With a name like Touchdown, what's not to like?
If you are unfamiliar with the series, No More Heroes revolves around the fictional city of Santa Destroy and follows the main character and Otaku Travis Touchdown. In the first game, Travis climbed the ranks of an assassinís guild, claiming the number one spot and becoming the best at his profession. Ití is still a little foggy on how the story will unfold this time around, but what has been clear is that Travisí second adventure will be focused around revenge. It has been a few years since the events of No More Heroes and Travis has fallen out of the ranks of the guild. Mr. Touchdown has found the need to regain his title as the best assassin, so you can be sure that his climb back to the top will be bloody mess.
What we have seen included a small run through of a level and an elaborate boss fight against a groupie throwing, beat box carrying, fur coat wearing rapper of some sort. The game is still just as crazy as the predecessor. The characters look to remain zany and over the top like original. At one point during the boss battle, while the enemy was shooting missiles from his beat box, chandeliers began falling and the carpet became an automated conveyor belt. It created a cinema-like encounter that is only seen in ridiculous Hollywood movies.
The visuals haven't changed much. The game still sports its stylish cell-shaded look, and one can only barely tell if the graphics have been upgraded.
New methods to the madness
The controls have undergone slight changes. The beam katana recharge mechanic has been changed from an up and down pumping motion to a side to side waggle charge. This was somewhat of an unwelcome change as it seems less sensitive, although this could possibly just be the unfamiliarity talking. Another change is that after taking a knockdown, a player must now jam on the A button until Travis stands up. This feels very unnatural and often very tedious. Again these issues could just be caused by resistance to change.
Speaking of change, one of the problems with the original No More Heroes was the lack of polish and detail. The world almost seemed empty at times. Though the style and presentation was fantastic, it was unpopulated and minor control issues created small nuisances to occur throughout gameplay. This gave the game an unfinished feel, like an incomplete thought.
The biggest concern with the newest iteration will be substance. Most of the complaints from the last No More Heroes game surrounded the time spent during missions between boss battles. Mundane and nearly pointless tasks were set in front of the player to break up the action and add hours to the gameplay. Most felt these unnecessary as well as poorly done. There will be more side missions in No More Heroes 2, although this time they are presented with a stylish 2-d retro feel. There is no doubt that the presentation of these mini games will be spot on, but if it turns out that they are a simplistic as before, players and critics will be a lot less forgiving this time around.
In the first game, Travis was limited to three different katanas. Each played similarly and slightly increased the damage while varying Travisí blade technique. In No More Heroes 2, there are two dramatically different choices: the giant beam katana and the dual wielded katanas. The giant is of course a longer but slower weapon while the dual ones are katanas held in each hand. From a stylistic perspective, the dual katanas are awesome but besides that there needs to be more. In using them, during one of the attack animations, Travis is left open to attack. This is a huge disadvantage. So what will be the advantage? Besides looking cool, there must be something to make up for their shortcomings. The same goes with the giant katana. The game must offer a reason to use these weapons besides a visual enhancement. The success of No More Heroes 2 revolves around the designer's ability to make improvements relevant to the game play. If they serve a purpose and make the player want to use them, it will really move the series along and create a freshness for the sequel. If they are just somewhat cool weapons that take a back seat to utility, then No More Heroes 2 will not be much of a change from the first game.
Set to deliver
In the end, the first No More Heroes was a success because of interesting characters, tight controls, clever game design, and over the top violence and humor. It is obvious that the sequel will include all of these. SUDA-51 has acknowledged the first gameís faults and is looking to improve on the next chapter of this story. Currently the game is set to be released in January 2010, but we will have to wait to see if the game makes its date.