Games on the Wii aren't always pretty. In fact, the Wii tends to celebrate the old, the retro, the kitschy throwback titles so often seen on the Virtual Console. The Wii isn't capable of HD, and its graphics aren't in the same ballpark as the those of Xbox 360 and PS3.
This is why we're often excited by original Wii games that, rather than try to replicate what higher-octane HD gaming systems such as the Xbox 360 and PS3 are doing, instead branch off and lay claim to the Wii's unique qualities. Ubisoft's No More Heroes franchise is a classic example of this, but is the newly released sequel also a good game?
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a sequel to the equally bizarre original designed by Suda 51, an artist/designer known for an aesthetic in gaming that's as much about artsy statement as it is about "fun gaming." As the game's ridiculous, murderous hero Travis Touchdown, you're off to compete in a repetitive series of boss battles against psychopathic killer-heroes in an attempt to be the No. 1. Each mission tends to consist of a very linear journey through subvillains on the way to this boss attack, and the game's 3D look is angular and even ugly at times. This is deliberate: in fact, No More Heroes 2 is almost a celebration of old-school gaming, down to its Nintendo Entertainment System-era minigames, scratchy, degraded-looking cut scenes, and 8-bit sound effects.
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Does the game make sense? No, it's madness. You give your cat a workout in one series of games, and can spend time playing a disturbingly sexual arcade shooter on your character's living-room TV, all of which seems like it's parodying the ridiculousness of "real-world" games like Grand Theft Auto.
Assassination missions are given to you by a big-busted hostess, and the adolescent sexual fantasies and toilet-based waypoints are simultaneously juvenile and funny. The blood-soaked nunchuck-based attack moves, combining motion controller moves with button-mashing, are trigger-quick and satisfying. Ammo upgrades and other unlockables are weird and somewhat useless, but that's what this game is largely about: celebrating the absurdity of video games.
Though the main adventure is on the short side, the library of 8-bit retro minigames are a great bunch of fun as well. It's ugly, it's messy, but No More Heroes 2 is also inspired. Just make sure, no matter what, that you rent or play this game before buying.
No More Heroes 2 is certainly one of the Wii's most ambitious franchises. From an aesthetic point of view, it's a visual gem, pushing the hardware limits of the Wii. As an action game, it controls well and provides a solid challenge for any fan of the genre. There's no doubt we love No More Heroes 2; we're just not sure it's accessible enough beyond being the "artsy film" of gaming.
Being an M-rated game on the Wii isn't easy these days, but for those who are desperate for such a title, the wait is over. No More Heroes 2 is an over-the-top action romp with tons of blood and naughty language, but beneath these gratuitous elements lays an expertly crafted action game. Sure, some Wii motion elements may feel a bit phoned in, but they don't allow the game's focus to detach.
Perhaps the most charming element of No More Heroes 2 is the often referenced 8-bit gaming theme that is seen throughout the experience. It's no secret the title's executive producer Suda 51 is obsessed with the era, and No More Heroes 2 feeds directly off of it.
Wii gamers who lived through the days of the NES will no doubt relate with No More Heroes 2, but the game may fly just over the heads of newcomers. It just might be tough to appreciate the deliberate attempt to make the game act like it's from the good old days of cartridges if you weren't a part of that generation of gaming to being with.