Giant Bomb Review

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No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle Review

4
  • Wii

Grasshopper Manufacture punches you square in the nose with this double-live gonzo action sequel that's leaner, faster, and--in a feat that borders on the impossible--crazier than the original No More Heroes.


  No More Heroes 2 is the video-game equivalent of an exploding middle finger.
As Grasshopper Manufacture's logo loads up at the start of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, it's prefaced with some chunky 8-bit text letting you know "PUNX NOT DEAD." The veracity of this credo is debatable, but it clearly informs the overall attitude of this inventively trashy and giddily self-referential bloodbath of a game. No More Heroes 2 shares this spirit with its predecessor, though it's learned a few things in the interim, sanding down some of the less aerodynamic parts and replacing them with even more attitude. At a certain point the three-chord structure can wear a little thin even for those that are in on the joke, but sometimes you just need something loud, passionate, and crazy to cleanse the palette.

Following in the footsteps of other unnecessary sequels before it, No More Heroes 2 basically pushes the reset button on our hero, the self-made assassin Travis Touchdown, ginning up a new excuse for him to break out his trusty beam katana and murder his way to the top of the United Assassins Association ranks with the help of his cold and presumably duplicitous agent Sylvia. The game actually maintains continuity with the first game, featuring a number of returning characters and unresolved story threads, though it correctly assumes that, if the person holding the controller didn't play the first game, it's a waste of time to try and explain what the hell is going on. This is a game where, if it'll save time, a character will plainly state that video-game players don't care about backstory, implicating the player with a glance towards the camera.

So his reasons for the unmitigated bloodshed are a little more personal this time around, but the overall structure of Travis Touchdown's mission remains the same, pushing his way through deliberately chunky and garish environments filled with cannon fodder before facing off with the next ranked assassin in an over-the-top boss battle. Your first fight is against a hip-hop-label-owner-turned-cult-leader with a Scottish accent and robotic arms that turn into a deadly boombox. From there, it gets kinda weird.

 In a self-aware nod to lazy sequel design, Travis can wield TWO beam katanas this time.
If you played the first No More Heroes, you'll slip right back into the controls, which demand that you mash on the A button with wild abandon to hack away at your enemies while trying to make precise use of your dodge and block abilities, occasionally whipping the Wii Remote and nunchuk around to perform one of Travis's wrestling-inspired finishing moves. A Classic Controller option has been added, which is great for players with motion-control allergies, and it clearly points to the series' future on platforms other than the Wii. I actually found that I ever-so-slightly preferred the little visceral flair that the occasional curt gesture adds to the action, though I also find that the Classic Controller feels a little cramped in my hands. Oh, also, you can now randomly, and inexplicably, turn into a man-eating tiger, making you invincible and giving you one-hit kills for a short time. There is literally no justifiable reason for Grasshopper to add this to No More Heroes 2, other than they probably thought it would be awesome. Turns out, it totally is.

No More Heroes 2 aims higher with its outlandish boss battles than the first game did, though it eases up on the overall difficulty, making health items more plentiful and boss fights a little less drawn out. There are some structural improvements as well. Gone is the crappy open-world navigation of the first game, replaced with a simple map of Santa Destroy, significantly cutting down on the downtime between activities. You also don't have to pay any exorbitant entry fees to enter a ranking fight, leaving you with more money to spend on training, upgraded beam katanas, and random hipster t-shirts. Money will still, hilariously, fly out of enemies, though you'll need to take on some side jobs to earn some real scratch, all of which are rendered in the style of old 8-bit console games. These games aren't so much good as they are accurate, right down to the crushed and muddled digital voice samples. It only takes a couple plays for most of these side jobs to turn tedious, but they make up for it with volume, and it's impressive how they nail the era and the styles of games they're trying to emulate.

This 8-bit design style bleeds out into the rest of the game in random spots, often in the form of square-wave audio cues and anachronistic fonts, though it takes equal inspiration from giant robot cartoons, lucha libre, anime cheesecake, and spaghetti westerns. No More Heroes 2 is clearly less interested in creating an immersive world than it is a ridiculous playground for its protagonist to murder dudes in, which can make it a very spartan-looking game at times, a sense that's exacerbated by the game's high-contrast art style.

 I couldn't explain what's going on here if I wanted to.
No More Heroes 2 remains propelled by its own bratty enthusiasm for the good first half of its run-time, though it does start to run out of steam somewhat as it approaches the grand finale. There are some sequences where you play as characters other than Travis Touchdown that suffer from ill-conceived controls. And while I said it's generally an easier game than the first, the boss fights can still slide into drawn-out battles of attrition, which can be tedious to win and frustrating to lose. There are significant performance issues as well--despite the fact that most of the game consists of Travis fighting a half-dozen dudes and little more, the frame rate can get real sketchy at times.

In more ways than one, No More Heroes is to games what Crank is the movies--this is a deliberately stupid and absurd game made with incredible craft and passion by people who love video games and hate being bored. No More Heroes 2 is a game seemingly designed specifically to surprise people who have played a lot of video games, and to this end, it's a smashing success.
28 Comments
Posted by pbhawks45

"In more ways than one, No More Heroes is to games what Crank is the movies." 


 
Sold.

Posted by NAKent

Man, Is it weird that this is game that makes me want a Wii again

Posted by Milkman

I've been hearing so many mixed opinions about this game.

