Game Size: 128K
Game Type: 2d Brawler/Fighting game
Other Ways to Play: Original Japan Mk3 version as Fist of the North Star. Wikpedia mentions it being on Nintendo Virtual Console but it is not listed for the Wii or 3DS.
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 Button Pad Capable.
Price I Paid: 6 Dollars
Price I Would Pay: 5 Dollars
Condition: Game, Case
Game Rating: BAD
My History: Bought a couple months before the project began.
(First 5 screenshots are from the Genesis)
Stage 1 Grunt enemies with some life restoring sushi in the air. Confusing no?
One of the first stage mini bosses. All but one of these guys are generally pretty easy, with a two pack on the last scrolling stage a bit of a chore.
Stage 1 Boss. He hates being punched in the face.
Stage 2 Boss. He throws wussy boomerangs at you. Here Riki is doing a Fist of the North Star multi hit finishing move on him because the game is a reskin of a license game.
(Next three images are from a Master System)
SMS flicker in effect!
Kega Fusion shots are the remaining images
In Black Belt you play reskinned Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star Riki out to walk left and right through 5 levels of punching and kicking.
The basic gameplay involves a button to kick, one to punch, and depending on how you press the control pad two levels of jumping. (This sort of thing will hurt a lot of games in the 80s.) Most of the time you walk right kicking and punching one hit grunts who show up in as many numbers as they can without causing too much flicker.
Sadly these main gameplay stages are simple looking, but a nice parallax scrolling trick helps it not be too ugly looking. But outside of beating up baddies the only obstacle is managing a down pad/up pad combo press to jump up to grab life restoring sushi or the other floating object ( a Japanese glyph) which gives you a number of invulnerable hits. Of course these objects are floating quickly by . Score gives you a number of extra lives which you WILL need because there are no continues and the other gameplay section all but require as many as you can get.
While during the scrolling part of each level have a few mini bosses that are mostly easily killed, the six end bosses (one for each level and then the final boss) are really the opposite.
Like I am talking cheesy and unfair. Like Mortal Kombat or King of Fighters endboss levels of complete BS buggery. Even using some save states to give the bosses some practice wasn't helping after a point.
The first boss is easily figured out once you realize punching him in the face is all you need to do. The second is a pushover. But then the Sumo dude on the third level shows you what the game has in store for you. You are dead in three or four hits while you have to either exploit broken game AI, or figure out just exactly what you have to do. Bosses 3-6 really are unfair! In fact the fifth requires you to figure out that you have to use a set of attacks in order, then repeat it.
This is bad game design. No real clues, merely exploiting the AI because it doesn't even have patterns to memorize. It just makes a 15 minute game of walking to the right and hitting things that explode into triangle parts almost unbearable as you are forced to replay things over and over and over until you figure out how to defeat each boss, have someone tell you how, or throw the cartridge out the window out of sheer frustration and repetition.
It is just.. half a game. I have heard that most Master System games were programmed and released in three or four months. By 1986 this really just wasn't going to cut it on consoles. While cheaply priced UK microcomputer games could get away with this over there this just doesn't work on games you have to pay five times or more the cost for.
No platforms to jump or environments to explore. Just brutally unfair bosses after some time walking across a flat plane punching or kicking some dudes.
What's sad is the graphics aren't bad and neither is the control outside of the jumping being a bit of a pain to do. The sound is ok, and the game feels solid to play. But.. the bosses and the sheer lack of anything to do or see kill this game.
Master System Play: It plays fine on the Master System. While the images are of course a bit color bleed happy as the MS normally is, everything is clearly visible. The Master System Pad plays well as does the 6 Button Genesis. The Epyx 500xj plays this well too. The Master System Control Stick is terrible, being almost incapable of making forward jumps, which you NEED to be able to do to fight some of the bosses. The Genesis Power Stick plays it fantastic.
So... I am sad to say but the game is BAD. It just doesn't have anything to offer outside of frustration. It isn't completely awful but it just isn't worth anyone's time now if it was even worth it then.
Next Review: Another game much like this one. VIGILANTE. Will it be better? Let's find out in two weeks eh?