I would first like to take this moment to thank the wonderful Blue Williams for stepping in on my behalf two weeks ago and producing the best WedNESday to date. Such a tough act to follow I needed to take an additional week off. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Seriously though, give her a follow and read her entry. There is no one better in this industry, possibly the world, than her. I mean that.
So, here we go.
Some months back I reviewed Fist Of The North Star: Paradise Lost and it was a great experience. However, did you know the NES also had a North Star game? Oh yes. Let’s learn of the birth of the dab and the simplest looking deep fighting game to ever exist. That last part was super embellished.
We’ve all had that relative that would show up on a random Christmas or birthday every couple of years. You know the one; cool enough to bring you awesome stuff but creepy to where your parents never left you alone with them. What? Just me? Pretend you understand then. Anyway, my uncle would show up every so often and he’d usually give me games for consoles I didn’t own. One of those guys. Still, he got to visit China at some point, or Japan, I don’t know, he said it was a slanted eye place. Hey! I never said he was a good dude. If that offended, find solace in that he drank himself into a very early grave. On one of his visits, he gave me one of those hacked cartridges that had like 500 games or whatever.
One of those games was Fist Of The North Star.
The anime and manga tells the story of a radically destroyed earth that has turned into a wasteland. Kenshiro, the main character, travels this degraded and malnutrition world and becomes a positive force in helping it heal as he searches for his beloved. This game takes a small piece of that and had Ken return after those events to help a now older Bat and Rin as they lead an army after the death of the ruler has left things in disarray. Your goal was to stop the Four Generals of Gento and their leader Falco the Gold. I did not know any of this until last year when I played Paradise Lost.
The game plays like most NES games, a side-scrolling beat ’em up that has you engaging enemies as you proceed forward. After doing the Electric Slide over to the end of a stage, you’ll fight the boss. Collecting stars from fallen enemies gives you power, you have a health bar, and when you jump you perform the dab. That’s right haters before we were dabbing on you Kenshiro was pioneering it. Speaking on those stars, it’s been a long time so be patient with my memory, I believe there were different colored ones that offered you different power-ups. In the manga and anime, Kenshiro is a master of a martial arts style called Hokuto Shinken.
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How could the NES demonstrate this bloody and cool fighting style with its limitations?
They did a pretty creative thing by increasing the speed in which he attacks, similar to how Street Fighter would do it with E. Honda and Chun-Li. Also, for whatever reason, the enemies seemed to attack slower and never put up a challenge. The 2018 version made you feel like a deity by constantly throwing challenging enemies and encounters towards you and by making sure you always felt tough and capable. This 1989 entry just overpowered you.
Why did I keep playing it? What caught my eye about it? I’m not really sure. I started playing it because I accidentally selected it, was trying to click Final Fantasy I believe. In all honesty, I would just keep coming back to it because of how funny he looked jumping in the air and how easy it was to me as a side-scrolling game. Kenshiro losing his shirt when he powered up, the enemy designs, and the interesting things with the stars kept bring me back. Sometimes there isn’t an elaborate story or deep gameplay mechanics that bring you back, sometimes it’s just fun to run around a game that empowers you.
You see, even if I was always picked last because I wasn’t good at sports, lived in my own bubble because no one wanted to interact with me, and didn’t have all the answers to the questions asked in class. It didn’t matter because I’d go home and play an easy game that made me feel special, like 1989’s Fist Of The North Star, and a rough day would transform into a decent one.
Did any of you play Fist Of The North Star on NES? Let me know if you have any memories on it. Thanks for reading this and remember to give Mrs. Williams a follow and tell her how great she is.
What’s that? Of course, I beat Fist Of The North Star on NES. I played that game so many times that I knew it like the back of my hand. My cousins would even come by and sit around and watch me play it.