No More Heroes 1 and 2 Are Still Worth Playing Through All Over Again on the Switch
Travis Touchdown's first two No More Heroes adventures have finally come to Switch and while the ports aren't anything to write home about, the games are still a ton of fun.
If you have come to know anything about my gaming tastes whatsoever over the past decade or so, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of the No More Heroes franchise. The series, which stars the charismatic Travis Touchdown, first debuted on the Wii in North America back in 2008 and was one of the first games that I played in secrecy behind my parents’ backs. They didn’t want me to hear swear words and perform decapitations with a beam katana, ya know? As such, I have a bit of a soft spot for series, perhaps for childish reasons.
In the time since first releasing, No More Heroes went on to receive a sequel in 2010, entitled Desperate Struggle, and later would return as a top-down action game on the Switch just last year with Travis Strikes Again. While it has taken a long time to get here, No More Heroes 3 is also currently in the works over at Grasshopper Manufacture. Unfortunately, after originally being planned to drop this year, it recently was delayed to 2021. As luck would have it, though, the studio is looking to make the wait until launch just a bit more manageable and has now brought the first two installments over to the Switch.
So how have these ports turned out, you ask? Well, all things considered, they’re absolutely fine. The better news is that, despite some aged gameplay mechanics, both No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle are still a joy to play in 2020.
In a general sense, both NMH and NMH2 on Switch are about what we’ve come to expect from ports of this ilk. Despite the Switch being an HD platform compared to the SD that the Wii offered, each game looks about like what you remembered them to be — which is both a good and bad thing. Both titles don’t look awful by any means, but I wouldn’t use the term “remaster” to describe these new iterations whatsoever. The touch-ups that have been done on the visuals front seem to be nonexistent, with cutscenes in particular not aging too well. Neither No More Heroes title is a looker (they never were back in the day), but with the game’s stylized art and colorful palette, they could definitely look worse.
The biggest changes to both games obviously come in the way of gameplay. No longer are we in the Wii era, which means the motion controls that defined these games to some degree back in the day have been taken out by default. That being said, if moving your arms around to hack apart enemies is still your preferred method of play, the Joy-Cons allow you to make this a reality. I played for a bit with my Switch in its handheld mode and detached the Joy-Cons to give the motion controls a whirl and it’s definitely a one-to-one experience with what it was back in the day. At this point in my gaming life, I think I’m a bit over motion controls, but it’s nice to still have the option available with these new iterations.
Speaking of handheld mode, I do have to acknowledge that I did notice a handful of performance issues while playing in this manner. Even though it didn’t happen a lot, I did notice some frame rate dips while playing in both undocked and docked modes on the Switch. As you might expect, this happened most often whenever there was quite a bit happening on-screen at once. It’s not something that’s going to ruin either game, but hey, be forewarned.
I think the more vital thing here with both No More Heroes titles comes with how they have aged as experiences. I won’t lie, if you’re a first-time visitor to the world of NMH, some aspects of each title won’t be all that fun anymore. In between hacking and slashing nameless baddies, you’ll occasionally have to do odd jobs around town or drive your motorcycle around the empty and somewhat aimless streets of Santa Destroy. The original No More Heroes, specifically, is one of those games that felt like it needed to boast and open-world for no reason other than the fact that it was just the hot thing to do at the time. Thanks, Grand Theft Auto.
That being said, there is still so much to love about both No More Heroes and Desperate Struggle. If you’ve played other games from creator Suda51 in the past, you likely know what I’m referring to here, but each game still has top-tier writing and characters to this day. While some aspects of each game might not be reflected as well in 2020 (Travis, you’re kind of a creep), each is still abounding with enough charm and laughs to keep you entertained until the credits roll. And hey, even though the combat is pretty simple, it’s still darn satisfying.
In short, both No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle aren’t anything worth praising when it comes to their merits as Switch ports, but it is wonderful to finally have all three entries in the series on a single platform. I’ve long evangelized that people need to give this franchise a shot, but with each title being harder to come by over the past few years, I’m over the moon that they’ve finally shown back up on a modern console.
With NMH3 finally releasing next year after an eleven-year waiting period, now is the time to finally revisit these wacky action games or give them a shot for the first time. Don’t let me down.