No More Heroes 2 Review
Released two years ago, No More Heroes left a large impression with its sexual references, fountains of blood, and the memorable use of toilets as save points – all of which were used tastefully or humorously, but never excessively. Now, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle brings back the shock value that Wii gamers so rarely get. The question is: is there enough new content in this game to warrant a purchase or is the game simply a rehash that tries to cash in on its mature content?
Fans will be happy to hear that the game's visual style and music have changed little from its predecessor. While the first game had fountains of blood that would burst as players killed enemies, No More Heroes 2 cuts back and gives players a modest amount – enough to satisfy most gamers' blood lust. On the other hand, No More Heroes 2 offers more violent and creative kills for bosses to compensate for the overall decrease in gore. These creative ways range from decapitating the boss, only to have his head land back perfectly on his neck, to powering up the beam katana and having it blow up the boss' face. All of them will have players' jaws dropping and salivating for the next kill.
In the first iteration, the game's protagonist Travis Touchdown traveled around Santa Destroy, the game's city, on his motorcycle in a free roaming world, much like the formula established in Grand Theft Auto. There's no free roaming this time and players travel to destinations through a menu. While this takes out the mundane exploration from the first game, load times are now annoyingly abundant. A typical trip from Travis' house to any other location would include a load screen to walk outside the home, one to zoom into the destination, and one to walk into that destination. It doesn't seem like much on paper, but it gets tedious to sit through load screen after load screen.
This is another category where No More Heroes 2 has changed little from its predecessor. Players press the A button to slash, while the motion controls are mostly reserved for grappling moves and finishing maneuvers. This time, there are two new uses for motion controls: players can perform stronger attacks called a running slash by shaking the Wii-mote or a step-in slice by shaking the nunchuck. While this addition won't change the core gameplay, it provides a new option to players who may want to play more conservatively. Certain boss fights, for example, won't let players get in many hits before they're repelled away; rather than chip away at the enemy's health with weak slashes, players can opt to use running slashes to maximize those rare opportunities.
Bosses are interesting to fight against because each requires a new strategy and have new patterns for players to learn. On the other hand, the bulk of the game consists of grunts who can be easily defeated by mashing away on the A button. The only thing to break away from this monotony are the gun wielding grunts sprinkled throughout the waves of enemies, but they tend to be more of an annoyance than an actual challenge. Their shots stop Travis in the middle of his combos, forcing players to eliminate them first. Once that is done, the game returns to the same button mashing formula as before.
While the core gameplay received little changes, the rest of the game has a slew of changes that will be sure to please fans of the first game, especially fans of old school games. Rather than using the in-game engine to perform side jobs for money, No More Heroes 2 places players in 8-bit minigames, all of which should remind fans of nostalgic games from the past. For the most part, this is a fun departure, especially because the player is no longer required to raise funds to fight in the ranking battles. These minigames are simple, such as having Travis race against oncoming traffic to deliver pizzas or cook a steak precisely as each customer orders it. Some are more fun than others, but they're only simple distractions from the core gameplay.
Likewise, in order to level up their health and strength now, players will need to play through a mini game at the gym. This part is notably less enjoyable because the game is much less forgiving. The mini game consists of dodging kisses and dumbbells from the trainer, which is mostly an exercise in reaction speeds, or constantly running against a treadmill without falling off, which is another exercise in mashing the Z and B buttons. Sadly, the game doesn't award players with more health or strength regardless of success or failure, but players must survive the mini game's low tolerance of error. If not, players will have to try again until they succeed. As tough as the bosses and certain segments were, nothing could top these mini games.
One of the more interesting additions to this game is the inclusion of several levels where Shinobu, a boss from No More Heroes, and Henry, Travis' brother, are playable. It's a shame they didn't make an effort to include these characters in more levels. As it is, these two feel more like an easter egg or cameo rather than full additions to the game.
Bottom Line: Intended Audience Rating
Fans of the first will love this sequel because it improves upon the first one in every fathomable way. It takes out tedious exploration sequences, gives players more attacks, and includes Shinobu and Henry for a refreshing change. Whether or not fans got enough shock value and satisfied their blood lust from the first game is irrelevant – this game expands upon the original enough to warrant a purchase. If only the game was less monotonous, it would have more replay value; as it is, the game is only fun for about one or two playthroughs.
4 Out of 5 Beam Katanas
Bottom Line: Overall Rating
No More Heroes 2 will have a harder time appealing to casual fans than the first game. The gore and explicit visuals in this game no longer have the same shock factor it did in the first game because it's simply more of the same. The game is still fun and better than most offerings on the Wii, but doesn't really warrant a purchase for casual gamers.
3 Out of 5 Beam Katanas