Review – No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Switch)
I heard a lot of comments after reviewing the Switch re-release of the first No More Heroes game. A lot of them could be summarised as “those things you’ve complained about, well, they have been fixed on the sequel, give that one a shot”. That alone was intriguing enough for me to become even more interested on No More Heroes 2, despite definitely not liking its predecessor, as well as its irritating 2019 spinoff. You know what? Those people were absolutely right. Everything I hated about the first No More Heroes is either absent or fixed in No More Heroes 2, easily the best game in the series so far.
I really can’t think of a single thing in No More Heroes 2 that hasn’t been improved over its predecessor. Graphics? They are less saturated than before, and the excessive shadow effects have been toned down a little, making the game more visually appealing than No More Heroes, even though it still suffers from some framerate issues every now and then. Combat? Largely the same, but with slight improvements on its camera controls, as well as new momentum-maintaining attacks available right from the start. Soundtrack? Vastly superior than before, with some memorable, Persona 5-esque tunes that easily stick in your head. Voice acting? Nowhere near as irritating as before, with better performances from the game’s cast, as well as better sound mixing.
The improved voice acting is also a consequence of the game’s overall tone. I loathed having to deal with Travis Touchdown in the original No More Heroes game. His entire journey felt pointless, with him acting like an obnoxious psychopath for no good reason. Things are different in No More Heroes 2: right from the getgo, Travis is struck with tragedy, giving him a clear and relatable reason as to why he wants to murder everyone in sight like an obnoxious psychopath.
A good analogy would be comparing the original No More Heroes with the first half of the Deadpool movie: Wade Wilson / Travis kills people for the sake of it, with little character development, feeling annoying as hell as a result. Meanwhile, No More Heroes 2 is basically the second half of the Deadpool movie: Deadpool / Travis has suffered a tragedy by the hands of some villain, so he’s now hell-bent on chasing down everyone who has wronged him, all while being an obnoxious, but more endearing and charming, douchebag as a result. The jokes landed way better this time around as well, dialing down on the immature, borderline shonen-esque writing, favoring a much more ridiculous but smarter and self-aware tone.
The main improvement over No More Heroes, however, is the lack of pointless filler. Gone is the stupid open world, for instance. Instead, you have access to a small menu that lets you drive directly to stores, minigames, and your next ranked battle. There is no need to raise funds to pay for your next battles either: this time around, money is used solely to buy new weapons, clothes, and stat upgrades. You don’t need to waste time playing annoying coconut catching minigames before being able to actually progress with the story. You can beat the entire game way faster than before if you so choose.
Thankfully, the minigames themselves are way more entertaining than before. Dare I say, they’re actually addicting. Instead of the aforementioned pointless overworld minigames featured in the first No More Heroes, every single minigame in No More Heroes 2 is presented in an 8-bit arcade aesthetic. For instance, there is a Hang-On-esque minigame about delivering pizzas, and a maze-like, Pac Man-inspired minigame in which you’re an exterminator tasked with killing bugs inside multiple rooms. Those minigames are fun, and most importantly, give you way more cash than they used to back in the previous game. Buying upgrades and cosmetics is much easier this time around.
There are still a handful of things I dislike about this series as a whole, namely the obnoxious protagonist, but I’m impressed. No More Heroes 2 is definitely much better than its predecessor in pretty much every single conceivable way. It looks nicer, its gameplay is more fluid, its soundtrack is more iconic, its voice acting is nowhere near as irritating as before, and the lack of pointless filler makes the game feel a lot more fluid as a result. I’m finally starting to understand why people love this franchise so much, even if I still think No More Heroes and Travis Strikes Again are massively overrated. Dare I say, I’m now looking forward to playing No More Heroes III whenever Suda51 decides to deop it.
A slight improvement over No More Heroes. The graphics are less saturated, and the excessive shadow effects have been toned down a bit. The game still suffers from some framerate issues, though.
The camera controls are a bit less clunky than before. There are new momentum-maintaining attacks that make the overall combat feel more fluid as a result. The best gameplay improvement, however, is the complete absence of the terrible open world featured in No More Heroes.
No More Heroes 2 features a much more enjoyable soundtrack than its predecessor, and its voice acting is nowhere near as irritating as it once was.
Fun Factor: 8.0
No More Heroes 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor. The pointless sidequests and open world are gone, vastly improving the game’s overall pacing. The brand new 8-bit minigames are also incredibly fun.
Final Verdict: 8.0
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is available now on Wii and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle was provided by the publisher.