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Old 02-08-2003, 04:47 PM   #65
Icarus4578
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Last Battle - Sega Genesis - Rating 3
This is actually Fist of the North Star (Hokuto No Kenshiro), a well-known manga series in Japan that was made into a great anime movie and series, and then (believe it or not) a live-action movie in America much later. I don't know why Sega changed the name to Last Battle. Perhaps it had to do with licensing or something else.
When I first played it, I thought it was truly great. It had cool characters, bosses, graphics and it was challenging. Then again, back in the day, wasn't pretty much everything cool the first time you played it? Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Ghouls 'N Ghosts, etc. were all very cool games and what was especially appealing was the fact that you were playing games on a machine that was like having your own mini-arcade at home. Hell, when I wasn't playing my Genesis (or TG16) I was staring at the boxes and reading game manuals just for the pleasure of it. How often does that kind of thing happen nowadays?
Anyway, Last Battle hasn't stood the test of time that well. What was once impressive is now dull at best, with run of the mill stage scrolling, beat 'em up action that doesn't play that well (bad collision detection, cheap hits that can make you literally bounce off one enemy into another, etc.) and was in fact done better by such games as Kung Fu, Vigilante, and many others. The game is divided into 4 chapters and each is composed of a map where you move around to different areas, boss fights, and dungeons. You're given a health meter and a power meter which builds slowly as you beat enemies. When the power meter reaches a quarter full, Kenshiro (his real Japanese name) bulges out his muscles, ripping off his upper-clothing and his attacks become faster and more powerful. If you clear a chapter and lose in another you can continue by holding A+B+C at the title screen and pressing start, then select the chapter where you died. The stages, as I mentioned, are divided into regular areas (which are just side-scrolling beat 'em up action, some with mid-bosses), to mid-boss areas, and the dungeons. The dungeons play similar to China Warrior (that cheesy TG16 beat 'em up) in that there are various objects being flung at you from out of nowhere, and a few enemies here and there. They're rather dull, though the idea itself is actually good for this kind of game and would've been much better without all the stupid things like small stones falling out of nowhere, axes being flung like boomerangs and boulders rolling around (you can hit them all). And the only beneficial thing about dungeons is that when you enter rooms with enemies you beat them up to regain some health. And of course there are the bosses which consist of rather stupid attack patterns and are not very fun to fight. Sometimes you'll hit them but it will not count as a hit if they're about to attack you. In fact, most enemies are rather stupid to even look at due to lack of animation (in chapters 2 and 3, when you fight on the boats and those guys are coming after you with the knives extended towards you, and the only thing that ever animates is their legs - 2 frames - that's just wrong). Then again, the entire game is a sparse 4-MEGS and the characters are pretty sizeable. The game actually doesn't look bad, but the lack of animation hurts it (as does the gameplay).
The music is nothing special, though if you stay in a dungeon area too long you might find the song sitting in your head for a while. The sound effects are weak even for Genesis, although Kenshiro's yell "AAAA-TAAA!!!" when he is finishing off a boss with a zillion punches is nice, and in the Japanese version, when a boss was finished off they'd bulge out and explode into blood. Don't get too excited because it wasn't all guts and such flying out everywhere. Then again, that's not really exciting.
Just in case you don't know, Fist of the North Star is an ultra-violent series, and when this game came out in Japan there was quite a bit of gore. Obviously, Sega of America wasn't too keen on releasing it in the US with all the violence (this was before Mortal Kombat, although if you wanted you could go buy movies like Rambo and Terminator and it was considered entertainment for the whole family) and games were mostly considered to be kid's stuff (and many still believe that). However, in the end it doesn't matter -- Last Battle is lacking in depth, fun factor and even good control. Go play something else like Streets of Rage 2. While you're at it, go out and buy the Fist of the North Star movie (Japanese, of course).

Last edited by Icarus4578; 03-13-2004 at 08:40 AM.
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