Hokuto Musou Hands On Preview

Kenshiro is back and ready to bring several fistfuls of justice to your home consoles in Hokuto Musou (Fist of the North Star) for the PS3 and Xbox 360. After spending a bit of time with the Japanese version I'm here to give a small hands on preview of the game.

"But wait, what the hell is Fist of the North Star?" You ask.
I respond with this:

The dude just punched out a freaking tank. Seriously.

Cool, now that you're all up to speed let's talk about the game.

Hokuto Musou follows the adventures of Kenshiro and his friends as they journey through the wasteland defending the weak and innocent from ruthless gangs. Since Ken has had countless battles, the game only features his important fights. Fans of the series will recognize many familiar scenes and characters as the game stays very faithful to the original series.

The game almost never deviates from the source material of the series at all,
so fans should be pleased.

There are two different game play modes, the Story mode and the Dynasty mode. During the story mode, you choose which character you'd like to play as and watch as their story unfolds. Stages during this mode are pretty linear, so you'll mostly be following a straight path to the stage boss at the end of the level. Throughout stages in story mode you'll be presented with "challenges." Most of these challenges require you to do things such as beat up a certain amount of goons, or beat up a large amount of goons in four minutes, or beat up a larger amount of goons before they beat up a few villagers. Every once in a while the game mixes things up and offers a challenge unique to that level, though you'll still beat something up in the end. After completing a challenge you earn a star point for your star meter. Each stage has seven star points to get, and earning a star point earns you bonuses and power ups that last for the rest of the stage. Despite the linearity of the stages, it's still well worth your time to stop and wander off the beaten path for a little while. Many of the challenges are hidden in hard to reach areas or require a bit of backtracking to locate.

Visually this is probably one of the best looking "Warriors" games I've ever seen.

Players familiar with the Dynasty Warriors series should probably feel at home with the Hokuto Musou's Dynasty mode. In this mode, players take the role of any of their unlocked characters and run around a very large map completing various objectives (read: beat people up). Although you're mostly beating up more goons, a few things differentiate this mode from the normal story mode. During Dynasty mode, you will usually encounter many more enemies on screen at once, and like in Dynasty Warriors, you'll also have a small army of your own to help fight your enemies. Another neat addition to the Dynasty mode is the split-screen co-op mode in which you and a buddy choose your own characters and mow down hordes of enemies together.

After each stage, you can use your skill points that you've acquired throughout the level to upgrade your character to have special abilities, more health, or higher attack power. And you'll need to upgrade, as the game gets increasingly difficult in some of the later stages.

I didn't mention it, but there are also quite a few supers and finish moves you can
pull off to brutally decimate your opponents.

With an easy to learn fighting system, a nice selection of unlockable characters, and a fair share of challenging bosses, Hokuto Musou manages to be a solid beat-em-up. Although Tecmo Koei hasn't given an official release date for the UK/US versions, you can expect to play it sometime soon.