Hokuto no Ken is better known in English as Fist of the North Star. If you're not familiar with the series, a super-buff Bruce Lee clone wanders the Mad Max wasteland exploding the heads and innards of various bandits and rapists using his pressure point massage techniques. Not the sort of source material you would think would be Nintendo-friendly, but this was actually the second game based on the property to grace the OG Famicom. This was the only one to get an English release, however, so in the West the first game was ignored and this sequel was called "Fist of the North Star."

The first game was a twitchy, incredibly shitty sidescrolling affair that looked like it was thrown together in a couple weeks. The follow-up makes the sprites a little bigger, and everything very slightly better-looking, but you can tell it's just the same shitty engine with a new coat of paint.

Our buff hero side-scrolls through a greater variety of levels, but the action still sucks. You wander through a bunch of common mooks who do little but provide cannon fodder, punctuated by the occasional boss battle which is usually some big shuffling guy who just does some damage when you get close. A few of them get a little more creative with little spinny dives and such, but there never seems to be any real challenge other than battling the stiff and primitive gameplay.

Of course, this being the NES, the only bit of the ol' ultra-violence to survive the transition (even on the Famicom) is the enemies twitching and their heads exploding into a glitchy mess when you punch them. Bosses usually convulse a bit and do a full-body Asplode. No blood though.

Other than the minor graphical upgrade, the biggest new addition to this sequel is that the character now gradually powers up by collecting Dallas Cowboys stars. After a couple stars you get to do the machine gun automated punches and kicks that came standard in the prequel. Get the star bar all the way up and our hero makes his shirt explode and gains the ability to throw fireballs by pressing both buttons at once. According to various YouTube longplays, you're supposed to go through some door in the third level, but I couldn't ever get it to actually work. As it turns out I wasn't missing out on much as in the original Japanese version, defeating the final boss just dumps you to the generic Game Over screen apparently. To its credit, the English version did add a super crappity credits screen.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video