The 11th release in the SEGA AGES 2500 Series for the PlayStation 2, Hokuto no Ken is a remake of the 1986 Sega Mark III/Master System game Hokuto no Ken (also known as Black Belt). Like the original game, the remake retells the entire first story arc of the popular manga/anime Fist of the North Star, with the player assuming the role of series protagonist Kenshiro (and on some levels, Rei) fighting dozens of nameless thugs as well as a number of major villains. The remake uses polygonal graphics, but is played entirely on a 2D plane. The original 8-bit game is also included on the disc.
Much like the original, the game is a simple side-scrolling beat em 'up with no Z-axis (depth) movement, similar to Kung-Fu Master, Vigilante, or The Ninja Warriors. Between regular levels the player takes on boss characters in one-on-one fights which more resemble a typical VS fighting game. Beyond that core setup however, the remake bears little actual resemblance to the original game, with vastly changed level design, combat mechanics, controls, music, and more.
Combat is very simple. You can punch, kick, jump and dash, you can perform dashing or jumping kick, and by repeatedly pressing the punch button you can perform Kenshiro's trademark Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken technique. There are no combos or otherwise more advanced techniques to speak of. Defeating enemies or taking damage fills up the Big Dipper gauge, which can then be used to perform various special moves such a screen-clearing attack or a temporary defense boost.