Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 Runs Into Angry Monotony

When Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage came out for game systems last year, Tecmo Koei didn't really take a tremendous new chance with formula, instead taking the same route as it did with the Dynasty Warriors titles.  You go, beat some guys to a pulp, continue, beat up more guys, face boss enemies that offer a bit of a challenge, etc.  That wasn't a complete failure in set-up, mind you, but the stale gameplay didn't really go into the kind of diverse territory that anime games usually follow.  It just followed the basics and, as a result, got tired rather quickly.

Now, with the release of the sequel, Ken's Rage 2 (why didn't it just get called Ken's Ragier or Rager or something?), Tecmo Koei again sticks to formula, as you control Kenshiro – and other characters – while they beat enemies to a pulp using super-powered attacks.  While you would think that there's something spectacular about making someone's head explode from a finger poke, you never really feel the impact.  That's because, like the previous game (and a few Dynasty Warriors titles), nothing's really changed.

The formula is pretty much the same here as it was in part one.  You beat up thugs using the same button-mash techniques over and over again.  You can put together different combos, but by the time you reach the third group of thugs in the first game, you've seen everything Kenshiro has to offer.  What's more, none of the other characters particularly stand out either, as they do the same thing repeatedly as well.  Whap, whap, explode, etc.  In the hands of the right developer, this could've been bloodily spectacular, along the same lines of, say, Bayonetta or the forthcoming Metal Gear Rising Revengeance.  But, because it sticks to formula, it never excels.

There are special techniques to activate, but they get old fast as well, and the fact that your character doesn't even have the ability to jump limits you even further.  And platforming?  You don't do anything during these segments, as Kenshiro mostly gets around automatically.  So even when you have the chance to do something different, it doesn't play out like it should.

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