The Yakuza series, or Ryu Ga Gotoku in Japan, has become one of Sega’s biggest cult hits. Even prior to spinning off with Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, Sega had previously released Yakuza spin off games in Japan, Kenzan and Ishin, as Japanese historical takes on the franchise. Considering that Sega has made some Hokuto no Ken, or Fist of the North Star games in the past, using the engine for Ryu Ga Gotoku 0 and the first Kiwami game felt like a perfect opportunity to see both the Yakuza and Fist of the North Star franchises from a new angle.
If there is anything that the Yakuza franchise does best is its unique selection of side-quests or mini-games. For starters, yes, you can play at the arcade but when you get a treasure map, you can explore the outside wasteland in a buggy to find that arcade game on a treasure hunt. There are instances where that treasure could be an arcade cabinet of OutRun or Hang-On! In some instances, you can also get Hokuto no Ken for the Mark III, or the Master System outside of Japan! Or you can run a night club, or work as a bartender. With some drinks, you have to mix, pick an ice cube, or shake. If you need to make a quick buck, then you can work as a bounty hunter. And yes, there is a fighting arena where you can also hone your skills and win some awesome prizes!
2. Excellent Voice Cast
Despite the Yakuza series exclusively keeping the Japanese audio track since the release of its second game, Lost Paradise actually features an English dub! We can say for certain that it’s far superior to the dub of the first game. However, the original Japanese audio, maintains the voice cast from the Yakuza series. For starters, Takaya Kuroda, the voice of Kiryu, voices Ken. His performance as Ken equals that of the original anime’s seiyuu, Akira Kamiya. He captures Ken’s kindness to the innocent, and his malice for the wicked. And yes, he can both masterfully capture Ken’s battle cries of WATATATATATATATA and omae wa mou shinde-iru, or you’re already dead.
In addition, Kazuhiro Nakatani, the voice of Nishiki, is very convincing as Shin, who fans can say are accurate parallels to each other. And for hardcore fans of both franchises, it was only natural to conclude that Hidenari Ukagi, the voice of Goro Majima, to be the voice of Jagi. For Japanese speakers, it just feels unnatural to hear him speak in standard Japanese as opposed to Osaka dialect. The same applies to Masami Iwasaki, the voice of Ryuuji from the second Yakuza game, as Raoh.
3. Kick Ass Combat System
The combat of the main Yakuza games have always been known for their extremities. Thankfully, they take that system and apply it to Hokuto no Ken. Everything you wanted to see with Hokuto Shinken is gracefully portrayed in this game. It has an excellent leveling up system, burst modes, and knows how to correctly set up iconic moves such as the Hokuto Hyaku Restsu Ken. If you want to kick ass and take names, Lost Paradise if for you!
3. The Hostess Mini-Game is Weak
Just like in some previous installments to Yakuza, as Kenshiro, you can run a nightclub. You pick the right hostesses for a certain job and pair a customer with that hostess. Furthermore, you can also run around town recruiting young ladies to work for you. This version in Lost Paradise does get the bare minimum down in that sense. Unfortunately, there’s no customization with the hostesses like in 0 or Kiwami 2 that goes to a really pleasant song. And worst of all, THE HOSTESSES ARE NOT MODELED OR VOICED BY SEXY ACTRESSES OR GRAVURE MODELS!
2. Could Have Used More Scenes from the Manga
Considering how many characters are introduced in this game from the original manga, some of them feel more like glorified cameos. Rin is reduced to a mini-game and she has no significant contribution to the story. Mamiya is another perfect example who is just a glorified cameo. Toki does play a role, but it would have also been nice to also include his fights with Raoh from the series. Heck, it would have been awesome to see Raoh’s manly death scene from the manga in this game as well.
1. Little to No Man Tears
If there is one thing that the original Fist of the North Star manga popularized, it was man tears. Yes, Fist of the North Star is known as the manliest of manga for men, but every now and then, Kenshiro would cry to reflect on his failures and it gave readers a glimpse of his humanity. He’s overpowered as you can get, but he can’t be everywhere at once and at times, people do die and he feels for them. The fact we don’t get enough man tears scenes in this game just doesn’t feel complete.
Overall, fans of both the Ryu Ga Gotoku and/or Hokuto no Ken franchises are going to get the ultimate kick out of this game. We are positive that along with its fans, that Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios can offer a follow up. Hopefully, the next installment can reenact scenes from the manga such as Ken’s final fight with Raoh. Or maybe, we can play as more than one character. Maybe next time, we get to play as Rei or Toki just like how the 4th and 5th Ryu Ga Gotoku games lets you play as more than one character. With the overwhelming fan response, we can only hope.