No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
I avoided the first game on release because of it’s “cool violence” look, not realising the brilliant satire on games and gamers contained therein. Once I corrected that oversight I was eagerly looking forward to the sequel which many have raved about, though I was a bit cautious given some of the changes. Having played through it for the first time, those reservations were nicely put to bed and cemented my opinion of No More Heroes as possibly the best franchise on the Wii.
The great thing about this sequel is that it doesn’t replace or invalidate the first game, which can often happen in a sequel due to a misguided attempt to “fix” everything “wrong” in its predecessor. The changes both to the overworld, side missions and mini-games mean the original still has its own flavour and appeal. They are distinct games, but clearly rooted in the same world and use similar control schemes so fans of the first will feel right at home once they start fighting in Desperate Struggle. For the motion-impaired the Classic Controller is also supported, though really I don’t understand how doing wrestling moves can be fun without motions.
The visuals have been tarted up (as have the ladies, with some added “jiggle physics”), but still have that appealing cell-shaded look which makes 3D graphics look a lot less ugly to me. Also welcome is the return of the voice talent from the first outing, though I do miss the garbled, incomprehensible Engrish of some of the shop staff from the first game.
The mini-games are a real treat, mostly presented in simulated 8-bit glory. “Man the Meat” is my personal favourite: as much fun to mess up as to succeed and a great one-button game in its own right.
Though some have complained the battles don’t feel as fun as the first game I have to disagree. There’s some well-designed characters here, it’s just that the nature of the intros have changed. They still have well-defined personalities and the settings for the fights have a lot of variety (the 4th ranked battle is a stand-out). Even in Sweet difficulty you’ll get a run for your money and there’s a surprisingly creepy element to some of the fights.
If you liked the first game then this one is a no-brainer: great music, great dialogue, great gameplay and bags of style. Grasshopper really knows their stuff and I’m ready for more!
Salamander (Virtual Console PC Engine)
I picked this up along with the Gradius games which I reviewed in the last round-up and like the Gradius games on the PC Engine this is a fabulous port of the arcade classic which many outside of Japan will know better by the name “Life Force.” No flickering, great music, great animation and fine detail. It’s a challenging 2D shooter that combines side and vertical scrolling elements. Unfortunately only the inferior Famicom version is available outside of Japan and even then only in North America. Needless to say I strongly advocate anyone who’s a fan of the Virtual Console pick up a Japanese Wii at some point because the VC service is so much more worthwhile and this game is a primary case in point.
Space Invaders: The Original Game (Virtual Console PC Engine)
Why would I buy this again when I already have the SNES version on my PAL Wii? Well, partially it’s because I’m abandoning the VC on the PAL system due to the presence of poor PAL conversions for the Nintendo and Sega platforms and partially it’s down to liking all my VC content in one place. But the biggest reason is I’m a big fan of Space Invaders and I really hate plugging in a Classic Controller simply because the Virtual Console requires it for all SNES games. I had no idea this even existed for the PC Engine and was gutted when I saw I could have the game cheaper and play it remote-only, but Taito cannot have enough of my money so I’ve decided to double-dip.
Now that I have it, I can say it’s a bit of a mixed bag. It’s pretty much the same as the SNES version, so if you have a Japanese Wii this is the one to get, though annoyingly it’s also like the SNES version in not saving your high scores as you need to do a virtual system reset (press start/selected/I/II buttons at the same time) to return to the main menu. As a result I’ve kept it on the version I like best (the planet backdrop with translucent invaders) and resume my game thanks to the handy save-state feature of the VC. Of course if anyone ever wants to play the 2-player versus mode I’ll either have to lose my score or download the SNES version on my PAL Wii for multiplayer, which really sucks.