Vist Genki!

Format: Famicom
From: Shouei System
Year of Release: 1986
Onscreen Language: English

Fist of the North Star

Hokuto No Ken
(Fist of the North Star)

The first of seven, Nintendo based, Hokuto no Ken games.

The gameplay is amazingly simplistic especially considering this was released the same year as the Mark III version. Ken must find his way around a maze of ruins and dungeons to the scene boss. Children (presumably Bat and Lin) appear in doorways as hints for which ones you should take and an unending flood of muscular thugs do their best to prevent you from completing your task.

As mentioned before this game is mind numbingly basic. Ken has two moves with which to defend himself from the infinite nameless lackeys; punch and kick which can also be performed while crouching but not jumping. The kick is the fastest so is the attack of choice but the punch does cause your enemies to pulsate and explode! At the start of the game bad guys, who often hurl knives and clubs, are beaten with a single strike but as the game progresses the tougher and more agile they become. You can protect against this by collecting power-ups that occasionally float from exploded bodies. These add stars to the top of the screen and increase you attack speed and power up to a maximum of eight at which point Ken's shirt tears off! But beware, loose a life and it's back down to zero.

As you can see from the screenshots the graphics are extremely plain! Never before has a dull, barren landscape looked so dull and barren. Inside buildings things look a little better until the backgrounds start to repeat in a different colour. The music, which isn't taken from the show, is ok at the start but the tunes loop so often you'd better mute it before you go insane. The limited sound effects do their best to mimic Ken's battle cry with what small amount of power the Famicom had.

Overall this game is as dull as it looks. The backgrounds loop infinitely like a "Hannah Barbera" cartoon while the short tune repeats constantly, chipping away at your patience while you struggle to find you way around, wandering through the same three rooms over and over while an endless hoard of the same two baddies reappear posing so little threat that they just become a constant nuisance getting in your way and preventing you from finishing the level sooner.

Stick to the Sega game.

For one or two players (not simultaneous).

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