Videogame fans of a certain age love No More Heroes for a handful of reasons. It's a niche indie game that comes courtesy of indie director Suda 51 and his Grasshopper Manufacture Studios. It's a game that revels in pop culture references and a semi-satirical wish fulfillment fantasy with lots of blood and sexual imagery. When the first game was released in 2007, it was one of the most unique games on the already very unique Nintendo Wii. And on top of all of that, it's a ton of fun to boot.
Suda 51 announced the next installment - titled Travis Strike Again: No More Heroes - last week as an exclusive on the Nintendo Switch to much fanfare. For those of you who didn't own a Wii or manage to find a remaster on the Playstation 3 or XBOX 360, here are some reasons why the No More Heroes franchise kicks all different kinds of ass.
There's plenty of fun to be had with the geek culture references throughout No More Heroes, but one of the best things about this game is its satire. Travis Touchdown is the series' protagonist, sure, but he's not exactly the most likable guy. Everything from his living situation (dead broke in an apartment surrounded by toys and posters) to his entitled otaku ethos to his lusting after women is. In a lot of ways, Travis is not too far removed from the stereotypical GamerGate guy that would come to define the culture, and it's to the game's credit that they nailed this perspective almost a decade before it popped up. And this is on top of the usual jokes about videogame cliches.
The second game lost some of its predecessor's edge by taking Travis' story too seriously and forcing he and Sylvia together, but there's still plenty of fun to be had.
Even given the fun references and the biting satire, No More Heroes oozes style that most games would only dream of. 8-bit HUDs and unique Wii remote sounds for recharging and pre-boss fight phone calls on top of a varied soundtrack and cel-shaded graphics that make the game pop? It's all candy for the senses in a way the Wii wouldn't see again until the likes of MadWorld.
That sense of style also seeps down to the game's boss fights. Travis spends the majority of both games fighting his way to the top of the League of Assassins, all of whom have personalities as colorful and distinct as their outfits. Dr. Peace's stoic Western schtick, the subdued superhero Destroyman, and the sadistic Bad Girl are just a few whose appearances and stories make up for their repetitive fight patterns. There's something about seeing a double laser beam from Destroyman or Charlie MacDonald and his army of cheerleaders fighting Travis in a giant mech that just needs to be experienced to be believed.
Travis has to come up with money to fight all of these kooky assassins. In the first game, he has to cough up $150,000 for the first fight. As scary as that sounds, odd jobs in Santa Destroy pay a lot better than you'd expect. You can collect coconuts and pick up scorpions on the beach or you can slice pizza chain executives in half, but it all adds to the experience of working your way to the top through the eyes of a perpetual man-child.
The second game makes these minigames optional and completely retrofies them to the tune of WarioWare microgames, but either way, they're a nice break from the hack and slashing.
The Wii used to recieve lots of criticism for having fimicky motion controls, but No More Heroes is a game where they were put to very good use. How else does anyone expect you to use a motion rod instead of waving it around like a sword? While you attacked with the A button, you could swpie with the Wii remote and nunchuck to perform kill shots with your sword or grappling moves at close range, and it was seamlessly integrated almost as well here as on any Wii game that came before.