I've had some time since downloading the Japanese demo of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (I believe it's Shin Hokuto Musou in Japanese). So let's take a look at it and how it compares to the first one.
Off the bat, the game looks really similar. The biggest difference is the new manga-like cut scenes, which are pretty neat. I wish more of the cut scenes used it, though. Any cut scenes in mid-level will just be regular cut scenes, which doesn't look as nice. Granted, the manga ones look strange since they don't move, but it fits the origin of Fist of the North Star, so I'd like it most of the scenes were in the manga style.
If you've played the first Fist of the North Star or any of the Warriors games, you know how this will play. Thankfully, they have made this one play more like the Warriors games and less like the first FotNS. Yes, they are similar, but Ken's Rage 1 was a lot slower and most characters were good at 1 on 1 fighting, so fighting groups took way to long. Kenshiro, who I felt was one of the worst characters in the first game is now really good. His combos have been changed to have him hit larger groups of enemies. Also, the game just plays faster and the musou attacks, which have sadly lost the kanji and name of the move at the end of the animation, are also faster, leading to a more action friendly game experience. I can't wait to try the rest of the characters.
As mentioned before, the musou attacks have lost the kanji at the end, which was very Fist of the North Star. It does make the fights faster, which is good, and they are still present at the end of the level, when it really matters (because it looks cool). Also at the end of the level, the button sequence is now gone. The only QTE is a single button press at the end. I'm kind of glad they are gone, because it added stress to some of the harder fights.
There's a few other minor changes, such as you now open food and drink boxes instead of smashing them. Characters cannot jump anymore, you get a dodge move that is hopefully better than the one in the first game. The level up screen is different, but being in all Japanese, I'm not sure what I'm doing, so I'll have to wait until the domestic release. Lastly, you only get one musou attack in the demo, so I don't know if you can still equip up to 4 of them, which was really nice. I hope that stays.
As a fan of the Warriors games, I'm very much looking forward to Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 being released next month. I enjoyed the first, but not as much as most of the rest of Koei's games. Just seeing how they changed Kenshiro makes me excited to play the finished product.