Lost Paradise shows how to fix it

Animated video games have become a genre in their own right, and there are countless titles that attempt to emulate the most popular shows. Of course, these encompass quite a few different genres, but there is a recurring problem that seems to crop up with anime games. They’re always so focused on recreating that experience from the anime or manga, instead of daring to try something new or different. This is exactly where Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise comes in, a game that has its fair share of issues, but shows the best way anime games can come out of their doldrums.

Most of the anime games that we see step by step tell the exact same story as their source material, with some gameplay elements added.

This does not mean that there is no titles that try to add something new to the mix, some like Attack on Titan 2 try to add at least new story elements, while Dynasty Warriors Gundam brings together characters from different series for an original story. However, most of them look like half-hearted attempts that still don’t do anything interesting with the characters.

There is no better series to highlight this problem than Dragon Ball, an anime franchise with a ton of acclaimed video games. And yet, how many times have we played through the Saiyan saga, or fought Frieza on Namek, or played through the Cell games. We’ve seen these stories time and time again, even in the Xenoverse games, where you play as a time traveler intervening in said stories.

Lost Paradise breaks with this tradition by adapting the themes and characters of Fist of the North Star into an original story. Fist of the North Star was a very influential manga that began in 1983. For this reason, the storytelling advancements the anime would make in subsequent years just weren’t present in FotNS. By today’s standards, its world-building seems very limited, and you really have no idea how the show’s post-apocalyptic world is built or functions.

The original manga was set from 1983 to 1988, and while it remains a classic, it was laser-focused on battles and action. As a result, it just didn’t benefit from the focus on character development that later series like Yu Yu Hakusho or Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure would.

All of that changes in Lost Paradise, because of the way Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio adapts FotNS into his Yakuza formula. The game really looks like Yakuza dressed up in a Halloween costume, with all the crazy minigames, sub-stories, and hijinks you’d expect from crime and drama video games. For this reason, Lost Paradise is able to develop the characters of FotNS, putting them in new situations and highlighting another side of their personality.

Kenshiro, the main character, in particular, has the most development. Seeing Kenshiro running a cabaret or working as a bartender gives off a wacky side we don’t have already Already seen. He’s still the same muscular martial artist we know and love, but the Yakuza formula gives us a chance to see a softer, more tender side of the character.

Even the characters outside of Kenshiro, like Rei, Toki, and Raoh, are more developed with their roles in the story. Of course, there are also a host of new characters added to the mix, each of which has a distinct Yakuza style.

Basing the game in a new city called Eden, and then building familiar places around it, helps make the FotNS world believable and easier to visualize. There are certainly parallels between Eden and Yakuza’s Kamurocho, but Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has taken serious steps to ensure that Lost Paradise always captures the aesthetic and style of FotNS.

The game brings up a good point about anime games in general: why don’t we use other formulas and adapt the anime to that? I don’t mean just adapting the anime into a fighting game, I mean adapting it into a model that a series uses, like adapting FotNS into the Yakuza model.

It makes more sense to use a proven formula to try to see which anime it might work with, rather than trying to iterate another anime fighting game for the umpteenth time. We see anime hitting the same genres over and over again; action-RPG, fighting game, strategy RPG. But what makes Lost Paradise so refreshing is the way it takes Yakuza’s unique formula and adapts it into something anime games just haven’t done. already seen so far.

This happened around the time Koei Tecmo created Dynasty Warriors Gundam, but they’ve since beaten things up with tons of Musou adaptations for the anime.

It’s the same concept as adaptations of movie games. They should strive to be different rather than just emulating the movie. Lost Paradise shows that this concept works, and thankfully, it’s not the only game to take this approach. One Piece: World Seeker, which we talked about before, is also trying to bring something new to anime games.

One Piece, One Piece: World Seeker

The ambitious title seeks to bring something more, with real care and effort to make it a AAA-level open world game. So far, World Seeker seems a far cry from the typical One Piece game, which usually focuses on just beating enemies in insane ways.

Early gameplay and trailers show that Luffy has traversal abilities that allow him to roam the environment like in Spider-Man or Prototype. World Seeker also takes place in a brand new setting called Jew Island, introducing a cast of new characters as well as returning characters, much like Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise does.

These two games show that anime adaptations can and should strive to be something more. They need to bring something new to the table, not just rehash content that we’ve seen time and time again. Lost Paradise is anything but the perfect game; it has rhythm problems, can be a bit cranky and the buggy controls itself terribly.

Yet for all of its issues, the positives outweigh the negatives, if not just because it looks like something fresh and brand new to anime games.

Taking the Yakuza formula and applying it to FotNS has worked wonders, and One Piece: World Seeker seems to be doing something similar. It’s long past time for anime games to head into uncharted territory and try out styles of play we’ve never seen before, all in the name of innovation.

For even more anime content, you can check out 7 anime like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, another series that shares some striking similarities with Fist of the North Star. You can also take a look at the 7 best anime of October 2018, which you must watch.


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