need to dismount to take out the occasional giant mook or major character. Sadly Equine Fury was removed in the second game, there is only one instance where Raoh can ride Kokuoh and that is the DLC mission Bikers of the Wasteland.
    • In Raoh's Dream Mode in the second game, when Thouzer brags that Raoh can't defeat him by hitting his vital points, Raoh says something to the effect of "In that case, I'll just beat you the old-fashioned way."
  • Bottomless Magazines: Weapon-users in the second game never run out of ammo and simply have to reload once in a while.
  • Boxing Battler: Ein's fighting style is expanded from simple brawling with the addition of boxing moves.
  • Broken Aesop: One that few will mourn the breaking of - Mamiya's massive Xenafication rather undermines the manga's message that she's hopelessly unsuited to being a warrior (because she's a woman) and should really just Stay in the Kitchen.
  • Brown Note: One of Jagi's Signature Moves, Scarface, has him exposing his mutilated face to his enemies and causing them to explode due to the horror of it. This causes a rather amusing moment of Fridge Logic in Ken's Rage 2's Dream Mode, as there's an alternate skin where his face isn't disfigured. One is left to wonder how this works when his face isn't the mutilated mess that it normally is.
  • Bullfight Boss: Shin in both games. While not necessary to defeat him, tricking him into lodging his fist in a pillar does give you a chance for some free hits.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Shachi's R1. It gives him a full aura stock on the spot for a paltry bit of damage, Toki's new R1 in the second game as well, striking his own Sekkako to grant a massive boost to his attack and movement speed, attack strength, and defense. Amiba's R1 is like this too, Striking vital points on his arm, he increases the size of his muscles, and this grants him some extra damage and properties on his attacks, however once the effect wears off, you lose a good quarter of your health.
  • Clothing Damage: Happens when the player character's health drops below a certain point.
  • Crapsack World: The world has been reduced to a barren wasteland where the weak are preyed upon by the strong.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Though Bat and Lin were fairly prominent characters in the manga, they do not receive much limelight in the game beyond the early stages.
    • Jagi's manipulation of Shin is completely left out of the plot of the first game, which lessens his significance in the story.
    • Both Diamond and Club are demoted to nameless commanders.
  • Downloadable Content:
    • Mr. Heart and Outlaw (a random thug) in the first game, plus additional outfits for all the playable characters based on what they originally wore in the manga. Also extra Challenge Missions; one of the more notable ones pits you against pairs of the major characters, starting with Shin and Toki, then Jagi and Mamiya, followed by Ken and Rei, and lastly Thouzer and Raoh.
    • Ken's Rage 2 adds Han, Amiba, and the Nameless Shura as playable characters , as well as even more manga-themed outfits for all the additional playable characters. There's also 10 DLC missions, split into 2 sets of 5.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The ending of the first game is the same as that of the series, but with one minor detail that makes it a Happily Ever After over a Bittersweet Ending: there is no mention of Yuria's radiation poisoning, so it can be assumed that she lives a full life with Kenshiro.
  • Failed a Spot Check: If you use Kenshiro's alternate costume minus his shirt revealing his scars, Rei won't even notice the entire Fang Clan campaign. At all.
  • Fake Longevity: A flaw of the first game is that many of the stages in the different Legend Mode stories are repeats of other Legend Mode levels. However, there is still variation within each version of the level. This is most noticeable in the chapter where Raoh first appears, which every character has to complete in Legend Mode.
    • The sequel averts this by having a single, streamlined campaign, meaning that you switch between characters mid-level rather than playing through the same levels repeatedly. Though you can re-play certain stages as other characters to advance the story, the game gives you the option to skip over levels that you've completed as other characters.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Zeed is described as this in his profile, even though the only thing he does to show for it is get angry at Kenshiro for killing them.
    • Boss Fang is more of this in this game than he is in the manga/anime, where he outright tells his men that they're expendable as long as he lives.
  • Fighting Spirit: Hyou has a few attacks that act somewhat like this, namely his Demonic Shadow Manipulation and his Charge Attack Combo, though it's more "My Battle Aura is so strong it can kill you by being next to me."
  • Flash Step: Han's R1 and His Signature move Flaming Array of Brilliance has him doing this, while looking like he's standing still while moving no less.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: In the manga, Toki can still fight despite his sickness, though too much fighting strains his body. In the game, using too much combos in his first costume (in his later appearances in the manga) causes him to suffer whiplash.
  • Giant Mook: Two kinds: big muscular guys and big fat guys. Both are hard to attack, but can be thrown into Meridian Shock by hitting them with many rapid-fire moves at once.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Han in terms of stat growth in Ken's Rage 2. Incredible Attack and Technique growth, however his Health growth is quite slow, usually being only level 25 by the time his Attack and Technique Stats are maxed at level 50, making him something of a cross between Glass Cannon and Fragile Speedster.
