If you’ve got to ask yourself why we’re doing a Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise Review, it’s too late: you’re already dead. Franchise catchphrases included, Lost Paradise is an incredibly fun action adventure from Ryu ga Gotoku Studio of “Yakuza” game series fame.
Taking place at the confrontation with rival-in-love Shin; Kenshiro finds himself wandering the desert, dying of thirst and saddened to find that his long-lost love Yuria had taken her life.
After saving the lives of some locals, he too is saved in return. It’s then revealed that Yuria may still yet live. Kenshiro is pointed towards the “City of Miracles”; Eden. Eden, as it turns out, has its own share of issues featuring new enemies, allies and a host of familiar faces.
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is available on PlayStation 4 only. Packed with a whole heap of PvE hyper-violence courtesy of the Hokuto Shinken style, intense Boss fights reminiscent of the Yakuza series’ finest and side content that ranges from average to ridiculously enjoyable.
Lost Paradise injects Fist of the North Star with a healthy dose of comedy. That said, it maintains the drama of sad Kenshiro throughout its main plot and hands off its laughs to the mounds of optional content. To find out more about all of that, read on!
How does Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise play?
Gamers familiar with the Yakuza series will be all too familiar with Lost Paradise. From the exploration to the combat, it plays the same way. The bulk of Lost Paradise involves beating wasteland crazies to a pulp using Kenshiro’s Hokuto Shinken techniques.
The remaining time is divvied up between unfortunately sluggish on-foot exploration, crude-but-enjoyable buggy rides out in the wasteland itself and a series of side activities.
Combat consists of multiple enemies trying to kill Kenshiro (you). Surprisingly, in contrast to the Yakuza games, a lot of these enemies are well equipped to kick Kenshiro’s arse if you’re not on the ball with the combination moves.
There’s a distinct lack of crowd control techniques that make this game quite difficult at times.
All that said, Kenshiro has four skills trees to level up in and unlock abilities that’ll add to the already vast library of body-exploding attacks.
They’re Not Already Dead, But They Will Be
The biggest difference between Yakuza and Lost Paradise is Hokuto Shinken. Kenshiro uses a martial art to push pressure points that cause his opponents to violently explode from the inside.
In this game, Hokuto Shinken’s most devastating abilities are assigned to the circle button (PS4). In the beginning, Ken beats foes until they’re in a dazed state called “Meridian Shock”.
When the circle prompt appears above an enemy’s head, that’s when the instant-death techniques can be used in their full, cinematic, gory glory.
It doesn’t take long before the lengthy instant kills become dull, however. Which is why the introduction of quick kills shortly after helps a lot.
Rather than commit to the whole cinematic of a special move – and the tedious quick time events to increase their damage – the quick prompt allows for a second circle input at a specific prompt to make the enemies explode immediately and continue with the flow of combat.
It’s far more natural and gives the player choice, which is very important to me personally.
Sluggish Movement Makes Kenshiro a Sadder Boy
Outside of battle, Lost Paradise largely takes place in Eden. Running around Eden doesn’t feel great at the best of times, but it’s at its worst when Ken “realistically” jogs down steps.
Imagine racing a car on a road with multiple speed-bumps along the way, but no option to skip over them like games would normally provide. These steps, littered around every path in Eden, break the momentum of the movement.
The movement of a character known for his incredible jumping capabilities.
It might seem trivial, but consider how often the game’s plot demands that the player rummages around Eden itself. The final chapter of the game showcases this in a spectacularly-terrible light.
In a series of misguided quest steps for the sake of padding out the finale, Kenshiro must unnecessarily retrace many steps in order to reach a conclusion that could have been provided from the initial point of contact.
The movement of Kenshiro reminds me of the old Yakuza games. Yet, in battle, he feels far more fluid. It’s this sluggishness that makes the side quests less appealing, knowing they might send you across the city through the dreaded Steps of Nonsense.
Bar-tending, Buggy Racing
Though physically getting to these activities can often feel like a chore, the side activities are some of the most fun and frustrating experiences I’ve had in Lost Paradise.