Online
Posted by masterpaperlink

i would get it if i hadn't lost ma nunchuk

Posted by TomA

Wait this is out already? And by out I mean coming out this week.

Posted by Gearhead

How long is the game? I know the original was a good length but partly due to the big overworld and the annoying pay to play openings to get to a boss fight. 

Posted by TheLawnWrangler

I always saw the parallel to Crank 
and this is as butt nuts crazy as Crank 2 was o.o

Posted by Kindrik
@TomA said:
" Wait this is out already? And by out I mean coming out this week. "
Came out on the 26th last month.
 
@Gearhead said:
" How long is the game? I know the original was a good length but partly due to the big overworld and the annoying pay to play openings to get to a boss fight.  "

I finished the game on Mild (Normal) in about 12 hours. Though I spent some extra time on some of the mini-games and buying shirts, etc.
Posted by FesteringNeon

Pimpin 4 tha reps.
Posted by Dante369

No mention of the horrible camera, some very poorly designed bosses and enemies, and shitty dodge system?  How about the playing as Shinobu and having some of the absolute worst platforming around?  Oh, and you have to use that terrible platforming in a boss fight.

Posted by CommodoreGroovy

Saturday Review!

Posted by Kbm600

I thought Crank was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Guess I'll skip this. 
 
In all seriousness, this game has never appealed to me for one reason or another.

Posted by Rasgueado

"People deal with grief differently you know? Some people fuck at funerals... I cut off heads."  
-Travis Touchdown 
 
Can there be an award for most awesome line of dialogue for 2010?

Posted by GalacticPunt

Just 100%-ed the collection and clothes this morning.  Great game that can't quite top the first.  The Shinobu levels have perhaps the clunkiest platforming in history, and the ending is weak, but there are hours of brilliant insanity in this.  There's a lot of things that just can't be described, but I just gotta say "Downward Fucking Dog!!!!"

Posted by monster9999

Thanks for the review Ryan. Thought it wasn't coming this week. Good stuff i love the game just about done

Edited by momentarylogic

mmmmMMMmmmmbeer.

Posted by MetalBaofu
@Kbm600: @Kbm600 said:
" I thought Crank was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Guess I'll skip this.   In all seriousness, this game has never appealed to me for one reason or another. "
Not playing No More Heroes because you didn't like Crank makes absolutely no sense.     Yeah....they both are pretty much just mindless action/fun, but playing a game just isn't comparable to watching a movie.      The game is, at least, worth checking out via a rental.
Online
Posted by Godlyawesomeguy
@Kbm600 said:
"I thought Crank was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Guess I'll skip this.   In all seriousness, this game has never appealed to me for one reason or another. "

Crank 2 was a pretty great movie, in my opinion, and if I had a wii, this is the first series I would buy.
Posted by JTHomeslice

I totally agree with the Crank comparison.  I thought the same thing after Crank 2 and play NMH2.

Edited by kennybaese

Just one thing, the tiger thing is not inexplicable. Every time you kill a dude in one of the story missions there's a three slot thing at the bottom of the screen. If they line up, you get a time limited power up. One lets you shoot fire balls at dudes, one lets you move really fast, and one turns you into a tiger.  Which is awesome.  
 
Anyway, No More Heroes is awesome and I'm excited to get more on something that isn't a Wii.  
 
And it's about ten million times better than Crank. Crank is garbage. Which is exactly what it wants to be and is awesome because of it. But No More Heroes is better.

Posted by JackSukeru

Can't wait to play this, just gotta work my way through some other games first.

Online
Posted by Kbm600
@metalhead87 said:
" @Kbm600: @Kbm600 said:
" I thought Crank was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Guess I'll skip this.   In all seriousness, this game has never appealed to me for one reason or another. "
Not playing No More Heroes because you didn't like Crank makes absolutely no sense.     Yeah....they both are pretty much just mindless action/fun, but playing a game just isn't comparable to watching a movie.      The game is, at least, worth checking out via a rental. "
Perhaps you didn't read my post. I said "In all seriousness", signaling I was joking about it affecting me playing it. I stated the game just hasn't appealed to me. Nothing i've seen from it has been great looking to me.
Posted by MetalBaofu
@Kbm600 said:
" @metalhead87 said:
" @Kbm600: @Kbm600 said:
" I thought Crank was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Guess I'll skip this.   In all seriousness, this game has never appealed to me for one reason or another. "
Not playing No More Heroes because you didn't like Crank makes absolutely no sense.     Yeah....they both are pretty much just mindless action/fun, but playing a game just isn't comparable to watching a movie.      The game is, at least, worth checking out via a rental. "
Perhaps you didn't read my post. I said "In all seriousness", signaling I was joking about it affecting me playing it. I stated the game just hasn't appealed to me. Nothing i've seen from it has been great looking to me. "
Ok.....I didn't catch that you weren't serious about not playing the game because you didn't like Crank.....so what?    My overall statement still stands.   The game is good and worth renting, at least.
Online
Posted by BagSquad

Ugh, I need a Wii.

Posted by Shaanyboi

DOWNWARD FUCKING DOG

Posted by Willy105

Hilarious review.
 
But what bothered me is that is the final box art for the game. It looks like it was made by the developer's son. Just look at the logo, it has the generic Photoshop glow to it!

Edited by Claude

"which is great for players with motion-control allergies" 
 
I love that line. Good one Ryan. 
Posted by Knives

I would compare No More Heroes more to Shoot 'Em Up, but Crank works too.