Analysis: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
The No More Heroes Series is a carefully made genius kusoge game series.
And we're not talking about shitty as in bad as in suck bad, we're talking about suck on purpose bad to communicate to the players, since the game is huge on the symbolism and Suda intended it that way. In Japan, a kusoge is a game made intended to be shitty in someway for a purpose, and are fun in themselves. No More Heroes itself as a game meets the minimalistic requirements of fun, and rightfully so, but looking deeper, the game was meant to purposely suck, and various elements scattered about helps drive the point home.
- Travis on the toilet to save. During an interview session with Suda, Goichi himself said that the No More Heroes series was created in the method of like to take a dump, and the sequel was what else was in the colon of his mind. In essence, No More Heroes is the dump of Suda 51 of what didn't go down right regarding video games today and what he doesn't exactly like about it.
- Difficulty levels in the names of tastes. Sweet, Mild, Bitter. No More Heroes usually cranks the difficulty level up in the cheapest way possible, not challenging the player rightfully as a skilled and dignified person, but to change the base mechanics and settings to allow the game to have a higher chance to win than the player by being cheap, from increasing the damage the player gets, and making the enemies and bosses impossibly hard in the most muddling and cheapest. Many games also enjoy doing this, and even the term Nintendo Hard was legitimately built on this currently existing trend. The fact that they are tastes, refer to Suda's question of how the player would like their experience of the game to be and "taste" like through the "ten course meal" like journey of No More Heroes.
- Crashable coding. Sometimes during the games, it can freeze. Players should not suffer to things like these.
- Somewhat undeveloped characterization. Travis himself, as cool as he may be, does not exactly have a personality outside of his perceived "otaku badboy assassin" self. Sure, we do get to see minor glimpses of him show what he's like (manners being served tea, not liking Destroyman), but it's not enough to connect with him other than the themes and symbolism portrayed. The same goes with all of the cast. It sort of leaves this troper wanting more and not seeing it as good and invested storytelling.
- Flash Versus Substance. Santa Destroy and the world of No More Heroes, isn't exactly given much depth regarding the story. Themes and hidden cultural and trivia references are there, but are just as they are- Trivial to the worldly story.
- Ultimately, Suda would like us to take a "dump". While not all of us will get Suda's message, to the ones that do, Suda wants the gamer to sympathize and understand his frustrations and feelings through the game, no matter the reactions may be. He wants us to react and "let loose"- To provoke and cause reaction, to shit on the world that he has shit on himself for something greater.
This is technically a WIP, but feel free to add to it, add in any trope links that I've invariably missed, and put up your own Analysis...es, Analysii? You know what I mean.
No More Heroes 2 can be seen as a satire of American culture, like the first game, but can also be seen as a satire of American media, particularly movies.
Bearing in mind, for this analysis, I will talk about the PAL version, there may be differences in the NTSC versions. So don't say I didn't warn you.
The first point you see this satire is in the intro video, before you even get to Skelter Helter. The whole intro movie features a lot of dark cuts of a familiar location (In this case, Travis' apartment) covered with blood, which just happens to have the credits written into them. The gravelly voiced narrator gives us an Apocolyptic Log
about what happened since the first game, while essentially asking "Where is Travis now?". As the player, you know where he is, you'll be playing as him in a minute. This only serves to make you interested for the next few seconds until the damn game starts.
After the fight with Skelter Helter, Sylvia gives us a really blatant showing of this satire, and tells us "There are some people who started with this sequel and don't care about the story". This is most likely a Take That
against action movie sequels where the plot has no real meaning (For instance, do you really need to see The Expendables
to get the most out of The Expendables 2
This leads on to the most glaring part of this satire of Mr. Sudas, the theme of revenge. This is rife in pretty much all western media, and does actually make a decent starting point for a story, but here, everyone wants someone else to pay for what they have done. Travis wants revenge on Batt for killing his best friend, Batt wants revenge on Travis for killing his family, Skelter Helter wants revenge on Travis for killing his brother, heck, even New Destroyman wants revenge on Travis for slicing him in two. This might look like its just a bit of harmless themeing, until you notice that almost every action sequel is about the main character's loved one/best friend taken from him, and he MUST get them back/get even.
The satire even extends to the actual gameplay itself, there is no Hub Level
, like in the last game, because why would you want to look at atmosphere or setting when you could be BLOWING THINGS UP, or SLAUGHTERING THOSE NASTY MEN. You could even miss actually getting back at the people who killed your best friend, since the revenge missions are completely optional and even appear below the day jobs on the map menu, and can't be replayed like the killing missions in the first game.
Travis has what could almost be described as a Heel Realisation
around Rank 7, when he demands to know why Sylvia has to kill Ryuji, even after he spared his life, and, like the first game, starts to question his motives, about whether he should go through the rigmarole of the UAA again, even if it is to avenge his best friend. He starts to become more human towards the people he fights (while still mowing down wave after wave of Mooks however), he asks that Captain Vladimir is left to die on his own, on the earth he longed to see for so long, he memorises, and maybe takes to heart, the song that plays through Margaret's boss fight ("You think that payback makes you a noble man/ is that a fact/ well you're a god damn philistine"), and he briefly goes insane after killing Alice. The following Roaring Rampage of Revenge
that lasts through the final level seems to kick this out the window though.
Even the title of the game has a cliche in it. Despite the subtitle, I never remember there once being a "Desperate Struggle" (Unless we count Bitter difficulty, now THERE'S a desperate struggle)in the whole game, but it seems to be one of the standard sequel subtitles along with "The Return", or, funnily enough, "The Revenge".
So along with this, and the original No More Heroes, it seems Suda51 has finally managed to make a game that plays great, while still being a tale with a deeper meaning.
Now lets hope he does it again.