(The Hokuto Ga Gotoku demo is only available on the Japanese PSN Store. You will have to create a Japanese PSN account to play the demo).
You are already dead
There are two things I must tell you about me before I get into the meat and potatoes of this impressions piece. Those who follow me and my work will know that I love the Yakuza series. The stories, characters, gameplay and its wonderful humour, I love it all. The other thing I must tell you is that I absolutely adore the Fist of the North Star. It’s my favourite anime of all time.
So when Sega announced that they were developing a Fist of the North Star game with the gameplay mechanics from the Yakuza series, I was convinced that Sega were in my head. I thought a Fist of the North Star game would go well with Yakuza gameplay but I never would have imagined that a game exactly like that would get made.
With all of that out of the way let’s get on with my impressions on the Hokuto Ga Gotoku demo.
There are two segments to the demo, one that serves as a tutorial and the other lets you walk around the city of Eden where you are tasked with getting parts for a vehicle. All whilst beating the hell out of bandits of course.
The first part of demo as mentioned above acts as a tutorial so you can get to grips with the combat. If you’ve played a Yakuza game before you’ll know how the tutorial works. You learn the basics such attacks and strong attacks, evading and blocking and of course heat moves. The heat moves are the many different techniques of Hokuto Shinken, the martial art that Kenshiro is a master of. To pull off heat moves, an enemy must have the skull symbol by their health bar lit up and then you press circle which leaves them in stunned state. Press circle again when the enemy is stunned and you’ll perform a heat move.
After the completing the tutorial and obliterating your enemies, you will be introduced to a cutscene and after that a boss battle with Shin. For people who have played Yakuza games before or those that adapt to the combat quickly this boss fight won’t be that difficult but it is very fun.
The second part of the demo gives you a bit more to do than the first. The demo starts off with Kenshiro coming out of a medical facility and is immediately greeted by Bat, a young and charismatic thief. I have to say I extremely like the way characters are introduced in Hokuto Ga Gotoku.
After meeting Bat you are tasked with getting some car parts in order to repair a vehicle however, it isn’t as simple as just buying some. Kenshiro doesn’t have the money to get the parts so you have to do a job in order to earn the money needed to get them. The job is simply fighting some bandits that are terrorising the city of Eden and they can be beaten with ease. After doing the job you will finally be able to get the car parts and the demo opens up even more.
Once the car is fixed you are able to do two things drive around the apocalyptic wasteland outside of Eden and racing. Yes, you heard that right, racing (cue flashbacks of the insane taxi missions in Yakuza 5).
The wasteland outside of Eden is massive, not GTA V or Fallout big but it is one of largest environments the Yakuza team have ever created. It is a vast expanse and the are parts of the map that I assume would lead to more areas. Unfortunately I can’t give you a definite answer as those areas are inaccessible.
There’s not that much to do in the wasteland apart from exploring, picking up items and materials and crashing into the bandits cars. Crashing into bandits cars will start a fight between Kenshiro and a large group of bad guys and I mean a lot. You end up fighting against a load of enemies and it is a tonne of fun. You can be very stylish, brutal and it is perfect for showing of Kenshiro’s skills. It’s these combat situations that are good for showing off a combat mechanic not mentioned during the first section of the demo.
There are “character” powers you can use by pressing the d-pad. Each one has a different effect. Toki’s effect allows Kenshiro to strike several opponents in lightning speed and kill them immediately. Lin’s effect heals Kenshiro and then there is Jagi’s that gives the Ken a flamethrower (Kenshiro is powerful enough. Why give him a flamethrower? It’s overkill).
Racing is one of the many mini games that you can do in Hokuto Ga Gokuto and it is fun. There is only one race track in the demo but it gives you a good idea on how they’ll play. In the demo you can do a point to point race against a couple of other racers. It’s fun but the handling of the car feels floaty. You can over steer corners quite easily which in result gives the other racers enough space to take the inside line. I’ve seen worse driving mechanics but it is bearable and doesn’t completely kill the fun that it aims to give. The cars handle the same outside of the racing.
There were things I couldn’t try out in the demo such as the bartender mini game, which from the gameplay I have seen looks absolutely bonkers. I couldn’t have a go of the hostess mini game or the casino. Also I sadly couldn’t try out the games in the arcades which made me very sad. I don’t know if karaoke is in Hokuto Ga Gotoku but if it is, I did not come across it in the demo.
Whilst there is no word of a western release as of yet for Hokuto Ga Gotoku, that doesn’t lower my excitement for this game. Given that Fist of the North Star has an established fan base in the west I think it will release over here in due time. The question here is, can you wait until a localised version of the game? After playing the demo, the urge to import this has increased dramatically.
Below are some more screenshots of Hokuto Ga Gotoku.
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