Sunday, July 14, 2013
Top 10 Games of the Seventh Generation Consoles - #2: No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
While there have been plenty of solid sequels and revamps of classic titles on the seventh generation titles, few developers have dared to tread into brand-new territory. Few have dared to create something so bold as No More Heroes. Much as I love the Mass Effect sequels, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and the other games that found their way onto this list, they are all sequels or spiritual successors to previous releases. Though the No More Heroes titles do draw inspiration from contemporary hack-and-slash action titles and 8-bit arcade-y games, the culmination is a wonderful breath of fresh air, not just to the genre, but to video games as an entertainment medium.
Both the original No More Heroes and its sequel Desperate Struggle are (among other things) unapologetic – Travis Touchdown slices and dices his foes into bloody pools, spouting off vulgar one-liners during his moments of downtime that are equal parts awesome and silly. The original game defined a brand-new experience and was one of the earliest Wii titles to really nail the motion controls down by balancing those with a traditional button/joystick combo. While No More Heroes boasts many a colorful environment and memorable assassin, the sequel cleaned up the entire experienced, streamlining the overworld and amping up the combat just enough that it was more fast-paced without teetering into the realm of frenetic.
The sequel also saw a more focused, darker story – one of Travis seeking revenge – which still managed to balance the silly with the gritty. While the first game was more off-the-walls goofy, the references to Star Wars and Back to the Future therein seemed unorganized and random compared to the sequel’s mecha boss fight between robots inspired by anime Space Runaway Ideon and Gurren Lagann, or a narrow forest whose twisted dead trees and red night sky were an obvious nod to Capcom’s explosively popular Resident Evil 4. Instead of giving off the impression that the game was chock full of ideas that creator Suda51 thought were cool, NMH2 came across as more of a love letter – not only to the creative minds behind the works Suda was paying homage to, but to fans of the original NMH as well.
Personally, I am a bit partial to Desperate Struggle. It’s much easier to jump into, has a higher degree of replayability due to its time attack Death Match mode and general faster pacing. But I won’t deny that the boss fights in the original No More Heroes were some of the best I’ve experienced in any game. Being such a huge fan as I am of the Legend of Zelda series, that is the standard with which I compare the boss fights of any and all other video games, and it is incredibly rare that another title provides as consistently high-quality encounters. But the UAA ranking matches in the NMH games are truly something to behold – a brilliant mesh of flair and challenge that defines the core of the experience.