A Fighting Game based on Buronson and Tetsuo Hara's classic Fist of the North Star manga developed by Arc System Works and published by Sega. It was originally released for the arcades, running on the Atomiswave hardware, in 2005 and was subsequently ported to the PlayStation 2 exclusively in Japan in 2008 as Hokuto no Ken: Shinpan Sōsōsei: Kengō Retsuden (which roughly translates Fist of the North Star: Twin Blue Stars of Judgement: History of Great Fighters), the added subtitle being the result of prior Hokuto no Ken video games. While not the first Fist of the North Star fighting game, nor even the first arcade game based on the franchise, it is probably one of the most infamous franchise entries.
It plays similarly to other ASW fighting games, but with its own mechanics: "Boost" which moves your character forward quickly while also being able to cancel attacks intol others, and the game's main attraction: Fatal KOs. Under everyone's life bar is a gauge shaped like the Big Dipper. Most special attacks, as well as a stun move called Heavy Strike (Low Punch and Low Kick) will take away a star. When a character's entire star gauge is empty, the Star of Death will show up nearby it, meaning they can be killed off with a Fatal KO which just like Instant Kills and Astral Heats, ending the match right there. A large part of the metagame revolves around taking as many Stars off of opponents as possible before setting up for a One-Hit Kill the next round.
Other mechanics include "Banishing Strike", a swing that sends your opponent flying into the corner and awards you a free opportunity to Boost if you follow it up; "Grave Shoot", a move that launches opponents for air combos; as well as the requisite health and guard gauges unique to fighting games. A somewhat interesting nuance of these systems is that the guard gauge only shows up for certain characters in certain matchups.
Reaction to the game was quite mixed. Fans of the manga and anime loved it for its attention to source detail and great music and fast gameplay while fighting game connoisseurs tend to be more critical of the game its small cast (of only 10, 11 if you count Raoh's "Ken-Oh" final boss form,) lack of balance, huge amount of infinites and lack of console exclusive extras aside from being able to play as Raoh's "Ken-oh" form.
As time went on however, Twin Blue Stars went on to be something of a Cult Classic. The game is extremely unbalanced and glitchy as all get out, with very clearly defined character tiers and many broken mechanics, but this gives the game a weird sort of charm you can't get anywhere else. The game is also famous for how incredibly free its combo system is. Due to glitches, characters can be put into infinite combo situations with some ease, often by performing Dribble (or "basuke" for the Japanese) combos that constantly bounce enemies off of the ground and high into the air. The result is one of the wackiest fighting games ever made, and a testament towards how not everything needs to be a balanced, curated experience for it to be a blast.
- Kenshiro, Mr. Heart, Shin, Rei, Mamiya, Jagi, Toki, Yudanote Southernote , Raohnote
The Time of Retribution! Battle 1! DECIDE THE DESTINY!
- Agent Peacock: On one hand, Yuda is still as vain and fey as ever but on the other he's fairly mid to high tier and has a lot of serious badass animations as well as the most useful Fatal KO in the game.
- Anime Theme Song: Uses the anime's original opening theme "Ai Wo Torimodose" in its opening demo as well as in round three of Arcade mode's final battle. And of course during a Fatal KO, an action remix of said song plays as well.
- Assist Character: Yuda has assistance from Komak and Dagarl. The player can also choose to kill Dagarl if they trigger his "Revenge!" mechanic and doing so gives them a full Tension and Boost gauge.
- Attract Mode: Featuring the original anime's opening theme, no less! It also handily provides the both the names of every playable character and their voice actor as well.
- Autobots, Rock Out!: If the final boss fight is allowed to go to the final round, "Ai wo Torimodose", the opening theme of the anime series, will play.
- Awesome, but Impractical: If Kenshiro lands the Hokuto Zankaiken, his opponent dies in three seconds!... except it's actually 20 seconds in-game. The move is also very unwieldly, misses all crouching opponents except Mr. Heart and does not affect Souther.
- Badass Normal: Both Mamiya and Mr Heart, who have no martial arts ability at all. Instead Mamiya uses her weapons and a motorbike, and Heart relies on his MASSIVE bulk.
- Calling Your Attacks: Most of the Hokuto and Nanto fighters do this as per source, except for other versions of said attacks which instead have a threatening line put to them.
- The Cameo: This game has quite a lot of those as well, such as:
- Bat and Lin appear in one of Ken's winposes.
