I’m a simple man. I love No More Heroes, and I’ve wanted it on Nintendo Switch ever since I got my hands on the hybrid-handheld console three years ago. I’ve been craving a proper sequel to the hyperviolent Suda 51 directed saga of No More Heroes for even longer, and while a third mainline entry is coming next year, I’ve been itching for a more polished way to re-experience my favorite Nintendo Wii games. Imagine my surprise when, on my literal birthday, Nintendo decides to stealth release HD ports of No More Heroes 1 and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle onto the Nintendo Switch eShop. With zero build-up and hardly any fanfare, Nintendo has casually dropped the best versions of these games onto their latest console for newcomers and Suda 51 die-hards alike to dig into.
The premise of No More Heroes 1, for the uninitiated, is brutally simple and instantly charming. A dorky anime and wrestling obsessed dude named Travis Touchdown happens to blow all of his cash winning a lightsaber on an online auction site. Soon after, he runs into a gorgeous woman named Sylvia at his local bar in Santa Destroy, and she instantly charms him into a nutso side-hustle: use that new sword of his to murder the top 10 ranked assassins in the city, becoming number 1 and raking in oodles of cash in the process.
It shouldn’t be any surprise, but plenty of blood is spilled in Travis Touchdown’s quest to reach number 1. For some players, this port will be the first time they’re seeing all that blood, as the original game was heavily censored in some regions. There are a lot of other technical improvements in this port, too, like near instant load times that turn the creative and lengthy loading-screens of the original game into nothing more than brief scene transitions.
The game also spits out a resolution of 720p, which looks way clearer than it did on the Nintendo Wii. The game shoots for 60FPS, too, and it achieves it…for the most part. You’ll get minor slowdown in battles where there are hordes of goons onscreen at once, but while you’re driving your motorcycle around town to find your next mission or dig t-shirts out of trash cans the framerate will flip-flop between 30fps and 60fps pretty regularly.
One of the best parts of this port is the updated control options for the game. The original Nintendo Wii release of No More Heroes 1 employed a fusion of motion controls and button-inputs as you hacked and slashed and suplexed your way through suited hitmen and wild ranked assassins. Those motion controls return on the Nintendo Switch, as the game lets you use dual Joy-Con input to play.
Pressing buttons to attack and block while you wave your Joy-Con to switch sword stances, deal finishing blows, and recharge your beam katana with that all-too-iconic jerk-off motion is a delight. If you decide to disable motion-controls, though, you’ll find that a lot of the combat systems feel a lot faster. You’re able to chain together high and low katana attacks like you never could with motion controls, and recharging your beam katana by waggling the right-stick, while way less goofy, is also way faster. Both methods are viable, and both are fun as hell.
Now, this isn’t the first time No More Heroes has been ported to a different console. The game saw a PS3 re-release titled No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise. Among many fans of the series and even series director Suda 51, though, this port gets a bad rap. While it boasts some nice depth-of-field and sharper textures, it also alters the art-style and inky shading of the original game in a way that many people didn’t appreciate. Plus, it had a rough as hell framerate. While those issues are a disappointment, the PS3 port had a lot of quality-of-life improvements, and added content only served to enhance the experience. New mini-games, a new difficulty mode, and a handful of new combat features would have all been great additions to this Nintendo Switch port.
There are very few autuer directors in the video game industry, which makes it all the more impressive when a video game director does end up achieving that status. Suda 51, without a doubt, is one of the most talented and expressive game developers out there, and the No More Heroes series is a perfect expression of what makes his work so memorable. Western and Eastern culture is tossed into a blender full of blood and rock music, and the result is one of the most iconic games of the Nintendo Wii era.