Tuesday, February 23, 2016

VGR No More Heroes 2

Hold on a minute you violence-loving bastard! Before you begin your...desperate struggling...you should drop a nice save!

Flowers, sun, rain, some guy named Mondo and people killing the past? Time for a Suda51 game!

VGR: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle or simply known as No More Heroes 2 or NMH2
From Grasshopper Manufacture/Marvelous Entertainment/Rising Star Games/Ubisoft
Played on Wii
Also available on /

Type 3rd Person Action-adventure/Hack 'n' slash/Beat 'em all/Retro arcade minigames compilation/Otaku parody-tribute/Random crazy Japanese meta game
Year 2010

Well, well. If it isn't Travis Touchdown. Back for more?

The show has just begun!

Since No More Heroes quickly became one of Suda51's best selling titles, which helped give some notoriety back to his studio Grasshopper Manufacture since, it was only natural to give the game a sequel at some point.

After a Nintendo DS remake of their first hit Flower, Sun and Rain: Murder and Mystery in Paradise and one of The Silver Case ending up scrapped, Suda finally got the time to come back to NMH.

The game was released in 2010 for the Wii. Marvelous Entertainment would once more produce the game, while Rising Star Games released the game in Europe and Ubisoft in America. 

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle takes most of the criticism the first game got and overhauled a lot of aspects of the game. The sequel is slightly darker in tone and has more emphasis on revenge. It's a bit more serious despite keeping a lot of the same humor and style of colorful crazy boss fights.

This time it feels more like a big love letter to video games in general rather than a meta deconstruction of the genre.

The story sees the return of the always-appropriately named Travis Touchdown. It's been three years since Travis made his way through the "fake" UAA rankings (the "United Assassins Association") and killed the best killers in the world.

Our otaku comes back to Santa Destroy to confront his past... but ends up doing the only thing he seems able to do, killing people.

Already Travis sets a foot in town and assassins are immediately trying to fight him, seeking revenge for people he killed in the previous episode.

Travis meets Sylvia Christel again. Travis is apparently now ranked at the bottom of the list, as the 51st best assassin in the world! At first he's not interested, but when they kill Tavis' friend down at the local shop, Bishop, things get personal.

The one responsible for the hit is named Jasper Batt Jr., the CEO of Pizza Bat and the first-ranked assassin. He has a personal vendetta against Travis since he destroyed most of the company in the last game killing key members of the society. Since then they were able to buy every business in Santa Destroy.

Our hero is tired of all these constant fights, having to kill all the time for entertainment "like something out of a video game!" Along the way Travis will meet several familiar faces.

All the while through the story, the game is intercut with these strange first person scenes taking place in a peep show. Which lead to a rather confusing ending that gives no answer if the entire game even took place in the first place!

The criticisms the first game got were not ignored and heard in No More Heroes 2.

Gameplay is pretty similar from one game to another. And it would sort of remain a signature style for most forthcoming Grasshopper Manufacture titles.

The game follows the same general mechanics combining hack & slash with some top notch wrestling moves. Travis can buy upgraded katana-beams, which he will always carry all on his person at all times. This time they're pretty different from a huge large heavy sword to dual katanas.

Travis also has access to some special moves. These "darkside" power-ups are obtained through a slot machine system which can turn Travis into a tiger or give him all sorts of fireball powers.

Gone is the open world overworld map from the first game, sadly. Now the game uses a simple overview map to select the next destinations (which is often the case with big ambitious arcade-styke Japanese games and their sequels, just look at the Sonic Adventure games!).

Travis starts a loner, but he ends up living with three people at his bachelor pad through the story. The world slowly opens up for Travis, it is not as dark and lonely as he once thought.

Remember the samura-schoolgirl assassin Shinobu Jacobs? Now you got to play as Shinobu!

Shinobu returns, now idolizing Travis. She will defeat some of the assassins to help Travis advance in his quest.

Her stages help shake things up a little bit. She has slightly different controls controls, she can even jump!

And we finally get to play as Travis' brother Henry Cooldown - the one and only Sir Henry Motherf*cker

After rescuing Henry, he also gets to help Travis... only it's a huge cop out on the part of Suda who overhyped the character through the first game (and its conclusion)... and we only get this silly short boss fight! I know it's all just for fun, but come on... He gets this anime-inspired nightmare level, and then proceeds to kill several of the assassins off screen!!!

Henry gets pretty fast-paced controls based on a dodge mechanic which Suda would put to use in a later game.

Each boss you encounter is pretty unique, each having their own personality and style. And they're all kind of odd! The bosses are just as colorful as they were in the first game. Each crazier than the last one. There's a gothic lolita, a football star and his cheerleaders who combine to transform into this giant mecha, as well as supernatural creatures this time as well and this Russian cosmonaut controlling an entire space station from the distance!

Despite Travis being ranked 51 (a not-so subtle allusion to Goichi Suda's nickname Suda51), there's really only 15 real boss fights!

The game is just as crazy, frantic and inspired as No More Heroes 1. 