- Shin's winpose has Yuria show up. She can also be seen in the background of the Southern Cross stage.
- Raoh's horse, Kokuoh-Go, in his winpose.
- Zeed and his gang appear in the background of Lin's Village.
- Shuu can be seen carrying the last stone up Souther's pyramid in said stage. If Souther performs his Fatal KO on this stage, a vision of his master Ougai will also show up.
- Heart's Fatal KO has cameos from the other Kingsmen, Spade, Club and Diamond.
- Charged Attack: Shin's Nanto Senshu Ryugeki super can be charged to do more hits and far more damage. Obviously only viable if the opponent's stunned but still fairly useful. Rei's Danko Sousai Ken can also be charged up so the energy slashes he throws do more damage as well.
- Combat Pragmatist: While Jagi does indeed have a few actual Hokuto moves (Hokuto Rakan Geki) and Nanto moves (Nanto Jarou Geki), most of his moveset revolves around dirty tricks like dousing his opponent in oil and setting them on fire or using his shotgun. Even his Fatal KO is the same trick he tried on Kenshiro: spilling a huge tanker of oil everywhere and setting everything on fire.
- Counter-Attack: Ken's "Hokuto Ryugeki Ko" special move,, done with quarter-circle backward and low punch motion. It can also blow the opponent back at times.
- Developer's Foresight:
- While Ken's "Hokuto Zankai Ken" super will instantly kill anyone once time is up, it won't work on Souther.
- Everyone has a unique animation for Jagi's chair threat special, Souther's pyramid super and Rei's "seven scars search" grab.
- One of Yuda's moves has him summon Dagarl to take a hit for him. But if Dagarl takes more than one hit though, he gets angry and "REVENGE!" appears over his stamina bar, and he'll attack Yuda the next time he's summoned. Turns out the player can use Yuda's Nanto Yoso Hazan super to kill Dagarl to instantly fill up his Boost and super meters. Counts as a Mythology Gag too.
- Finishing Move: Wouldn't you know it, the Fatal KOs. Drain your opponent's star gauge completely to be able to trigger these, though you do get to try again if you miss, the opponent will simply have a star restored to their gauge.
- Game-Breaking Bug: A particularly infamous example in the arcade version. If you Grave Install Rei's "Air Nanto Gekisei Kakubu", then the attack will gain a hitbox that hits infinitely upon connecting. It will easily softlock the game, but if used on original hardware, this move will overclock the arcade board itself. Word of mouth varies on this either simply breaking the board entirely to overheating the board until it starts smoking.
- Glass Cannon: Souther has incredibly fast normals, plenty of star-removing combos, and two of the best projectiles in the game. However, he's tied for the lowest health in the game, and both forms of his guard can be broken with pressure, meaning that he tends to crumble very quickly. Playing him well requires you to play like Souther would, fittingly—don't try to block or stall out a match, just stay on the attack as much as possible and don't let the opponent seize any kind of advantage.
- Megaton Punch: Raoh's Fatal KO is a punch powerful enough to cause a GIGANTIC explosion.
- Mighty Glacier: A role fulfilled by Mr. Heart of course, who serves as a classic "grappler": big command grabs, potentially high-damage single moves, the only character with a near-perfect guard, and the size and mobility of a fridge.
- Mythology Gag: Almost everywhere and could easily warrant a page of its own.
- Ken's "Hokuto Zankai Ken" super is based off of the version he pulled off on minor mook Wolf in episode 18 of the anime; upon a successful landing, a countdown will appear, and if the victim can't win the round before it hits zero, they die instantly.
- One of Shin's supers, "Nanto Senshu Ryugeki" is the same move he tried to use on Kenshiro in the anime.
- Speaking of which, Shin has a suicide fatal KO that can only be triggered if his star gauge is empty. And yes, its the exact same suicide scene from the original source and can be done on the Southern Cross stage. If its not the losing round for him though, he gets a full Star gauge in the next round.
- Shin's Fatal KO is the exact same thing he did on Kenshiro to give him is signature seven scars.
- Raoh has an anti-air based super move where he throws his cape in his opponent's face then stabs the victim in their Shinketsushu point with his finger, the exact same thing he used to doom Rei.
- Raoh also has a special where he lodges a sai into his and his opponent's foot preventing them from escaping, like he did with Toki in their first battle.
