While I didn’t know a whole lot — if anything — about Fist of the North Star before playing this game, I did know that it was supposed to play similarly to the Yakuza series by the same developer. Since I was up to date with Kiryu and Yagami’s adventures in Kamurocho, I figured I should check out Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise too. What’s more, it had a DLC skin to let you play as Kazuma Kiryu instead of Kenshiro, so it was pretty much a guaranteed purchase for me.
Based loosely on the characters and events of the Fist of the North Star manga from the 1980s, Lost Paradise spins things off in its own direction. It takes place in a post-nuclear apocalypse, with protagonist Kenshiro searching for the woman he loves. Kenshiro (Ken for short) is a master of the martial art called Hokuto Shinken, which means that he can hit someone’s pressure points to cause disabling or deadly effects. He can also heal certain things, such as aches, pains, and blindness caused by chemicals in the eyes. It’s not an exact science, I’ll grant you.
So, Ken comes across the city of Eden, which is protected by a wall to prevent anyone from entering without the proper authorisation. Through this and that, Ken becomes a citizen and one of its de facto protectors, an honorary member of The Watch. This being a Ryu Ga Gotoku game there’s clearly more to it than that, but I went in blind and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I recommend that approach.
I can definitely see what people meant when they said that this was unofficially a Yakuza game because it certainly feels familiar. You have the city full of random thugs wanting to beat you up, tons of side quests for the citizenry, a casino, what I’ll refer to as “baseball”, Sega arcade games… The story is funny, heartfelt and twisty-turny in all of the right ways. I got into 123 random fights, defeated 331 foes, and finished the main story in 38 hours and 11 seconds — all sounds Yakuza-like to me! Sure, I could have powered through the story in half that, but I was too busy trying to find all of the substories (I failed) and locate treasure!
See, while it’s definitely a Yakuza-like (or would it be Like A-like these days?) it has its own spin on things. Combat, especially, since neither Kriyu nor Yagami kill their foes — but have you ever seen a clip from the Fist of the North Star anime or a page of the manga? “You’re already dead” is Ken’s catchphrase. I mentioned the deadly effects of Hokuto Shinken but was perhaps underselling them. Because people explode. Literally, the ground will be coated in blood seconds into each battle, as you pull off fancy moves like Hokuto Hundred-Fist Rush or Hokuto Hordebreaker Strike. Sure, much as in Like A Dragon: Ishin! Your foes may sometimes walk away from 100% fatal blows depending on the context of the fight, but my time in Eden filled a couple of mass graves for sure.
I did mention treasure, and that’s something I both like and hate about Lost Paradise. During any given random battle there’s a chance of finding a treasure map, which has a time limit on it. The better the item you’re going to find, the higher its rank, so the shorter the time you have to go and grab it. It’s an annoying percentage of chance, too, since I could go hours without finding any, then at one point literally got three in two back-to-back fights. Since the treasures are outside of the city it can take some time to get there, and you only have 10 minutes (give or take). Worse, it might be in a part of the map you literally cannot access until much later in the game! Some substories are reliant on you finding things using these treasure maps, too!
That (somewhat) minor gripe aside, I really enjoyed Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise. I like a good post-apocalyptic wasteland, and the Yakuza games are definitely a formula that needs using more in my opinion. Sure, there’s a bunch of Trophies which I still haven’t unlocked, but I’m happy with my 38 hours in Eden, and 88.75% substory completion. More like this, please!