As I established here, the original No More Heroes is like pizza. Continuing with that metaphor, the sequel is like a plate of pizza rolls Ė each bite might seem like itís packed with more ingredients and taste, but when you finish eating you realize it felt more like a snack than a full meal, and therefore youíre not quite as satisfied.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle takes the original formula and ditches everything that isnít Kill Bill-style over the top brutal murder. No overworld, no side jobs, no compelling story, no character depth. ďBut Gelatinous, it does have side jobs!Ē Those arenít side jobs, those are mini-games youíre picking out of a menu. Theyíre small little extras, like everything in the game that isnít the aforementioned killing spree. The flip side is that everything is turned to eleven. The graphics are sleeker, the music is much more wacky and infectious, they actually tried to make the side jobs fun mini games, the clothes you can buy are better and more varied, thereís more beam katanas, more gameplay options, boob physics and Sylvia is hotter. At first glance it feels like No More Heroes 2 is a drastic improvement; I mean, the overworld and the side jobs sucked, didnít they? They did, but they were playing their part in the overall experience.
Thatís the main problem with No More Heroes 2. It seems to think that by simply removing the things that suck, the game will be better. It doesnít work like that. The original No More Heroes didnít grab anyone with its gameplay, it did with its amazing characters, story and overall originality. If you remove all those elements, the game is not gonna stick with players. The core gameplay is only barely improved (and thatís debatable, because Dark Step is harder to pull off, you canít evade when you arenít locked on and the camera is super wonky); itís not amazingly good because it was never amazingly good, and it didnít need to be in the first game. In the sequel, it kind of did, and they needed to make some drastic improvements to make that happen.
Can't say I remember him. Guess he didn't make an impression - must've been crazy weak.
What do you get when you remove the killing mayhem from Desperate Struggle? Some 8-Bit mini games that are novel at first but get real repetitive real fast, you can buy clothes and katanas, and you can do some assassination missions which, unlike those in the first game, arenít replayable. You also get a shitty story that tries to be more serious than that in the first one and fails considerably. This is mainly due to two major flaws Ė none of the ranked assassins are interesting or have any kind of depth outside of their visual design (donít leave a comment about the astronaut dude, he sucks too), and Travis is a super cocky world famous star this time which isnít relatable or badass at all. Besides, you're kind of arbitrarily jumping through the rankings and playing as different characters, it strips the meaning out of the experience. If I told you in 2008 that a sequel to No More Heroes would feature many ranked assassins with little to no introduction whatsoever before the fight, would you belive it?
I can understand what the developers were thinking when designing the sequel. They wanted gameplay to be a bigger focus, so they didnít want to bother the player with boring and weird design choices. Thatís a totally valid approach; the problem is that if they wanted to shift the focus to gameplay, they shouldíve made it super awesome. At least as awesome as the story was in the first game, and they sure as hell didnít. As I mentioned before, the gameplay is nearly identical. They shouldíve had all the ranked assassins available on the menu at all times for instant replayability, they shouldíve had actual compelling level design, they shouldíve had a ton more moves, combos and finishers, more weapons aside from katanas, more varied slot machines, super fun missions with the bike and the giant robot, I can go on forever. None of that is in this game. So naturally, the overall experience ultimately falls flat.
Pain in my ass! Why aren't you dead yet? Seriously, I cut off your head!
No More Heroes 2 is not even half as memorable as its predecessor was. Itís a decent action game with some cool extras wrapped around a ďstoryĒ. It's not terrible by any means because it's still No More Heroes, and the personality is still there, but it's a drastic step backward from the original game. This isnít Paradise. It's not even the Garden of Madness Ė this is the Apartment of Boring.
I wouldn't go as low as the dreaded 69, but I do agree that it wasn't quite as memorable as the original. I really think the series needs to evolve if they ever do a third one. A large part of the appeal of the original was that it was like nothing else, and you can't ride on the "different" factor as much in sequels.
Objectively speaking, I think the second game was better than the first, it just had the bad luck of being the second game in the series. I just think people were caught off guard and were convinced by the sheer character the first game had. It isn't until the second game where the charm starts to wear thin.
Reading up on Suda51 after your other review, it mentioned that No More Heroes was one of his few/only? games that sold enough to warrant a sequel. Pretty sad that that sequel fell so flat for you! Even though I'm not a fan myself, I'm legitimately sorry for you!
Do you care about buying clothes and all that? I usually tinker with it, but I rarely buy out the store. I usually look for sneaks like mine, or a cool T-Shirt, and roll with it. My Rock Band guy is awesome, and my Super Swing Golf kid is as close as you can get...with a small, cartoon boy.
When you mention "relatibility," I instantly thought of Charlie "Wild Thing" Sheen in Major League. The first movie he was totally B.A. with his mohawk, sleeveless everything, and stuff, and then for the 2nd movie he's all clean cut, riding in a limo, with a tux. Hmm. Is this what happened here? He got Wild Thing'd.
That said, I also like pizza rolls, but yes, not nearly as filling as pizza. Why is that? You can eat a TON of pizza rolls and feel totally full for a little while..but you're hungry again like *that!* What the heck, pizza rolls?!