FIST OF THE NORTH STAR: LOST PARADISE
The cult manga goes Yakuza crazy
You wait for years for a Yakuza game, then they all come at once. Whether you’d count Lost Paradise among them is another matter. Stick with the English voices, and you could assume this is just the latest game adaptation of Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s cult manga. But switch to Japanese and you’ll instantly recognise that muscle-bound protagonist Kenshire shares a voice with the Dragon Of Dojima.
Both men share a tough exterior and unshaking drive to protect the vulnerable from the villains of the world. Lost Paradise’s chapter-based structure also unfolds mostly in a single city hub, complete with side-quests and other distractions, while you’re occasionally assailed by ruffians who have no idea who they’re starting on.
The stark difference is that whereas Kiryu’s brutal lessons for his assailants are non-lethal, Kenshiro’s mastery of the deadly Hokuto Shinken martial art means he’s effortlessly murdering mohawked punks within seconds of the game’s opening, and the bodies keep piling up – or rather, exploding into a messy shower of gore.
If you find Yakuza’s slapstick brawling its least appealing aspect, this gleeful ultra-violence can be offputting. Even as a guilty pleasure, once you’ve popped a hundred heads with the same few QTE channelling techniques, it quickly gets old, though timing e presses just right to insta-kill enemies with a ‘perfect channeling’ is the more efficient way to go.
WHAT A WASTE(LAND)
Yet while your overpowered character can make combat a walkover until you reach the bosses with ridiculous guard resistance, it’s not without irritations. In crowded battles, there’s an awful tendency to swing at the wrong person (frustrating when you’re trying to target someone susceptible to channelling), while often a strike prompt appears, only to vanish. Despite running at 60fps, there’s a sluggishness to Kenshiro’s movements, not helped by the game running on an engine that feels ancient coming after Yakuza 6 and Kiwami 2 in the same year.
But what’s really missing from Lost Paradise is Yakuza’s charm. It does have its wacky moments, particularly when Kenshiro puts on a tux to mix cocktails at the bar, which requires you to shake your DualShock furiously, or if you decide to put your Hokuto skills to healing people at a clinic via a frankly bizarre rhythm game. But you only need to a walk a block around Eden’s drab environments to see that it’s no Kamurocho – and nuclear fallout’s not entirely to blame.
Things get even more forgettable when you roam beyond the city walls in a dull wasteland, driving a beaten-up dune buggy that’s only worthwhile if you fancy listening to music from other Sega games. It’s a reminder you could be playing far better games instead.
While you can’t grab objects as weapons, you can batter foes with their own death cries.
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