Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Touch Pen Way To Fighting

Hokuto no Ken, otherwise known as Fist of the North Star, sits near the top of my list of favourite manga series. A violent and often graphic martial arts manga, it's probably the only comic book which has the Bruce Lee-like protagonist going a-ta-ta-ta! all the time, just like the legend himself.

Anyways, I wouldn't be at a lost of words to describe the latest Hokuto no Ken game for the Nintendo DS, Hokuto no Ken: Hokuto Kami Denshoumono no Michi. To put it succinctly, the game is like Ouendan and its ilk (Ouendan 2, EBA).

Take the manga panel style gameplay of Ouendan, replace the panels with scenes from the Hokuto No Ken manga, and substitute the soundtrack with kungfu yells and screams, and there you go.

Fans of Hokuto no Ken will know that Kenshiro fighting style involves hitting an opponent's acupuncture points and this game indulges in that. Most of the time, enemies will be occupying the manga panels, and you'll have to tap on dots (representing those acupuncture points) appearing on those enemies within a time limit.

Hitting all the dots within a panel will get you a "Perfect" rating (and "shattering" the enemies at the same time, we wouldn't have it any other way, of course) while missing one or two, will earn you a "Great" rating. Sometimes, it is only possible to advance by getting a "Perfect" rating. The game will also have you sliding the stylus furiously back and forth in some segments.

There's plenty of voice work going on, which is cool and if you do read Japanese, it's like reading the manga itself (while tapping on dots). The artwork in the manga panels is a visual treat because unlike the manga, which is normally B&W, the game is in full colour (yay!).

One of the problems I foresee is that the game might get boring in a while. After all, the game has no catchy soundtrack to speak of (unless you consider Bruce Lee as a songbird); it's mainly about tapping dots before the timer runs out.

Even so, I like the game. And fans of the manga would probably lap it up. Hokuto no Ken: Hokuto Kami Denshoumono no Michi is available at Play-Asia with free international shipping to certain countries. Click here for further details.