    • Toki is this as well having low Defense, Health, and a relatively low Attack stat in comparison to Ken and Raoh, but is still quite powerful thanks to his incredible Technique stat, as befitting the man with the most graceful style of Hokuto Shinken in its history, its bar is completely filled at level 50, which allows him to put any Mook into vital point shock in one hit.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Despite the amount of Gorn and Ludicrous Gibs in the game, it is nowhere near the level that the manga had. Regular enemies just turn black and explode into blood clouds and each storyline boss finisher is slightly changed due to a combination of tech limitations and regional regulations on the depiction of blood and gore. One specific example of an altered boss finisher is that of the Colonel, who's death is just off-screen in the game, but very explicitly seen in the manga.
  • Guide Dang It!: Getting all 7 stars on a mission in the first game. Some stars have some very odd conditions to be met before the Giant Mook that gives you the star appears. Getting all 7 stars gives you a skill point bonus at the end of the mission on easy and normal; on hard however you get Harbinger of Death, which generally turns the mission boss in Legend Mode into That One Boss.
  • The Gunslinger: Jagi's attacks primarily make use of his two Sawed Off Shotguns as well as various explosives. In the second game, his R1 special has him firing off his shotguns rapidly while cackling.
  • Happy Ending Override: Ken's Rage 2 covers just about the entire series this time around, so Yuria living ever after with Kenshiro would push anything past Raoh's defeat into Alternate Continuity territory.
  • Hide Your Children/Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the first game children and women were strangely absent in villages from this apocalyptic world, only Mamiya, Yuria, Rin and Airi seemed to exist in it, departing from the anime and manga where women and children villagers suffered just as much as the men; Ken's Rage 2 averts this by following the source material more closely, thus having women and children going through hell as well.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Mamiya was pretty modestly dressed in the original series. In the games, her outfit is pretty stripperiffic in certain areas. Subverted in the story cutscene that recreates the scene of Rei destroying Mamiya's shirt and rendering her topless to make her unable to fight. Both anime and manga showed her topless, but this version the camera stays above her shoulders or with Toplessness from the Back until she has a Naked Freak-Out and cover herself with her hands.
  • Kill It with Fire: Jagi's Level 2 hyper signature from the first game and the last signature move he gets in the second, Wildfire.
  • Lazy Artist:
    • When the second part of the story is reached in Ken's Rage 2, several years have passed, and yet the game doesn't bother in making Kenshiro look years older, not even a different set of clothes, nothing changes; originally both the manga and anime made Kenshiro age a bit, especially in the anime where he underwent a complete wardrobe change. Although his appearance could be something of a happy medium, since his face resembles his post Time Skip appearance more than his pre-time skip one.
    • In the second game's Dream Mode, certain things can be seen on the characters before they happen in the context of the story. Jagi has the Seven Scars before he inflicts them upon himself, and Mamiya's brand mark can be seen before Juda kidnaps her.
    • The sequel has Limited Animation to the max. Most cutscenes are still shots of the characters speaking, similar to Bayonetta. Noticeable in that the first game had fully rendered cutscenes for almost every mission.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Getting a level in Aura or health in Ken's Rage 2 automatically refills the respective bar to full.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The sequel, which takes seconds to load the title screen. Alleviated somewhat by a patch released, but still partially present.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Almost always happens when someone is killed. Can always happen when equipping either the Nanto, Hokuto, or Ujouken Wisdom Skills, which cause ALL attacks to cause a specific death animation.
  • Male Gaze: Done frequently and shamelessly in the first game, but downplayed somewhat in the sequel, where the only real example is the close-up of Mamiya's butt as she crawls.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Kenshiro gets misty-eyed, but he never really cries in the first game. However, Raoh and Toki let the waterworks run freely when Raoh can't bring himself to kill his opponent due to their brotherhood.
    • Played straight to hell and back in the second game, being more faithful to the source material brought gallons of tears along with it.
  • Mercy Kill: Darkly parodied with Thouzer's impale-you-with-a-great-big-spear signature move, Imperial Mercy. Fans of the manga will recognize it as how he killed Shew.
  • More Dakka: Jagi's Shotguns are capable of putting out more buckshot than some fully auto shotguns.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mamiya gets assigned for this position. Not only does her early promotional CGI art have a daring see-through skirt with a thong underneath, but her classic alternate outfit has extreme clothing damage. Whereas for the guys it's just disintegrated shirts, Mamiya's is large portions of the whole outfit, and ends when she's basically half-naked.
