Fist of the North Star Hands-On

Sega and Arc System Works show off their new Fist of the North Star 2D game, which plays with a similar graphic style to Guilty Gear X.

At the 43rd Amusement Machine Show currently taking place in Japan, Sega showed off its new 2D fighting game that's based on the classic Fist of the North Star anime series. The game runs on Sammy's Atomiswave platform and is slated for operation in Japanese arcades this winter.

Fist of the North Star is being developed by Guilty Gear X's Arc System Works, and, in fact, the game features a very similar graphic style. The characters are drawn in an anime style that takes advantage of the Atomiswave's high resolution, and they move pretty smoothly, much like Guilty Gear X. It's safe to say that Arc System Works and Fist of the North Star is somewhat of a match made in heaven, since the art style adopted from Guilty Gear X does a perfect job in bringing the Fist of the North Star's anime atmosphere into a fighting game.

Ten characters were available for play at the show: Kenshiro, Raou, Thouther, Rei, Toki, Shin, Juda, Heart, Jagi, and Mamiya. It's undoubtedly been a difficult task for Arc System Works to pick which characters to put in the game, considering there are a lot of popular characters in Fist of the North Star. The developer apparently chose some of the most popular characters and those with unique looks. It even managed to convincingly fit in a female character, a surprising addition considering the original anime was all about brutish fist-to-fist combat between men with overgrown muscles.

Fist of the North Star plays much like your standard fighting game, and it's based on traditional ground battles, unlike the Guilty Gear X series, where half the action takes place in midair. The game uses an eight-direction joystick and five buttons: two for punches, two for kicks, and one for special attacks. The game features many actions that advanced players can take advantage of, such as "boost," which lets players buffer a normal attack with a dash, and a defensive maneuver, called "yoroke cancel" (stagger cancel), where the player can quickly recover from a position from where he or she might be getting hit.

Aside from the usual life meter and power meter, Fist of the North Star features three additional bars: the boost meter, aura meter, and North Star indicator. Both the boost meter and aura meter fill up whenever you either attack or get hit, but while the boost meter is used for offensive actions, the aura meter is used for defensive maneuvers. Interestingly, super attacks deplete the aura meter instead of the boost meter, which is probably a sign that the developer designed the game to play aggressively. The North Star indicator is the game's adoption of Guilty Gear X's instant kill system. Right below your life meter, there are seven glittering icons that represent the stars of the Big Dipper constellation. Certain attacks in the game, usually the more useless or the slower moves, can chip your stars when you get hit. When they all disappear, you'll be prone to instant kill attacks that can knock you out in a single hit.

With a fully featured game system and a cast of popular characters, Fist of the North Star should be a treat to both hardcore fighting gamers and fans of the original anime series.

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