Vist Genki!

Format: Mark III
From: Sega
Year of Release: 1986
Onscreen Language: Japanese

Fist of the North Star

Hokuto No Ken
(Fist of the North Star)
"Black Belt" (UK/USA)

Fight your way through six chapters based faithfully on the Hokuto No Ken TV series.

Each chapter of the game contains two parts. The first is a scrolling section where Ken must punch and kick his way through and unending tourent of nameless goons, each one sent to hell -in a shower of chunks- with a single blow, as well as several of the shows Generals. Defeating the last of the Generals leads to the second part; the boss battle.

The format changes here to a one-on-one confrontation with large sprites replacing the tiny ones seen earlier. The battles often require more thought and care than the scrolling punch-ups and defeating your opponent usually calls for the stategy Ken implemented in the series.

The gameplay is deceptively simple; basically "walk, punch, walk, punch, repeat", but as the game progresses the difficulty is ramped right up! Losing energy becomes a lot easier as the speed of the goons increases and recovering it is near impossible, save for one of the almost mythically rare hidden power-ups! You are rewarded with an energy boast after successfully overcoming a General but that's often little help.

As mention earlier the game is faithful to it's source. You battle Shin in his palace at Southern Cross to rescue Yuria, fight your way through the courtyard of Cassandra facing the Warden and the King's Guard before a showdown with the imposter Toki and, of course, the game concludes with a difficult battle against Ken's most powerful brother Raoh. The backgrounds convey the locations well to a point but are recycled quite a lot during the later stages. Sadly the music used is not taken from the series.

Released in 1986 when video games were far from what they are now. The simplistic graphics and gameplay will put off all but the most die-hard Hokuto No Ken fans but take it from me, it's worth a try. If you are up for a real challenge a secret seventh chapter can be accessed by a simple joypad combo after the game is completed. This near impossible survival match has Ken face each boss in successtion without recovering any energy in between! Good luck!

Note:- Hokuto No Ken was released on the Master System under the title
"Black Belt". The gameplay is the same however all of the sprites and backgrounds are completely redrawn. Also most of the special boss defeating tactics have been removed and the names and plot changed.

In 2005 it was also remade for the Playstation 2 as Volume 11 of the Sega Ages collection, with this game also included. Click here for more details.

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