Review by Unleashed Vortex
"I'll meet you in hell, Kaioh!"
Imagine a world plagued by the aftermath of a deadly and destructive war, a post apocalyptic nightmare now ruled by rampaging and looting biker gangs who go from town to town raiding the survivors of much needed food and water and murdering defenceless people just for the fun of it. Also consider the fact of a power hungry king ruling over what is left of the world with an iron fist with a large vicious army ready to obey his every command. Sounds like hell on earth doesn't it. Well it's the fictional story of the ageing anime masterpiece Fist of the North Star.
The game Last Battle on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis was a game that seemed to be based on this story with very similar characters and very similar moves that were performed on the second series. Although the role of Kenshiro (the hero of the story) is renamed to the character Aarzak, an extremely thick muscled character who is immensely strong with the ability to perform the Hundred crack fist of the North Star which sends out a huge variety of punches on certain pressure points on the body. This causes the enemy to swell up and explode in a graphic nature.
The story to the game is explained in its entirety at the beginning of the game for some unbeknownst reason which kind of spoils the game because you know what is going to happen. You know the feeling you get when you really get into a book or a movie that you have never seen/read before and then someone tells you what happens at the end of it which you wanted to discover for yourself? Well that's what happens so I won't go down that path but it's basically about a young man having his girlfriend kidnapped by three evil generals (one being his estranged brother, now named Gromm (but he should be called Hyou) and the final boss, looks identical to Kaioh. Anyway, Aarzak sets out on mission to rescue the girl (who is called Alyssa, who seems to remind me of Lynn for obvious reasons) and defeat the generals bringing peace to the land.
So how does this game work? It's a fairly simple game to grasp and I found it quite easy to play, basically you control your character and take him thorough different areas of the land where you will be constantly be attacked by troops and troops of enemies which can be easily disposed of by one swift punch or kick which will send most enemies flying across the screen or in the case of bosses, having an all out brawl to the end which will involve you possibly having to perform the deadly Hokuto Shinken move I mentioned earlier which will blow them to bits in a true censored fashion. Some levels may have a character you can converse with who will give you some pointless information that will try to help you in some way although only one of them actually says something of true importance to the plot in the whole game.
Choosing your level appears in a style similar to one of the Super Mario Bros. 3 game on the NES. You can see all of the levels on the chapter of the game you are on and where you can go, although some areas may be blocked because of an undeveloped part of the story . Levels include an area just crammed with bad guys who come at you in all directions, empty filler levels, boss levels and labyrinth levels which will send on a perilous adventure through a maze riddled with traps and enemies, you will have to find your own way out here with next to no clues I'm afraid!
Fighting more and more enemies will increase your power level gauge, which is situated at the bottom of the screen. Upon every second or third hit it will increase slightly until it reaches a certain stage, when it progresses over the stage your character will power up, with his pectorals and six-pack in shown in full glory making Aarzak able to perform faster punches and kicks and also a jumping kick which you can't do normally. With this power you can perform the hundred crack fist of the North Star move, which you can use against bosses and such to blow them up, by rapidly pressing B.
Enemies include soldier-like characters which fall from the sky or come running at you with weapons such as axes, swords and knives etc. Most can be knocked away with a single punch while some more crafty ones may jump on you to knock you back into another enemy emerging somewhere in the other direction which can create a dangerous game of pong with you as the ball and the two bad guys as the bars. Getting yourself in a predicament like this will drain a lot of your health, which is hard to replenish due to the complete lack of power ups. Most bad guys are soldiers who look identical except for colour changes (palette swaps) but different areas will have different types of enemies.
While Bosses will fight you in one-on-one combat style as seen in most fighting games and you will have to beat, major bosses such as Duke (Rei) and the three generals of Hokuto Ryuuken, Han, Hyou and Kaioh will require you to perform the Hundred crack fist of the North Star which will either kill them or seriously beat the sugar out of each other.
Visually this came isn't that bad, considering that fact that it was one of the first games released on the system (all the way back in 1988). All of the sprites on the game are really big, like the characters on the game Altered Beast which is a good thing because it allows more detail to be included on the characters especially Aarzak who is given a lot of detail on his muscles for example especially when he was power up, makes you think in a way because Sega seemed to have a short fascination with scantly clad heavily over-muscled men. Although this is isn't pleasing to the male gamers eye you have to give Sega some credit on the over detailed muscles that Aarzak boasts.
Enemies are given less detail and the majority of them are repeated with colour changes. Despite the massive amounts of bad guys there are probably about four real different types: soldiers, pirates, masked men and men with shells and scythes that ride on one another's shoulders. They aren't given that much detail but they don't look great but they look good enough, most them have weapons which also look quite good (well, they look like what they're meant to look like). Bosses look a lot better because they are bigger therefore they allow more detail than there smaller companions. Most bosses are give good enough detail to make them look quite impressive for an early 16-bit game. Backgrounds are just average backdrops with little to catch the eye, mainly consisting of broken buildings etc. which look fairly good but are once again nothing special.
Music in the game is basic and limited and every chapter has it's own special them plus the universal boss theme and labyrinth theme. Quality-wise the music is all up to standards for an early 16-bit game sounding pretty good but not but not groundbreaking or anything like that. I found the music very addictive and I found myself remembering the tunes especially the boss music which sounds absolutely fantastic, having a grand fantasy theme about it which sounds very cheesy yet memorable which is all I ask for when I assess sound in a game. The sound effects are nothing too great because they are just basic swishing and impact noises which are nothing short of average but they are not important in any way.
Overall, this game is a great challenge to complete and it is reasonably long. While not the most complicated of games it still provides the action that we all desire in our gaming experience, not really a game for people who enjoy problem solving RPG games but a thumbs up for beat-em-up and platform fans who will find this mixture of game play fun and challenging enough to play it through once and enjoy it but they will probably never approach it again. I guess it has a low replay value but it's fun while it lasts and it is hard as nails so it will be interesting to play through despite the fact that all of the characters have stupid names!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/14/04, Updated 01/23/05
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