No More Heroes has, and likely always shall be, one of the best Wii games to me. Very limited use of motion control, good use of the limited graphic the Wii has, and a very entertaining story, albeit a bit weird. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is the game’s sequel, developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, published by Ubisoft for the Wii.
The combat in No More Heroes is largely the same as it was. Motion control for finishing moves and a simple tilting of up or down for quick-weak attacks or slow-strong attacks. There was nothing wrong with this system before, and there’s nothing wrong with it now. It might not be what most Wii owners expect, with games like Wiisports and Red Steel out there, but it handles far better than most games that focus entirely on motion control.
No More Heroes 2 features a few distinct changes with in the combat, specifically 4 unique weapons and the ability to play as characters from the first game for a few brief chapters. The weapons themselves are a nice change. You can swap weapons while on a mission, and each one is completely unique in both appearance and how they perform. It’s quite a bit different with how weapons were used in the first game, but adds a nice level of variety and strategy for each fight with certain weapons working better against bosses than others.
The sandbox aspects from the first game are largely gone. This is a bit of a blessing and a curse. There’s no exploring Santa Destroy for hidden items, just an overhead map and simple selections to go to other areas. This means the hit and miss controls of the motorcycle from the first game are largely gone though. So blessing that you don’t have to mess with the motorcycle, curse that the sense of exploration is gone.
Money is a bigger hassle in this game compared to the first. The first you could take assassination jobs or fight in a battle royale of sorts to get money instead of just going with the boring jobs. In the sequel the jobs have been improved by making them simple 8-bit mini-games, but they don’t give a lot of money, so budgeting is a bit vital. The 8-bit mini-games also extend to upgrading your stamina and strength, which makes it more entertaining, but for the strength mini-game it’s hard to tell when you fail or succeed in the later attempts. It’s a great change all in all, but working on getting money is a pain in the ass.
Two characters from the first game, Shinobu and Henry, return as playable characters. In large, they are vastly different than Travis, but this isn’t so much a great thing some times. Shinobu can jump, which means the development for her few levels do have some emphasis on platforming. The way the camera works and how the game registers if you reach the platform you’re jumping towards or not can make these few brief areas a huge pain in the ass.
In the way of combat both characters are exceptionally entertaining to play as, and also somewhat more powerful than Travis himself. Henry only has one boss fight, which makes his addition very bittersweet, but the power of his charged attacks would be a bit too much against the typical enemy in the long run. Shinobu is quick, and entertaining to use with her special abilities, but the aforementioned level design makes her another bittersweet addition, fortunately she’s a little more used in the game than Henry.
The boss fights in the game are really the core of the game, and they are superb. Some are easier than others, but each boss is just as unique now as they were in the original game. Brilliantly designed characters that range from the really serious story focused characters, to the over-the-top silly foe. The only real flaw with the bosses is that there are supposed to be 50 in the game, but half of them you take out in one fight, and others are killed by your allies, so there are only about a dozen actual bosses to fight. ?
What really makes No More Heroes impressive to me is the story, the mixture of the bizarre, self-referential, serious, and silly that works so amazingly well. There’s a share of good laughs in this game, and some twists that make your mind feel like it’s leaking out of your ears. The complete lack of fourth-wall restricting the game just makes it all the better. The only real problem with the story is that the humor seems to die down somewhat near the end of the game. The writing also isn’t something intended for children, due to the abundance of profanity.
The graphics are what you expect from a Wii, which isn’t much, but the great art design and mature setting help make up for the lack of great graphical quality. Weapons, bosses, vehicles, levels, everything is designed superbly and have a great style that fans of Suda 51 have come to know and love. The mature rating is used in abundance with the design as well. Every woman is scantily clothed, and every enemy you fight will die a bloody and dismembered death. It’s gruesome, but works so amazingly well with the game.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is an amazing sequel to an amazing Wii title. It does not disappoint and does not let up. The controls, while not as personal as some other Wii titles, work exceptionally well by keeping the controls simple and limited with motion control. The combat is solid, the boss fights are intense, the tweaks to the game help the game in most respects. The great design and story tie all of this together in an entertaining title for a mature audience. Money is somewhat difficult to obtain, and the graphics are good but only for a Wii title, but No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a game that does not disappoint.