Afterwords: No More Heroes 2

by Phil Kollar on Feb 11, 2010 at 06:23 AM

The original No More Heroes garnered fairly lukewarm feelings around the office, but we were genuinely impressed by the huge number of improvements and refinements visible in No More Heroes 2. Looking to discover how they went about making the game so much better, we talked with Goichi Suda (i.e. Suda51), the CEO of developer Grasshopper Manufacture.

I read some interviews before No More Heroes 2 was released where you seemed reluctant to be working on a sequel. Did you not really want to do a second game at first? What ended up changing your mind?

I hadn’t planned to do a sequel at first, but the more I thought about Travis, I started to really like him. Then I wanted to keep writing his story and make a sequel.   

While the original No More Heroes was probably your most accessible game so far at the time, No More Heroes 2 is even easier for a wider audience of gamers to get into. Was this something you had in mind while working on the sequel?

We received a lot of feedback on NMH1 from fans, and tried to include that feedback in NMH2. It helps us to improve the game and push it to the extreme to make the game even more fun and action-packed for the fans. The main areas we focused on were enhancing the combat system  and making the game much speedier all-around.  With NMH2, I wanted to create a game that makes people enjoy even just thinking about the game.  

I loved the 8-bit games as side jobs! Where did you get the idea to do that instead of the regular, in-engine side jobs from the first game?

The UI and result screens were 8-bit style in the original NMH1. I was not satisfied and wanted to have more 8-bit style in the game itself. So when we started with NMH2, we decided to make some of the side jobs into 8-bit games. We initially only intended for a few of the side jobs to be 8-bit style, but during the process of development, our team got carried away and ended up making almost all of the side jobs (except one) into that style. I think it turned out well.

While you clearly seem to draw on anime and other video games to help create some of the funnier parodies in No More Heroes 2, you also have those dark, sort of sexy flash-forward segments before each boss battle. Those seemed very inspired by film noir. Were there any specific movies, TV shows, or anything else that were inspirations for No More Heroes 2?

I was very much inspired by the movie called Paris, Texas. The main character in the movie was also named Travis. This movie is one of my favorites of all time. 

Also, the composition of some of the intense fighting sequences was inspired by a Japanese movie called Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Deathmatch.

No More Heroes 2 continues the first game's tradition of some really crazy boss fights. My personal favorite was the returning boss, Destroy Man. How did you decide who to bring back for the second game? Is there anyone else you wish could have returned but you couldn't fit into the game?

I like Destroy Man a lot too. Before writing the script for NMH2, I knew that I wanted to make Destroy Man return. Another character I liked from NMH1 was Doctor Shake, a boss character that players couldn‘t fight in NMH1. I wanted fans to actually be able to play against this character this time around. I personally wanted to see a Bad Girl again. There were five other characters I had in mind which were not selected as boss characters.

Who's your personal favorite boss in No More Heroes 2?

Charlie MacDonald and the Cheerleaders.

You've got bosses who parody superheroes, samurai, and even fangirls. What's the process like for coming up for a new boss? Do you just figure out what kind of nerdy topic you'd like to poke fun at and work from there?

We grouped as a team and brainstormed with Ichiki (game designer), Kozaki-san (Character designer), Koyama-san (Mechanic designer), and Okama-san. We put many flashy ideas on the board and then decided what we liked and what we wanted to use for the game. We used the same method for NMH1 to decide the characters. Everyone had nerdy topics of their own, and if we liked them, we translated them into images that would eventually become the bosses. 

I'm also curious how you chose the settings for various levels, as they're often quite unique. You've got a level in a supermarket, a skyscraper, a baseball stadium, etc. Were there reasons for each choice or was it just locations you'd expect to find in Santa Destroy?

The settings for various levels are locations in one small town in America. The image of the overall town is influenced by the setting of the movie A Field of Honor.

While I find the parody elements of No More Heroes 2 the most entertaining, not everything in the game is funny. In fact, it seems like there are a lot of more serious moments in the game, from Travis's quest for revenge right down to the ending. Were you trying to make a less light-hearted game this time around, or are the serious parts still not meant to be taken too seriously?

The story itself is serious, but after players encounter Travis and his unique personality, their impression will change. Most will find that even though the plot is serious, not everything else is.

Near the end of No More Heroes 2, Travis's brother, Henry, takes out several ranked fighters for Travis and leaves him a message joking that there's "no way to play through these fights" because the game's too packed already. So...is there really no way to play through them or can those extra fights be unlocked somehow?

I am sorry to let you know, but you cannot play the extra fights.

A lot of noise has been made about how difficult it is to sell third-party games on the Wii. What are your feelings on this topic? Do you think Nintendo's success makes it difficult for anyone who's not Nintendo to make it big on the Wii?

No comment on this. 

You've made comments about the No More Heroes series continuing on a new platform. Do you expect to make a No More Heroes 3? And do you think No More Heroes 2 might eventually be rereleased on Xbox 360 like the original in Japan?

If there is a chance to continue No More Heroes, I am interested in making NMH3. I personally think that NMH is a game for Wii, so I would be very happy if I could make a game for the Wii’s successor, whenever that might be. I was not involved in the production of the 360 version of NMH1, so I don’t know anything about that. 

More than many game creators, it seems like you're interested in actually saying something with your games. What's the message you hope to get across with No More Heroes 2?

I want players to feel the way that Travis feels and lives as they playing through his battles. Travis is the kind of person who is an unlikely hero and doesn’t want to be the center of attention. But after being offered a big stage, he grows up slowly and becomes a real hero at the end. I want players to feel that anyone could be a hero through Travis.

I also want players to feel like Travis is accessible to everyone. I want them to relate to him. I also want them to see that while Travis gets rest in the bathroom and makes money by doing side jobs, he is a hero in the end. 

Thanks so much for interviewing me.