Last Battle

Platform:  Sega Megadrive

Developed by:  Sega

UK Distributor:  Sega

ELSPA rating: N/A

Original Retail Price (SRP):  39.99

Current Value:  3 (approx.)

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

Unbeknownst to many there was a computer game based on Fist of the North Star released on the Sega Megadrive in the UK back in the early '90's.  The reason why many people don't know this is because the decision was made to rebrand the game as Last Battle due to the (at the time) unknown status of the anime it was based on.  This lead to many other superficial changes, such as the removal of references to the Fist of the North Star martial art and new character names all round - the main character for example loses the 'weird foreign sounding name' Kenshiro and becomes, errr, Aarzak...

Decisions like this don't bode well for a decent game, and any fears are well and truly confirmed when you play it.  When you boot it up you get the traditional warning and Sega logo, followed immediately by an exceedingly tedious and dodgily translated text crawl explaining the plot - which basically boils down to you having to kick the crap out of a lot of people in order to save the world - before being dumped unceremoniously straight into the game itself.  No title screen, no options, no demo, just a brief screen of the 'Aarzak' sprite ripping off his shirt and throwing some punches against a black background with the words 'Legend of the Final Hero' above his head.  Ah well, you think, the game may still be good!  But NO!  Appalling graphics, awful character animation (Aarzak has six moves - punch, kick and the jumping and crouching equivalents - which have about two frames of animation each), annoying music, laughable sound effects and rubbish collision detection are what typifies the game.  A typical level consists of walking slowly along, punching (or if you're feeling adventurous, kicking) the identical enemies who fly off the screen with one hit, avoiding some obvious traps and meeting a character at the end of the level with whom you'll share some exciting pearls of wisdom along the lines of this exciting exchange:

Shakespeare it ain't.

 Once the level is complete you are taken to a map screen and allowed to choose the next level, which is often very similar to that you just passed unless you pick a boss level.  Boss levels pit you against a powerful boss character and is where the games limitations are painfully acute.  Firstly the dodgy collision detection makes half your attacks completely ineffectual, secondly your sluggish speed makes avoiding the enemies hits incredibly difficult, and thirdly when your energy bar reaches zero that's it.  Game Over.  No lives, no continues, just one energy bar and a swift return to the Sega logo, from which you restart the game again from scratch.

These factors make the game infuriatingly difficult and despite the challenge this provides most gamers will lose interest long before finding out what else the game has to offer.  There are hints at better things to come later on, a power bar which occasionally increases when a level is completed may mean some of Kenshiro's, sorry, 'Aarzak's', trademark moves turn up as the game progresses, but this is unlikely given the limitations of the game at the outset.  Also, because of the single life it looks like you would have to complete the game in one sitting, and not only does the game have a surprisingly large number of levels, but it's absolute crap too.

Some gamers may find the level of difficulty is the kind of challenge that will cause them to persevere, and it can't be denied that completing the game would be an achievement, yet the terrible controls and appalling gameplay just leeches the enjoyment from it.  Considering that both Streets of Rage and Golden Axe were available on the console around the same time period this was released, the only thing Last Battle really had to fall back on was the Fist of the North Star license, but with the UK release stripped of that it stands as little more than a curio with limited appeal to all but the most masochistic of fans.


Game:   Extras: N/A

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