It's such a fun unique game! 

With Masafumi Takada leaving Grasshopper Manufacture, Silent Hill’s Akira Yamaoka took over most of the music of the game (and he would stay with the studio to this day). The music covers all kind of genres from pop to rock, disco, jazz and all kinds of music! There's also a few notable guest contributors such as The Riot -Teens of Anger. The music is really, really good and give the game a great personality.

It's such a fun experience like the original was, always throwing fun stuff at you. Not all levels play the same.

It's really a tribute to all the things nerds love, from the anime culture to video games.

They even got Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno to animate the intro sequence of Travis' favorite anime as well as involving the legendary Japanese director Takashi Miike in a silly one-off cameo!!!

Like in the first game you can beef up Travis' stats at the gym.

Before you had to provide an entry fee for each new mission in NMH1 with all kinds of odd jobs, this time you can jump right into the story.

But the sidejobs are still present.

Instead of the waggle-controlled minigame jobs of the previous games, they've been replaced by these 8-bit retro games. They cover about all kinds of genre, action, racing, puzzles...

This time they're fully-fledged retro-style games. And they're all pretty good from simple basic puzzle game to fully playable 8-bit arcade games! I could honestly easily see most of those as actual standalone game back on the NES.

Only the scorpion-catching job makes a comeback as a 3D job, the rest is all done in pure NES-fashion. The bug hunt is particularly good, and my favorite, it's very reminiscent of the great New Ghostbusters II game. They all look fairly well and even sound authentic, if you will.

A lot of the game is just as meta as it was in the previous game. The game seems to really revolve a lot about gaming, playing off the role of players in video games and what they go through or allowed to do.

It's a lot about deception and the entire concept of video games. I mean, the game even go as far as mocking and teasing the player with the 2 game-long build of Henry only to finally be able to play him... in a zany dream sequence! And at the end of the game, for the final boss fight, he even ditches you in the middle of the fight! Apparently he's only a huge badass off screen.

A lot of the game went into the immersion of the player. 

You can once more customize all kinds of aspects of Travis. You can really tweak Travis' appearance now.

And remember Travis' cat? Now you have to keep his weight in check with a few silly minigames!

Goodbye Santa Destroy, the overworld is now reduced to Travis' apartment.

The tone is fairly close to the first game, if feeling different enough to stand enough on its own as a sequel. Our unpredictable Travis Touchdown gets a ton of great Bruce Campbell-style one liners. He's a video game character that is aware he is in a video game. The game is full of stylish choices and sexual innuendos (more so than the first game was). It also feels a bit brighter and bloodier than the first game (although it seems to be on a smaller scale). 

Great writing. Great visuals. And particularly great music.

Some elements feel recycled from scrapped ideas from the first game, while it seems even a lot more was also scrapped from the finally product. I mean it really seems like the game originally had a fully 3D Santa Destroy clearly in-game, but it probably was taken out late in development since we still get to see all the landmarks of the town from the first game whenever you choose missions or during the story cinematics.  

I miss driving around town on the bike from one location to the next...

This time the game was finally released uncensored outside Japan (blood is finally red, not black anymore). It's always a lot of fun watching all that cash popping out of enemies with the blood, like some weird twisted old school retro game.

It's slightly shorter than the previous episode, due to the game not forcing you to grind money to pay to advance the story nor the world map.

Through deathmatch challenges you can replay boss fights, which is alway a nice bonus.

There's also the return of the New Game+ mode, which is nice for replay value since this is not a particularly long game.

It's a more streamlined experience. With just as many pop culture references and humor. It's a pretty impressive Wii game. With lovely graphics and a ton of fun. Even though it can be a bit rough around the edges. The game can be a bit frustrating a few times, but whenever you fail it feels like it's on you and not on the game's part.

Overall, No More Heroes 2 is just as good as the first game.

It's a really fun crazy fast-paced adventure. It's a game that shows a lot of love for video games and these weird characters and over-the-top world.

The game is kind of more straightforward and direct than its previous installement, since Suda took notice of all the criticism the previous game received. Taking out everything people didn't like about it, such as grinding money to continue the story to pay for the next fights or the awkward driving in the world map (which I personally loved and missed in this one...). For all these reasons the game feels slightly shorter and easier.

Sadly the game didn't make a lot of sales. In fact one could say it even was a "desperate struggle" (*drum rolls*) compared to both the original game and its Xbox 360/PS3 remake.

But in my eyes it's just as good and excellent, and it also comes as Highly Recommended for any Wii and Wii U owners!!

Despite Suda liking the characters and these stories, he wasn't really interested in making another NMH game, preferring to explore similar ideas in different games. He said he would maybe reconsider it if he got to do it around a new console system, or even through a spinoff (he said that again around the release of the Wii U).
I give it:
2.5 / 3 Quacks!


  1. Awesome. I liked this game on Wii so much. Violence, humor and even badasses battles than the first videogame. ¿When the third part come fucking out???? XD

    1. Depending on the week you ask Suda, either NEVER or on the next Nintendo system :P