The co-op takes place in Dream Mode, so named because the plots of these levels do not follow the canon of the series, instead offering insight into background and side stories. Dream Mode allows for two players to play at the same time, though only locally; sorry, online co-op fans. The screen splits vertically, and players have full freedom to explore as they wish, without tethering to their partner. The Dynasty Warriors influence is much stronger in Dream Mode, with larger free roaming levels. Areas can be captured and controlled to increase fighting effectiveness. There are generally more AI characters fighting alongside you in Dream Mode than in Legend Mode, too. This will feel very familiar to Dynasty Warriors veterans.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage is a very pretty game, at least when you focus on the hero models. Ken, Rei, and the gang have never looked so good. Muscles bulge everywhere, spiky hairdos abound, and as you fight, costume pieces rip and fall off. If only the rest of the graphics were as good; the enemies are very repetitive, and the levels themselves are bland, especially when you see the same bits and pieces over and over again. This highlights one of the biggest problems with Ken's Rage: it is pretty much the same thing, from start to finish. Each level feels like it takes just a bit too long, and even with a co-op partner, it gets very tedious. It's one of those games you'll pull out for a couple hours here and there, but never for an all-night marathon session.
Additional issues I had with Ken's Rage are the boss fights and ofttimes clunky controls. There's a moderate variety in the powers and abilities of bosses, but most of them are very, very difficult, especially compared to the rank and file goons who otherwise populate the game. Even finishing moves do comparatively little damage to them. When you do finish a boss off, you have to perform a button mashing quick-time event. Failure means the boss regains a sizable percentage of health. It's very frustrating to wear a boss down slowly, then miss one button in the QTE and ruin it. The controls aren't well suited to a 3D brawler; slow animations and the lack of a targeting system mean many times your hero will perform spine-crushing attacks exactly where you don't want to. Fighting doesn't feel fluid and combos are sporadic, which is not ideal when the hand to hand combat is absolutely the focus of the game.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage isn't a great game, but it isn't terrible, either. The draws here are watching the blood spurt and the crazy finishing moves, and these over-the-top elements are provided in spades. But the repetition gets stale very quickly, and the boss fights and iffy controls drag the game down further. The co-op is acceptable, but the lack of online and Legend mode partner play are really a shame. Ken's Rage will still remain strong until a truly great game based on his story comes along.
The Co-Op Experience: Two couch co-op buddies take on a pedestrian 3D brawler, though an ocean of blood and gore keep it fun in short bursts.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.