- Raoh has no backdash, a reference to his fight with Fudou, where he treated backing down as a loss.
- In the final battle, when you initially drain Raoh's health during the final battle without using a Fatal KO on him, he gets back up and unleashes his touki, regenerating his health and getting an infinite amount of Musou Tensei uses, much like his final fight against Ken.
- And naturally the ending has Raoh's famous death moment as its cutscene.
- Ken's Zankai Ken super doesn't work on Souther due to his dextrocardia. During said countdown, Souther will even count the amount of time left and laugh in Ken's face when it doesn't work, complete with Ken expressing surprise at how it didn't work.
- Jagi has a special throw he can only do against Shin. He gives Shin the same speech as he did in source, where he convinces Shin to steal Yuria away from Ken for her own good. Doing so drains Shin's Boost and super meters.
- When Rei performs his Fatal KO on Yuda, a special scene plays recreating Yuda's death scene where he admits his own jealousy of Rei and dies in his arms.
- When Rei's Fatal KO is done on Mamiya, she'll get back up only for her clothes to shred right off.
- Rei's "Danko Sousai Ken" super is the same suicide move he tried to use on Raoh. While the manga didn't show it in full and the anime only showed a hypothetical scene of what it could do if it hit from Raoh's perspective, we finally see said move in game, where Rei jumps up and throws three energy slashes which can also be charged up beforehand.
- While Raoh's default color scheme in this game gives him grey hair, he has alternate palettes featuring his blonde hair from the manga, as well as his dark hair from the anime.
- Jagi has a super where he forces his opponent to guess his name. He can do a followup where he forces them to try guessing again.
- Jagi's Fatal KO has him summon a huge gas tank and burst its pipe causing the resulting spray to fly at the enemy. If it hits, they're set on fire as Jagi tosses a match and laughs at them. Its the same thing he tried on Kenshiro, to no success.
- Yuda's blowback animation has him smash a mirror like he did when he first became jealous of Rei.
- Mamiya's Fatal KO ends with her looking upon a burning house and praying for Rei, just as she did after his death.
- If Toki lands a hit with his Hokuto Saiha Ken super that also removes the last star from his opponent's stars gauge, he'll point at the sky and announce the Star of Death's presence just as he did in his final fight with Raoh.
- Press X to Die: Shin has a Fatal KO attack that causes him to slump away from his opponent before throwing himself to his death, in reference to his demise after his fight with Kenshiro. Use of this Fatal KO counts as a win for the opponent.
- Rage Quit: Shin's suicide Fatal KO. See Mythology Gag.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Kenshiro's finishing move is the good old Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken, or "Hundred Cracking Fists". The barrage of punches actually sets the combo counter to 100 when it is done, regardless of its previous value when the attack started.
- Say My Name: Played straight with Rei and Shin's death cries being "AIRIIIIIIIIIII!" and "YURIAAAAAAAAAA!" respectively. Parodied with Jagi, who has a super where he challenges his victim to do exactly this.
- Shoryuken: Ken's "Hokuto Ujo Mosho Ha" is turned into this, specifically the HP version. Rei also has one of these.
- Shout-Out: Yuda's Kesshou Shi Fatal KO looks a lot like M. Bison's Psycho Crusher.
- The Smurfette Principle: About the only reason Mamiya is even on the roster to begin with despite not being a Hokuto or Nanto fighter or even being on any of the fighters' levels is because every fighting game needs at least one playable female.
- Spell My Name with an S: Poor Souther! This game romanizes his name as "Thouther" but even the game's announcer is confused and pronounces it "Sow-za." It also spells Yuda as "Juda" though its more consistent with that spelling and pronounciation.
- Theme Music Powerup: A rather weird example but if, during the final battle with Raoh, you reach the third round (where you're both one win away from victory in other words) then "Ai Wo Torimodose" replaces the stage BGM. If you trigger Raoh's "Resurrection" super by not beating him with a Fatal KO, then "Sentou", the remix of "Ai wo Torimodose" used for Fatal KOs will replace the BGM.
- Unstable Equilibrium: Lost stars carry over between rounds. This means that if a player gets their ass kicked in Round 1, then they start Round 2 significantly closer to Fatal KO range.
- You Are Already Dead: The catchphrase itself appears in game and when playing as Kenshiro, you can apply this to your opponent with his Zankai Ken super.
MARVELOUS! DEADLY FIST BLOW K.O.