Developed By: Grasshopper Manufacture (Original) Engine Software (Port) Published By: Marvelous XSeed Categories: Action, Retro Release Date: 10.28.20
No More Heroes 2 is a bit of a difficult game to really compare to the first. It does so many things right, but it feels like something is missing, something that the first game did have.
Lets start with what changed, the gameplay. It’s faster, it’s definitely cinematic, and even fighting feels better. You have an equal amount of beam katanas as you did in the first game, but now each Beam Katana is unique in it’s own. Want the comically large and long katana that’s super slow, but will wreck anything in it’s way, have it. Dual Wielding is also an option, and the beam katana set for that is really fun to use, though since it does unlock near the end of the game, it’s going to probably get more use in New Game+. The camera being so much closer in game and combos being longer make combat much more satisfying when taking down the waves of goons. Even outside of the Rank Battle levels the game is faster. No longer do you need to grind to get money for each fight, when it’s available, you can just go straight at it, with money being used only for buying new beam katanas or clothing. The latter of which has more options to buy now, with shoes, belts, wristbands adding to the shirts, pants, shades, and jackets from before. There’s more bosses this time around, with some even having new ways to fight time, such as a mech fight or even playing as Shinobu from the first game in her own two stages, or Henry for a single fight. Shinobu even has her own unique save screen.
The odd job minigames return, but are replaced with 8bit games that feel much less like a chore to do as well as making much more money. The assassination odd jobs are gone and in their place are the revenge missions, which have you enacting revenge on a group of thugs who did something we’ll discuss a bit more with the game’s story as a whole. Thunder Ryu’s gym is replaced with Ryan’s, which has some 8bit minigames to raise your stats. If you do miss the in-engine “real life” minigames though, your cat Jeane has gotten fat and you’ll need to get her back into shape, there’s a reward in it for you too. Navigation has changed, with you being able to freely move around in any of the building you walk in, including your motel room, which is an improvement I am very happy about. However, there’s no longer an overworld, which can be a pro or negative depending on the player, but it does speed getting through the game up with no time wasted driving around.
My issues with No More Heroes 2 can be summed up with one word, overcompensation. Players dislike how you have to drive around everywhere, then just take it away. People find the odd jobs boring, so lets replace them with retro games. Getting a boss stolen from you must have been super anti-climactic huh, lets let you actually fight the boss now, even if it’s not a fun boss fight. No More Heroes may have been silly at times, but was relatively grounded outside of having laser swords everywhere. In No More Heroes 2, it feels like a cartoon at times and ramps up how wacky, brash, and even sexy the game can get. Travis needs to be louder, he needs to spray more blood, there needs to be constant jiggling of the female characters, especially when one of them is getting chopped apart. No More Heroes wasn’t about a person feeling tapped in their humdrum, boring existence thinking becoming a killer to impress a woman would change it, only to find out it was the same thing. No, it was about swearing, nerds getting caught pleasuring themselves, and chopping people up with your penis metaphor. It took things that were part of the first game and put them up front and center.
Bosses as a whole come as a bit of a point of contention for me. You get more of them sure, but none of them are near as interesting outside of Alice and Nathan. Go figure, since Nathan was a scrapped boss from the first game. Most bosses just start, you fight them, they did, and that’s it. It doesn’t even make sense how two bosses, a ghost kid who haunts a cabin, and a stranded cosmonaut would even be in a league of assassins. At least every boss has a good design, which is something it has in common with the first game. Bosses are also way too easy outside of Ryuji and Margaret, with Margaret being more frustrating as she just constantly just shoots you away. None of the bosses seem to understand what the word block means, they almost never put up a fight and go down almost pathetically fast. Outside of Shinobu, Jeane, and Henry, none of the bosses in the first game were too difficult, but they at least seemed like they weren’t just taking hits from you.
No More Heroes 2 is about revenge. Your best friend and the guy who ran the videostore in the first game, Bishop was brutally murdered and Travis need to enact revenge against those who did the deed, while also going down the ranks again, in a quest for more booty from the same woman. Travis this time is a bit of a celebrity in the world of assassins though “The Crownless King”, with some bosses gushing over him, and even one being a fangirl. The game never knows when it wants to be serious or silly though. The game starts with far too many 4th Wall breaks, and then quickly jumps to Travis mourning his best friends death, to only have Travis just without any though chop up two innocent women before fighting Nathan. Constant videogame or film reference, the game outright says “take a save”, referencing how you go to the bathroom to save in the game. At one point, Travis goes on an angry tirade about how assassins are real people and not just toys, but this was not too long after getting caught watching adult films by his brother and then is followed almost immediately after by a scene of Travis finally getting to bed Sylvia, with jokes about the motel goes from “No More Heroes Motel” to “More Ero Motel” With the game finally ending with a joke final boss. It’s inconsistent and despite attempt to get people feeling bad about how some of the assassins die, you never really feel for them unlike how you would for someone like Holly Summers from the first game.
If anything, I absolutely adore the soundtrack for the game. I loved the first game’s OST, but the sequel is up and above the superior collection. There’s more variety, even with some vocal songs in levels. You have multiple composers this time, including Akira Yamaoka and Norihiko Hibino, both of which who used to work for Konami on Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid respectively. Stages this time can at times drag on a bit too long, but the fantastic music more than makes up for it. I remember back when the game came out on the Wii constantly hunting for a way to listen to the soundtrack online, this was ofcourse before youtube was as big as it was and before Grasshopper released the OST proper. The two songs in the credits were especially songs I was a fan of, in addition to the Matt Helms/Ryuji theme.
It may sound like I hate the game, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I love No More Heroes 2, but I don’t like it for the same reasons as I did the first game and that in itself it the ultimate disappointment. No More Heroes 2 seemed like a sequel made for people who didn’t like the first game, while still giving lip service to the original. It’s still fun, and for the most part more fun, but the soul the original game had isn’t there anymore in the sequel. I think a good comparison would be to the two The Evil Within games. The first game is deeply flawed, but has a certain flair and interest to it, the sequel however is at it’s core gameplay standard, a better game…just lacking in everything that made the first game good or noteworthy. Neither sequel had Masafumi Takada like the originals had either…
Buy Now: $19.99
*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes