Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (known in Japan as Shin Hokuto Musou) is a third-person brawler developed by Koei and published by Tecmo Koei for the Xbox 360 (on February 5, 2013), PlayStation 3 (also on February 5, 2013), and Wii U (via the Wii U eShop on February 7, 2013). Originally released in Japan on December 20, 2012 (except the Wii U version, which includes retail, on January 31, 2013), the game is a follow-up to the 2010 brawler Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, which is based on both the anime and manga series Fist of the North Star and Koei's Musou franchise. The game was released in time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Fist of the North Star franchise.
Fist of the North Star tells the story of Kenshiro, the rightful successor to the ancient and deadly martial arts known as "Hokuto Shinken", in a post-apocalyptic world. While the original Ken's Rage adapted the story from the opened chapter against Zeed to the final battle with Raoh, Ken's Rage 2 adapts the vast majority of the manga storyline, with only the Ryu arc left out. The game's story is presented in diorama-like manga panels and cut scenes that set up each stage.
Unlike the original Ken's Rage, the North American version of the game does not feature an English voice track. All character voices are in subtitled Japanese.
The basic premise and flow of the game is the same as that of the original Ken's Rage, with beat-em-up gameplay against countless hordes of enemies that must be defeated to advance from one area to the next. Defeated enemies yield karma points, which are the game's form of experience points and are used to level up the player's five core stats:
Experience is earned for each statistic separately, based on the player character's actions and state as enemies are defeated. The player may further augment the player character's stats by equipping scrolls found over the course of the game. Each scroll features up to three stat boosts and can be set in one of five slots in a three-by-five grid. By equipping scrolls with matching icons that line up, the power of the stat boost is increased. The player may hold up to twenty-one scrolls at a time.
Similar to other Musou titles, the player's character can perform normal and strong attacks and chain them into simple combos consisting of a series of normal attacks capped by a strong technique. The move performed at the end of the combo depends on the combo's length. Additionally, select characters have the ability to increase the power of their strong attack by holding the button before releasing it.
Ken's Rage 2 replaces the first game's jump move with a new dash and dodge mechanic. As an enemy is about to attack, the player can press the dash button to dodge the strike. The player can also dash across the ground by pressing the button as they are moving. If the player successfully dodges an attack, they can follow up with a counter that pushes the enemy away at a cost of a section of the power gauge.
Additional moves include throw attacks, character-specific specials, and taunts, which can be used to gather enemies together.
Signature moves make a return from the first game. As the player progresses and unlocks more signature moves, the active move can be selected by cycling through them with the D-pad. Depending on the move, performing a signature move will take between one to five bars of the special meter.
- The green health gauge show how much health the player has until it depleted. The health bar is split into segments (3 by default), if equipped with the right skills, the health can be regenerated over time. But, if for example the player is 3 full health bars and the health is reduced to 2 full bars, the play can regenerate health up to the second bar.
- The Signature Move bar shows which move is equipped and how of the radius the damage will spread as shown in orange (if the move is a non-attacking move, then it will not show the color).
- The Power gauge is shown in a vertical line which is used for filling the Spirit gauge.
- The Spirit Gauge is shown in blocks which are used to perform signature moves.
- A combo counter has been added but only starts counting once it reaches to 10 hits. If a multi-hit combo is used, then counter would increase very quickly.
- A timer automatically appears whilst fighting in an area and once complete, the player is graded depending on how fast they complete the area.
- The enemy counter has changed to showing how many enemies are left remaining in the area before entering the next area.
- A map shows the player and where the enemies, allies, flags etc. are. Unlike before, the map shows as one whole map as opposed to segments.
- If fighting against a boss, a boss meter would be displayed at the bottom of the screen with the option of the camera to be in Free-Mode or Fixed to see where the boss is located.
Other characters have been confirmed but not playable:
There are two primary modes of play: Legend Mode Mode and Dream Mode. Dream Mode may be played in single-player, or as a co-op/competitive mode.
In Legend Mode, the player advances through an adaptation of the Fist of the North Star manga storyline. The story is told primarily through the use of manga-style panels and cutscenes, with the occasional need to press a button to trigger an action.
In combat, the character under the player's control is primarily dependent on story progress, though there are occasions when the player is given a choice between characters to control. Boss fights in this mode take place in multiple stages, with each section of the boss's segmented life bar representing one stage of the fight.
Occasionally, the player will be given a special objective to complete in order to proceed, such as using thrown objects to defeat enemies on the other side of a chasm.
Dream Mode, which first appeared in the original Ken's Rage, tells alternate storylines for each of the player characters. This mode also features numerous playable characters that are not playable in Legend Mode. The characters are split up into different groups:
- Hokuto Shinken - Kenshiro, Toki, Jagi, Raoh
- Nanto Seiken - Rei, Shin, Thouzer, Yuda, Shuu, Fudo
- Hokuto Army - Bat, Rin
- Individual Fighters - Mamiya, Falco, Ryuuga, Juuza
- Other - Mr. Heart, Outlaw
In Dream Mode, each stage features a map divided into territories. The player must defeat all of the enemies in a territory to claim it. Once enough territories are claimed, the stage's boss will appear and can be fought.
Completing each stage yields a piece of a portrait. The player must complete every character's Dream Mode story in order to collect them all.
Special Editions (Japan Only)
Ken’s Rage 2 Legend Edition Console
A special edition PlayStation 3 console was announced on the 30th of November 2012. It is a 250GB "Super Slim" model, with the artwork of the characters on the top and bottom part of the console with the logo "Shin Hokuto Musou" written in the side. The box contains the following:
- The 250GB Playstation 3 console with the custom print.
- A copy of Ken's Rage 2 for the PS3
- 1 Dualshock controller with the custom print
- Power Cord
- AV Cable
- 1 USB Cable
- PSN Code to unlock Kenshiro's DLC costume from the Shura arc.
- Custom printed pouch for smartphones.
The price for the console was noted at HK$2,580.
Collector's Edition (JPN only)
Tecmo Koei also released a special "Treasure Box" for Shin Hokuto Musou. The box contains:
- Copy of the game
- Visual Story Book
- Calendar which can be also used as mini postcards
- Kenshiro USB Stick (4GB)
- Soundtrack of the game
- Character stickers
- DLC Code to change Kenshiro into manga outfit
- Phone pouch