When I came to sit down and bust this review out, I thought I had a general idea of how it would appear, but when I finally put the pen to my legal pad (yeah, I’m old school), I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to say. It’s hard to put this experience into a clearcut statement, that is, until the epiphany hit me: playing No More Heroes 2 is like stepping into the best god damn B-Movie ever created.
Yeah, that’s right – better than Delta Force.
NMH2 picks up three years after the end of the original. With leading otaku Travis Touchdown climbing the ranks of the United Assassin’s Association (UAA), his success lead to an explosive growth in the Assassin underworld that Travis ultimately left behind. Yet, after three years of retirement, Travis returns and learns that former champions are granted no exceptions, as he must start from the bottom rung, which is now the 51st spot and no longer 11th. His quest for glory rapidly alters into one of revenge, for his best friend is murdered and his head “shipped” to Travis a la an intensified “what’s in the box” situation.
The opening sequence quickly sets the B-Movie tone with excessive amounts of gore, both genuinely funny and laughable dialog, and most important to the B-Movie experience, a whole bunch of sexual innuendo and scantily clad boobies. No B-Move experience, at the very least, is without its’ side-boob, and juvenile director Suda51 and his development company, Grasshopper Manufacture, does not disappoint. But I’m sure you’re not in it for the boobies.
Like its predecessor, NMH2‘s combat is simplistic in its design, yet perform relatively flawless while avoiding common button-mashing techniques. Two options of control are available this time around. You can tackle the UAA ranks with the Wiimote and numchuck, providing a more interactive (albeit slightly) experience, or you go with more traditional action game controls via the Wii classic controller.
After fiddling with both for roughly half the game, I found my time using the classic controller much more enjoyable. It was just easier to pull off beam katana and wrestling finishers, and as an effect, much more gratifying. Using the Wiimote and nunchuck were fun, but they could have been more involved in terms of the positioning of Travis’ beam katana via Wii MotionPlus, which is not utilized.
Fighting breaks down to four basic attacks: high and low beam katana attacks and high and low wrestling strikes. If using the Wiimote and nunchuck, the position of the controller is key to attacking high or low, and besides waving it around to finish of enemies and shaking it up and down to recharge your beam katana’s battery, this is the extent of interactivity experienced using the Wiimote.
The most indulging aspect of combat, like its predecessor, comes with the finishers, which are killing blows performed by Travis. They definitely put the “laughter” back in “slaughter,” as the gore explosively exiting Travis’ victims will leave you with a shit-eating-grin for hours to come, especially during the unique boss fights. Each ranked assassin fits the B-Movie bill perfectly and all possess a specific style of fighting, be it a morphing boom-box or a giant football playing mech.
Like the original, No More Heroes 2 utilizes the Ecstasy Gauge, but does away with the “Dark Side Mode.” Because Travis enjoys shedding the blood of thousands, his ecstasy after kills and finishers (both wrestling and beam katana moves) grows and fills up a tiger-shaped barometer. Once the tiger changes to a deep red and begins to roar with fiery brimstone, you can unleash the pent up “tension” you’ve acquired to gain a massive increase in attack speed to devastated your enemies.
Travis can also channel the power from his Ecstasy Gauge and transform into a throat-gouging tiger, as long as the slot wheels align themselves correctly after one of Travis’ finishers. Alternatively, the slot machine can also grant even more badass-ary with a super-charged version of the normal speed boost, an attack that will instantly kills anyone in the vicinity. While not as varied as the original “Dark Side Mode,” massacring assassins as a ravenous tiger is pretty damn hard not to love.
When you’re not committing mass amounts of genocide, NMH2 lets you explore the city through a point-and-click map system. While much of the awkwardness of getting around town has been removed, it feels stripped down and a little too bare without any free-roam exploration. However, Suda51 greatly compensates for this with a wonderful array of mini-games that all brandish an 8-bit “makeover.”
Games range from catching bugs to removing space debris, and in true B-Movie, No More Heroes fashion, each game is cleverly sexualized with names like “Laying the Pipe” and “Man the Meat.” Mini-games will net you cash (as well as increases to health and damage), and cash will buy you different beam katanas and clothing. Each game is originally awesome and a blast to play, and if fleshed out some, would justify separate, full releases.
While the 8-bit may be a nice nostalgic touch for us old bastards, the rest of the game sport visuals that are relatively unrivaled on the Wii. They look very similar to the original, but with a more realistic and softer cell-shaded touch that’s a noticeable improvement over the first game. The soundtrack also comes back with a vengeance, creating the same high-octane atmosphere that’s just perfect for genocidal rampages (and while sitting on your ass eating EasyMac).
Along with the superb music, it is an equally fantastic sound-work. They brought back great memories from the 8-bit NES days, where one magic blow-job could mean the difference between finding Princess Zelda or watching a whole bunch of jumbled, multicolored blocks.
To put it bluntly, No More Heroes 2 is one of the best titles on the Wii to date. Though its a bit on the short side, clocking in around eight hours or so, they’ll be some of the funniest, violent and unique eight hours you’ll ever enjoy. Combat is fluid, exhilarating, and overly gory, and you can finally play as Travis’ twin brother Henry and the scantily-clad ninja, Shinobu.
The mini-games have a nice throwback touch, and the story, while a little generic, compels you to continue with numerous pop-culture references and witty dialog. Needless to say, No More Heroes 2 is a must own for the Wii, and if you don’t own one, you should probably go buy one.
The graphics are a huge improvement over the original, and look astounding on the Wii hardware. They are one of the best I've seen on the console.
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With near flawless mechanics, No More Heroes 2 is simply a blast to play. The combat never feels old and busted, and the 8-bit mini-games could stand-alone as games themselves.
The high-energy music will have you aching for more, and the effects were given a masterful touch.
The game is a little on the short side, clocking in around 8 hours, but if you want to collect every piece of clothing and every beam katana, you'll be playing 8-bit games for hours to come.
Though it may be a little short, No More Heroes 2 is, undoubtedly, one of the best titles on the Wii to date. Turn down the lights, jack up the sound, grab a box of tissues, and let No More Heroes 2 make sweet, sweet love to you.