Kenshiro as a bar-tender, using Hokuto Shinken for mixing drinks, is done in that trademark Yakuza style of wacky comedy.
Though it does require the use of quick-time events, two of which are fine, but the third is an unreliable nightmare.
Tending bar unlocks a series of interesting side stories and earns Ken some IDL (money in-game). It’s my favourite distraction from the story.
Racing the Wasteland Buggy is fun, but upgrading it can be a nuisance. Fortunately, the standard buggy is mostly all that’s needed to progress in the main story.
That said, it being optional makes it oddly more appealing. Ryu ga Gotoku Studios have never had much luck with their driving mini-games. Though the buggy physics are hilariously bad, they’re functional and fun enough all the same.
Gambling and Prize-Fighting
Gambling bored me personally, but the Casino is there. Play various card games to trade winnings for prizes. Surprisingly, the Coliseum is very low on my interest list.
In the Yakuza games, I loved getting into the Octagon and taking on opponents.
Sadly, in Lost Paradise, the benefits of the arena are relegated to points earned for trading. Experience can’t be earned and that makes the whole thing a bit of a time sink.
That said, the one-on-one fights are still pretty cool. If just by virtue of the Yakuza combat mechanics still being a joy to engage with.
Presentation and Graphics
The presentation of Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise is awesome. It hosts a full, quality English dub. Given the vast amount of dialogue in-game, that’s impressive.
That combined with the dramatic, cinematic story-telling that drips with the testosterone-driven Fist of the North Star at its core makes for a hell of a combination in the presentation department.
It’s not that the graphics are particularly impressive. They’re not. Especially compared to this year’s Yakuza 6 or Yakuza Kiwami 2 from the same studio.
It is, however, a great execution of the license itself and shows an affection for the Fist of the North Star franchise.
In a time of cheap cash-ins (looking at you My Hero One’s Justice), Lost Paradise is a refreshing reminder that somebody out there cares about the license they hold.
Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise primarily involves its meaty Story Mode. Upon completion – I put a straight run through at around 10-20 hours – the Endless mode unlocks.
Endless mode, a recent tradition of the Yakuza games, provides access to the game world without the story constraints. Less pressure; more fun.
New Game Plus can also be played along with an Extra Hard difficulty where death means it’s the end of the game entirely.
Outside of that, there’s also the Gallery to view all of the fantastic cut-scenes without having to replay the game.
Should You Play Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise?
In short, yes. Despite the few nuisances of movement and questionable pacing in the endgame, Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Comical in its hyper-violence yet deliciously melodramatic in its plot.
Ryu ga Gotoku Studios applies its tried-and-true Yakuza formula to a franchise that shares its penchant for brawling.
Though it’s nowhere close to the level of Yakuza 6, Lost Paradise is an eye-opening experience that this studio is capable of applying their unique style to other stories. Be it their own or another’s license.
Admittedly, there’s some tolerance required. It’s unapologetically graphic in its violence, the buggy doesn’t drive the way you would want it to and getting around Eden on foot can be an annoying slog.
But none of the negatives makes the combat less fulfilling. Nor does it take away from the excellent alternative story that leads on from the defeat of Shin.
Kenshiro’s quest to find Yuria is captivating and the supporting character he meets along the way are all worthy participants in a story that deserves to be seen.
Gamers who will suit this game…
Gamers familiar with the Yakuza games will find much to love about Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise.
If you’re unfamiliar with Yakuza, consider a 3D Streets of Rage. An all-out brawler with proper story elements and fun side content.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Great story and presentation of it.||Sluggish movement when exploring on foot.||Nothing of note|
|Fulfilling combat in the mid-to-late game.||Questionable pacing in the later chapters of the story.|
|Genuinely hilarious side activities.||Occasionally awkward to connect the instant kill abilities due to over-crowding in battle.|
|Full, quality English dub.|
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About This Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise Review
Game Reviewed: Fist of the North Star Lost Paradise standard edition, retail copy
Review Format: PS4
PEGI Rating: 18