  • Modesty Towel: has a Modesty Towel as a costume option for Mamiya. It's cut impossibly low, but it stays glued to her no matter how much damage she takes.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Kaioh's title, Crazed Demonic Fiend.
    • One of Kenshiro's ultimate attacks is called Hokuto Tenkai Senretsu Sho, or "Hokuto Dubhe Shattering Palm." Given that "Dubhe" is a star in the Big Dipper, this could be seen as a Badass Boast attack name.
  • Nuke 'em: Jagi's Level 3 Hyper Signature, Nuclear Inferno.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs:
    • Many attacks, but most notably the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken.
    • Averted with the Hokuto Ujou Mosho Ha (where it's a series of spinning high kicks followed by a giant uppercut that sends out an energy wave), except for the cutscene of Thouzer's defeat.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Trying to get all of the stars to appear in the first game unlocks a lot of rewards as you go, and powers up Ken tremendously, but when you hit seven stars, the final boss will also become much harder, and the QTE to defeat him really does require a hundred button presses with no mistakes! Casual players probably want to avoid this.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Mamiya is once again the sole playable female. The sequel adds Rin, seemingly in an attempt to avert this.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Yuria in the first game. Her radiation sickness is not mentioned, so once Raoh dies after healing her, she and Kenshiro get to live Happily Ever After. Since the second game covers just about the whole manga, well...
  • Spell My Name With An S: A number of characters are given alternative spellings than what previous games used (e.g. Rin is Lin, Thouzer is Souther, etc.).
  • Shout-Out: In the first game, one of Jagi's taunts has him say "Listen up, you primitive screwheads! You're gonna eat lead!".
  • 10-Minute Retirement: In his Dream Mode in the first game, Kenshiro plans to retire after Toki is rejuvenated and capable of serving as successor to Hokuto Shin Ken. Marauding bandits ultimately force his hand.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: The move names are said exactly like an English person speaking the Japanese phrase, rather than speaking the translated text.
  • Walking Armory: Jagi not only carries two shotguns and a bazooka, but can also pull out Cartoon Bombs as well as an M204 that fires what are apparently mini nukes.
  • What If?: The premise of the Dream Mode in the first game is that each character is given a vision where they avoid doing something, and the outcome of it, after the whole Hokuto vs. Nanto conflict.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Like in his own spinoff story, Jagi is portrayed as a very sympathetic character in the second game's Dream Mode. At first, anyway; he still is a Jerkass (but to a lesser degree than he was in the series), and his ending implies that he raped Airi.
    • Rei also becomes one in Shin Hokuto Musou's Dream Mode, showing how he progressively turned his back on his principles after Airi was kidnapped. It's different from most examples in that he turns into more of an Anti-Hero of the unscrupulous variety than a villain.
  • A World Half Full: Despite the world being a barren wasteland where the strong prey on the weak, there are dozens of people in the world who are willing to fight for a better future (including Raoh). Also in Ken's Rage 2, in some stages you can see grass and trees growing, showing that despite being scorched by nuclear fire the world is slowly but surely recovering.
  • Wrestler in All of Us:
    • Han's throw is a German Suplex.
    • Jagi has a powerbomb as a command grab as well as a German suplex as his Grapple Move.
  • Xenafication: Mamiya gets a hefty dose. In the original manga, she's little more than The Load, and only fails to qualify as a Faux Action Girl because the rest of the cast don't expect anything from her either. In this game, she's just as much of an One-Woman Army as you'd expect from a playable character in a Dynasty Warriors spin-off.
    • Rin is no slouch in this department in the sequel either. However, unlike Mamiya, she can pick up a makeshift mallet.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: If you're not a playable main character, a main villain, or a supporting role that was named in the manga, chances your face is going to be plastered in every single villager, mook or a combination of the two.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The "Dream Mode" of the first game plays with this with a series of "what if" scenarios. But at the end of all of them, they turn out to literally be dreams and the character goes on to meet their intended destiny regardless of whether their life may have been better or worse for it.
    • With the somewhat tragicomic exception of Jagi—he actually takes the dream to heart, and is packing his things to get the fuck out of Dodge so that he avoids Kenshiro when one of his mooks tells him that Kenshiro is in the building.
    • A few Dream modes avert this, such as Rei's. He had the choice to go get Shew to help him fight Raoh. However, after watching his story unfold he decides that he can't put the lives of the others at risk just to prolong his own life. Over the course of his Dream Mode path, Shew gets killed, Airi gets taken hostage by Juda and Thouzer and Mamiya almost get executed for trying to stand up against the Nanto Army, only being saved by Rei in the last chapter. Because of all the bad things that came with Rei's alternate decision, he decides to go face Raoh alone.