Fist of the North Star
At a Glance: Long before The Bouncer, Fist of the North Star set the standard for mediocre brawlers by being utterly terrible and therefore much worse than mediocre. In this review I will attempt to show you how miserable your life would have been if you were one of the 5 overweight anime fans who bought this game in 1986. For maximum effect, don't view this computer simulation of what you'd probably look like today until you're finished reading.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 32k
Game Plot: This game is based on an anime which is evidently about walking forward and making millions of identical people explode. If there's one thing we can learn from Fist of the North Star, it's that even the best anime idea in the world won't necessarily translate into a good video game, especially if the game exists in the 1980's where there's 9 in 10 chance of it being an incoherent crapfest made by a Japanese company that's employees are too busy taking over major U.S. corporations to worry about whether or not their pixels resemble any lifeforms or objects that have ever existed in the known universe.
There are wrecked buildings everywhere, so maybe this is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland where you're a gay archangel trying to defend Jesus' orphanage from nomadic tribes of shirtless male flight attendants. At least that's the plot I came up with after playing Fist of the North Star nonstop until I blacked out and woke up in a McDonalds bathroom holding a cocktail napkin with crudely written plans to pee in Anna Nicole Smith's mailbox. The game is based on Japanese animation, so it can't be that far off.
Enemies: All of the enemies are just palette swaps of the same sprite, which is just a slightly modified version of the main character. And since this is an 8-bit game, the term "palette swap" refers to all of about 4 colors, resulting in enemies with appearances ranging from "creepy massage guy" to "homosexual Japanese bodybuilder". All the guys you're supposed to fight dart around the screen like retarded monkeys and shoot projectiles in completely random directions. I actually thought I had walked onto a Counterstrike server at one point.
The more ROMs I play, the more I can appreciate these Japanese developers' brilliant plan to make shitty games and hope no one would notice until 17 years later, by which point they'd have long since retired with the billions of yen they saved by staffing their art department with homeless schizophrenics who had collectively seen 3 people and 2 buildings their entire lives. It also makes me glad I didn't own a Nintendo as a kid, since I'm pretty sure the games preserved in these ROMs ruined more lives in the 80's than heroin addiction and extreme drag racing accidents combined.
Weapons: Just a punch and a kick, because only wusses and their 3 billion identical friends use projectile attacks. It doesn't really matter which move you use since all of the enemies die with one hit. You can even make people explode by punching them in the groin. How any game could have such an incredible feature and still suck as hard as Fist of the North Star is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Oh, and it's impossible to die, so everything I just said about using the punch and kick buttons is strictly optional. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself even though I have yet to play through this game without stopping every few seconds to enact brutal street justice on some evil lifeguard clone's groin.
When you kick it makes a noise similar to a baby squirrel choking on a wind-up toy that completely scares the hell out of me. I don't know who it was that decided kicking air molecules needed to make a sound, but they're a total dickhead. So if you're reading this, sound effects asshole, mark my words; you will eventually be tracked down and forced to pay for my therapy sessions, followed by a punch to the balls that will propel you into a nearby volcano.
Number of Levels: There are 5 levels, two of which the developers even made distinguishable by using different colored brick textures. The objective of each stage is to traverse a maze by walking through doorways where a little anime girl appears for a fraction of a second. If this sounds like your idea of exciting gameplay then you should probably consult a heart physician before attempting to punch the monkey at the top of this page. The final maze is approximately the size of Nebraska, but thanks to the internet being a sick fucking catastrophe I found a Fist of the North Star strategy guide and beat the game in 8 minutes, which is still at least 2 more minutes than Toei spent coding it.
Number of Bosses: Some sort of miscommunication between the enemy designers and the people in charge of making the main character invincible resulted in there being bosses, including 3 more palette swaps of the enemy sprite and a fat guy who could've been the sole highlight of this game if you got to ride around on his back like Yoshi after defeating him. The game had one final chance to redeem itself by at least using a different sprite for the last boss, but instead it just took the standard sprite and made it bigger. So until additional centuries of human evolution and/or a Jewish media conspiracy create a sexual fetish for kicking the crap out of a giant, shirtless clone of yourself, the final boss battle sucks ass.
Defining Moment: Definitely the terrible graphics and the fact that a single sprite comprises roughly 51% of the game. Incidentally, a sequel to Fist of the North Star is underway where players will use a first-person perspective to unleash devastating groin attacks on giant 3-dimensional pixels while walking through detailed polygonal renditions of badly drawn buildings. This game and its instruction manual are currently in development under the working titles of "The Best Game Ever" and "Bible II", respectively.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).