This might be the worst game I’ve played so far.
Story/Characters: The story of this game is an entirely new one, in an odd way. From what I’ve seen, most games based on existing franchises like this take one of three routes: (1) An adaptation of the original story, (2) A sequel or episode starring the main characters, or (3) a side-story with new characters and maybe cameos. The story of this game is unusual in that it’s an original story that uses nearly all of the characters from Fist of the North star but in ways that make it incompatible with the original manga series. It’s a complete parallel story.
One site I found described the story as “30 elementary school kids throwing together their ideas in a week.” I can understand this — there are a lot of silly elements to it, and a good deal of the story is recycling plot points from the original series. The overall story involves Makoutei, who has revived after 2000 years of sleep. Kenshiro dies in the opening scene, leaving it to the main character to go out and defeat him. There are a fair number of plot twists but they often don’t quite work.
The characters are all the familiar people from Fist of the North Star, and fans of the series may like the opportunity to control characters that are villains in the anime or die quickly.
World: The game world is the post-apocalyptic world of the manga. Of course it’s constrained by the manga itself — there was no real sense of geography in the series, just a bunch of towns that were all kind of the same except for what person was controlling them. In that sense this game does a good job of mimicking the manga, and all the identifiable places in the series are here. But as an RPG it ends up being pretty dull since everything’s the same.
Game Flow: As usual for this era, the random encounter rate is way too high. You can escape from dungeons for free, so I suppose at least you can try to explore the dungeons while leveling. There are a few places in the game where the bosses are a significant leap in difficulty, and there’s very little strategy you can employ, so you basically just have to grind. The dungeons tend to be far too large, especially considering there’s usually nothing of interest in them aside from the boss.
Even when you’re making progress it doesn’t really feel like you are because everything looks the same.
System: Straight, old style RPG. Battles are debuff-attack-attack-heal. Dungeons are just mazes with mostly worthless treasure chests and virtually nothing to do besides that. No mini-games or anything.
I mentioned this in the opening post, but the biggest disappointment here is that so little respect was paid to the Fist of the North Star series in terms of the fighting. The characters are superhumans who fight with their fists but can kill people instantly. Kenshiro, Rei, and the others can deal with normal people without even breaking a sweat. Of course this is hard to directly translate to an RPG, but they didn’t even try. You equip knives and nunchucks, which they never do in the series, and you have the ridiculous sight of Kenshiro, Toki, and Rei having to slowly wear down random grunt fighters. It’s not as bad as 3 where Bat, a little kid equipped with a knife, starts out with a higher attack power than Kenshiro. But why was this even a Fist of the North Star game?
Side Quests/Optional Content/Replayability: None. I suppose that you could try the later part of the game with different characters, but since all the characters are effectively the same, just with slightly different attacks, it’s not worth it.
Interface: Ugh. Everything is slow. It takes forever to buy and sell things, and to equip stuff. Of course there’s no single-button talk/search. There’s some sort of bug in battle if you take back moves that causes you to have to enter moves twice.
Graphics/Sound: The in-battle graphics are not bad, but they could have done a much better job making the characters look like their manga/anime equivalents. Out of battle the graphics are shameful. Everything is brown and gray (I guess this does fit the source). The walking animation looks terrible. The map sprites barely look like the characters. All of the dungeons look exactly the same, and the floor tiling is eye-splitting.
The BGM is acceptable. The sound effects are mostly good; they even put in some “ATATATATA” and other voice clips to add to the show atmosphere.
The next game I have on my list from this source is Sandora’s Adventure, a spinoff of the Valkyrie series that had a limited English release as Whirlo. I have no clue how this got on any RPG list — as far as I can tell it’s a straight platformer that has no RPG elements whatsoever. So an easy skip.
So next up is the last in the “5 kusoge” continuing series — 3×3 Eyes, another game based on a manga.
However, I am moving and then will be on vacation for almost a week for 4th of July, so updates could be sporadic. I should be able to post something this Saturday, but possibly not the week after that.
This may be the worst game yet, but there's always something far worse ahead, video games have always suffered from shovelware-syndrome.
Atleast graphically things seem to pick up quite fast to passable levels after this early period of shaky rpgs on the system.
Looking forward to 3×3. It doesn't look very inviting from screenshots, but games set in modern times can be cool.
It does seem bad, but I guess it's still better than the FC HnK 3 and 4… FC had its fair share of crappy RPGs too, no doubt about it – although it has to be said that it was also technically inferior.
I've recently checked some Genesis Japan exclusives – looks like there are very, very few of those, since Genesis wasn't really an RPG platform by any means.
It's actually not that bad so far. The main complaint seems to be later in the game, particularly the final dungeon.