No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle arrived on Nintendo Switch with a sudden, unexpected announcement. Travis Touchdown, the vulgar Johnny Knoxville inspired protagonist, makes his arrival on the Switch. With touched up graphics, the addition of a new control scheme, fans of the series will be pleased with what these ports will have to offer. While the subject matter and presentation of the games haven’t aged particularly well, their visual charms have been entirely retained.
Players assume the role of Travis Touchdown, a loudmouthed, ultra-violent, beam saber-wielding assassin who has presumably gotten in over his head. In the city of Santa Destroy it’s kill or be killed, and Travis is determined to claw his way to the top of the rank for a prize a little too salacious for me to mention. The sequel to No More Heroes, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, follows the same plot threads but throws a larger lineup of assassins as Travis as he risks it all for, well, you’ll probably get the idea.
No More Heroes is stylish and flashy in its violence. The upscaled graphics do both No More Heroes and Desperate Struggle a favor by accentuating its cel-shaded art style and creating a comical, overblown effect for dismemberment. It falls in line with the tone and themes of a series that starts off with a coarse and abrasive introduction that always begins with expletives and over the top violence. These two elements work in tandem with one another. And No More Heroes and its sequel don’t pretend to be anything else than a quick joyride through Santa Destroy with one thing and one thing only on the agenda.
Players have two avenues in which to play No More Heroes and Desperate Struggle—you can choose to play the game as it was intended, wiggling around a Joy-con to charge your beam saber (you eventually control two in Desperate Struggle) and slash through enemies, or with more conventional means. Playing No More Heroes with the controller attachment for the Nintendo Switch worked perfectly well, and functioned excellently. The same can be said for undocked play, which had no slowdown, stuttering, or excessive load times. All-in-all, it’s a functional port of two Wii games that mostly relied upon gimmicks, and those gimmicks have transferred over to the Switch remarkably well.
The mini-games still retain their charm, especially the ones that involve Jeanne, Travis’ feline companion and perhaps my favorite part of engagement outside of boss fights. That being said, the passage of time hasn’t been kind to the slog of having to gather money to progress in both No More Heroes games. They break up what could otherwise be a shorter, more linear and more engaging experience. While there are definitely some mini-games that players will want to return to, they’re still the same time sink as before.
For those unfamiliar with this bit of No More Heroes, I’ll break it down. Both No More Heroes games require players to raise the appropriate funds to take on the contract for any and all assassins that stand in their way to reaching rank one. In the first No More Heroes game, players need to navigate around an open world map to pick up jobs at the job office and then navigate their way to the client. Doing so will start a mini-game that players can play through for cash. Thankfully, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle goes away with the open world aspect of the map and you can just select various locations by navigating through a set menu. However, gathering money remains the same and players will need to sink in a substantial amount of time before they can successfully claw their way to the top.
Outside of that, missions are relatively short and the cast of characters is colorful and rich. The character designs are probably my favorite aspect of No More Heroes, with each assassin having their own gimmick that ties into their visual design in some way, shape, or form. It’s hard to forget characters like Bad Girl and Shinobu. Each boss battle presents players with a new opportunity to show off their skills and Travis’ wrestling moves. No character in the game is particularly likeable, not even Travis Touchdown himself, which makes No More Heroes an interesting game to engage with. I never found myself particularly engaged with Travis’ arc, but it was the bizarre fourth wall breaking storytelling that managed to keep me invested.
No More Heroes and its sequel are interesting games even if they aren’t necessarily good. Combat begins to lose its luster after a handful of hours, with stylish finishers being somewhat limited even for the era in which the games originally released. It’s the concepts that the game produces that make No More Heroes worth picking up, as there really isn’t anything else like it currently available for this console generation. While they may be relics of what feels like a bygone era of gaming now that titles like MadWorld have come and gone, No More Heroes has managed to endure on the Switch.
If you’re looking for an action game that is simple, easy to pick up and put down, and has a unique visual flair look no further. No More Heroes is for you. However, if you’re looking for something with a little more substance mechanically and narratively you’re better off looking elsewhere. That being said, No More Heroes and Desperate Struggle are extremely competent ports, and those who have had their interest piqued by the series in the past will want to give these games a spin.
No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle are immediately available on the Nintendo Switch.