Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (known in Japan as Shin Hokuto Musou) is a third-person large-scale action 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 sequel (of sorts) 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 (celebrating the series's 30th anniversary) and Koei's Musou franchise.
Although the game's engine is a successor of the original (such as increasing the size of enemy hordes and replacing jumping with evasion techniques), the story remains the same, as the game tells the story of Kenshiro, the rightful successor to the ancient and deadly martial arts known as "Hokuto Shinken", in a post-apocalyptic world. The game covers every story arc mentioned in the manga (except the Ryu Saga), including those that were not in the game's predecessor. Unlike the predecessor, the game will only be dubbed in Japanese with English subtitles.
The beat-em-up style of play still kept it roots from before where the players it pitted among a countless horde of enemies whilst the player must beat up every enemy to advance to another area. Upon defeating each enemies, blue orbs would go directly to the player which are called karma points. These points are the equivalent of experience points which are used to level up the character. There are 5 stats which can be increased:
If any of these stats get a "Level Up" message whilst in the game, a bonus is given based on that stat e.g. Getting a level up in health would instantly give full healing or defense would increase armor for a certain amount of time.
After a stage is completed, the player is sometimes rewarded with scrolls which are used to give a permanent increase to any of the 5 stats. Each scroll can hold of either of 1-3 stats with some holding additional properties. Players can equip these scrolls in a row of 5 slots and can carry up to a total of 21 scrolls. If the player is carrying to many, then they must remove any unwanted scrolls to continue. If the scrolls are equipped where two stats are connected in a line, an extra boost to the stat is given.
The player main attacks are normal and strong where the normal attack string a list of hits together and the strong hit is capable of not just releasing a strong attack but can also branch off into a different combo (e.g. Normal, Strong or Normal, Normal, Strong).
Some players have the ability to perform a stronger attack by holding the strong button and releasing it. This ability can also be used to cancel a string of hits by holding the strong attack button whilst the player is starting a combo so that the combo can be extended for pulling off more damage.
The jump mechanic has been removed from this game in replacement for a dash and dodge mechanic. As an enemy is about to attack, the player can press the dodge it can also follow it up with an attack that pushes the enemy away (which costs a portion of the power gauge). A dash is a quicker way of performing a running attack by moving in a direction and pressing the button.
There's also another button which also performs but it is unique to the player e.g. Kenshiro would perform an instant kill or Juuza can perform an additional set of hits combination with the chain combos.
Throws are also usable but only 1 throw can be performed as opposed to 2 throws from the first game. Useful for when stronger enemies are guarding a lot.
Taunting opponents can bring a group of weaker enemies together making it useful to perform signature moves.
Signature moves are back where the player can perform a powerful move which consumes which costs anywhere between 1-5 bars depending on the move and it can take out a portion of the area (which is shown on the HUD).
- 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 modes in the game: Legend Mode Mode and Illusion Mode and that also online co-op and versus has been added to Illusion Mode.
In Legend Mode, the player goes through the story of "Fist of the North Star" based on the manga is which the presentation of the story is shown via a comic book style with the character models and sound effects written across the page. As the story progresses, there would be on some occasion where the player would have to press certain buttons to proceed with the story , like a quick time event but the player is not punished for these events if nothing is pressed or if the wrong button is pressed. As the story switches to combat, the player would complete a part of the game where the player would go through the story before the next cut-scene would start. Sometimes with boss fights, some cut-scene would appear to change the pace of the fight that would happen in the story. They would happen when a segmented part of the boss health is dropped.
Illusion Mode has returned from the previous game where the character would have their own different ending. The characters are split up into different groups:
- Hokuto Shinken - Kenshiro, Toki, Jagi, Raoh
- Nanto Seiken - Rei, Shin, Souther, Yuda, Shuu, Fudo
- Hokuto Army - Bart, Lynn
- Individual Fighters - Mamiya, Falco, Ryuuga, Juuza
- Other - Mr Heart, Outlaw
The map settings has also been changed from the last game as well, giving different surroundings from the previous game.
Each area has an assigned level with a kill counter showing how many enemies are required to kill to face the leader of the group. Once a stage is complete, a portion of a picture is revealed where the player has to complete this mode with all characters in a group to reveal the picture.
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)
Just like what they did for Hokuto Musou, they've also have a collector's edition known as the "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