Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise was developed by RGG Studio and published by Sega, in 2018, for the PlayStation 4. As an adaptation of the manga/anime, Fist of the North Star, the title utilizes the engine and mechanics featured in RGG's Yakuza series. This 3D open-world RPG utilizes beat 'em up combat, features dozens of side-quests, and allows players to explore the city of Eden during day and night. The game is currently available exclusively to PlayStation 4 physically and digitally.
Lost Paradise is based on the Fist of the North Star manga and anime and takes place after Kenshiro's fight against Shin. Attempting to take back his love, Yuria, he defeats Shin only to find she's no longer there. The story deviates from the source material as Kenshiro finds himself in the city of Eden.
Here, he's initially made prisoner for entering and fights his way out of prison in the Gladiator Games. He meets the Captain of the Watch, Jagre, the manager of the city's nightclub, Lyra, and the ruler of Eden, Xsana. During his time in Eden, Kenshiro will take on side-quests, assist his new allies, and attempt to find Yuria within Eden.
I enjoy this story adaptation because it introduces prominent characters, like Raoh, Souther, Rei, Rihaku, and other familiar faces to this story. Needless to say, the story does not follow the source material in the same way other anime adaptation titles tend to. Rather, it goes its own path opting for an original narrative. That being said, I was quite fond of the ending as well especially thanks to the post-credits scene.
The title follows the Yakuza formula. That is to say, Kenshiro will explore the City of Eden while progressing the narrative. I enjoy the familiar exploration but not so much the pace. Not only does Kenshiro lack the sprint button featured in the Yakuza titles but the wasteland travels could take a while. Quick travel points weren't even set up in Cassandra or some other areas making certain tasks, including substories, a chore.
The familiar battle system of Yakuza comes with a twist. Engage in battle, hit combos, and level up Kenshiro with a series of skill trees. Unfortunately, the camera was particularly bad in this entry. It's easy to get hit from behind especially after using a finisher. Plus the long-loading times seemed to avoid inviting me to battle sometimes. However, I do love using the Hokuto Shinken techniques to finish off enemies though I wish they had shorter animations. I can only take Hokuto Twin Execution so many times before I get tired of seeing it.
Despite this, the combat was clearly the strong suit of the title. However, Lost Paradise also features Yakuza's type of mini-game variety such as racing, playing old-school Sega Arcade games, bartending, and even the series' hostess cabaret clubs. It's easy to unwind in the game and still feels quite rewarding as they lead into substories of their own.
Although this 2018 title was released after Yakuza 6 and Yakuza Kiwami 2, Lost Paradise does not utilize the former's Dragon Engine. The title's 60 FPS comes with constant transitioning in and out of buildings, locales, and as mentioned earlier, longer load times. The art style looks more similar to an anime than the realistic designs of Yakuza. This can especially be seen with the Kiryu Kazuma skin in comparison to how he looks in his home Yakuza series.
The battles look and sound as gory as any fan of Fist of the North Star can ask for. The hard-hitting sound effects follow enemies exploding into a bloody mess but with the Yakuza series' style of animation. Kenshiro learns multiple Hokuto Shinken techniques that come straight from the manga and anime series. Longtime fans and newcomers alike will assuredly appreciate this tribute.
Fist of the North Star offers a strong soundtrack as standard with the Yakuza games. I was quite fond of this version of the latter's "Receive You" which plays when driving around in the buggy. Jagi's battle theme features a symphonic metal style while the Sphere City approach amps up the player for the final battle with a chorus.
Finally, while I'm quite fond of English dubs in most games and anime I play, I kept the voices to Japanese. The reason being is that I both watched Fist of the North Star and played the Yakuza titles in Japanese. While keeping this transition loyal in this title, I noticed multiple voice actors from Yakuza reprise a sort-of counterpart role in this game. Kiryu's voice actor plays Kenshiro, Goda from Kiwami 2 plays Raoh, and Haruka's voice plays Rin's. Yakuza veteran fans will certainly appreciate the casting here.
Fist of the North Star does good in many ways. Yakuza has always followed inspiration from the Fist of the North Star. As such, Kiryu is the stoic, strong guy that takes down thugs and protects the people. This truly feels like a dream project for RGG Studios.
I enjoy the animations, boss battles, and the familiar Yakuza settings. It even includes a few familiar faces, like Komaki and Jo Amon. However, I never bothered finishing the Substories in this game because I lost interest. Much of that was due to the long loading times and the technical pacing issues I have with traveling. Unlike the Yakuza titles, there are no taxis or quick travel points in this game which I feel is a step backward.
The technical flaws in this game deem it similar to Yakuza, but not quite as good. As such, it's a Yakuza Minus title. Same game and engine, but bogged down by a few flaws. Longtime Yakuza fans are best playing this if they're huge fans and want to try the Fist of the North Star take. Fans of the anime/manga series will certainly appreciate this title as well.
While it's not the best Yakuza game, by no means is it a bad game. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Although I changed the difficulty to Hard early on, I was none too impressed with Raoh eating up half a bar of health and forcing me to restart the entire match, QTE cutscenes and all. I was also quite frustrated with all the progress I made in the game's final gauntlet, losing near the end, and having to do it all again. If you play on Hard, do be wary. On the flip side, if you enjoy the challenge, the Gladiator Games will give you plenty of enjoyment.
Final Verdict: Recommend
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise takes the action of the Yakuza games and Fist of the North Star and puts them together in the best possible adaptation. RGG Studios was definitely the best choice to handle a series that they've referenced for nearly two decades worth of games. I feel newcomers to the series would enjoy this one almost as much as Yakuza 0. While I feel the technical aspects could be better, it's an enjoyable game nonetheless.
Make sure you follow us on our social media pages below for the latest quality gaming content, reviews, previews, and editorials!