Matt’s No More Heroes Retrospective

Matt’s No More Heroes Retrospective

[Music] here we go taking a kill trip on death row with the third mainline entry no more heroes set to tear the galaxy apart this week i felt like it was a great synergistic algorithmic time to dive into the series as a whole with a cheeky retrospective the origins of grasshopper the sword killer trilogy and of course the tender of the garden of madness himself goichi suda51 so grab your bean katana and slip on your most embarrassing anime shirt because it’s time to kill or be killed after leaving human entertainment and the happy go lucky world of fire pro behind him goichi suda started up his own indie game development studio called grasshopper manufacture putting out niche releases like flower sun rain the silver case and of course their big breakout hit michigan report from hell [Music] nah i mean killer seven the bizarrely stylish third-person braille shooter hybrid was a collaboration with capcom’s shinji mikami and while embraced by hardcore fans wasn’t exactly a blockbuster success what it did lead to though was other opportunities for grasshopper such as two licensed games based on anime properties published by our good friends down at nam kai bando this duo blood plus one last kiss and samurai champloo sidetracked both released in 2006 kicked off suda’s fascination with fast-paced melee combat so much so that he wanted to reiterate it further with a brand new ip since the xbox 360 was the first hd console out of the gate and with microsoft just throwing cash in any japanese studio willing to support it suda’s original plan was for this new game dubbed project heroes to be an exclusive unbound by a license heroes was designed to be a melting pot of everything grasshopper had put out up to that point cramming in all the references and cinematic aesthetics and flair that killer 7 had hinted at and by this time suda had struck up a relationship with yasuhiro wada the president of entertainment which had been fostered ever since both companies had teamed up on contact for the ds at the start of 2006. wada had been given early access to nintendo’s newest system then known as the revolution and thought sudo would enjoy a quick peek seeing the odd but fascinating handheld remote was all it took as it would be the perfect fit for the sword swinging gameplay suda had in mind thus the xbox version had its spleen slashed in two suda wanted to really dive in upon what was started in the namco anime games and would later go on to say that this trio blood sidetracked and no more heroes made up the sword killer trilogy but designing everything around the wii remote would require a lot of testing and experimentation so the team put their all into it they were focused on making this their most ambitious title yet unshackled by the rails of killer 7 and aiming for the game to have worldwide appeal at the same time though grasshopper knew not to over design or stretch themselves out too thin yeah this was going to be their first open world game but they weren’t aiming to overthrow grand theft auto or anything boss fight story and combat were their priority not scope or interactivity the game was confined to the borders of the fictional californian city of santa destroy where our unlikely hero travis touchdown is wasting away in a local bar having just won a homemade beam katana legally distinct on an online auction he bemoans has passed in a drunken stupor when he’s approached by one sylvia crystal with alkie hall running through his veins he doesn’t mean much convincing by sylvia to engage in fisticuffs outside with a mysterious stranger a stranger who just so happens to be number 11 in the united assassins association rankings travis actually winds up killing him which then sets him on a bloody path to becoming number one with added encouragement by sylvia of course [Music] go any higher and i will kill you myself this menagerie of maniacal killers includes navigating your way through the barren almost lifeless streets of santa destroy in your hunt for these bosses is an instantly sobering affair as you spend long stretches just commuting back and forth between soul-crushing jobs how the streets of santa destroy were depicted and just how little there is to do in them has been defended by some as some type of meta commentary by suda but let’s be real here this was grasshopper’s first attempt at an open world and they were not a big studio but despite all the blood sweat and tears being put into the game soda still felt in terms of combat it was feeling uh a little limp we found that attacking with only motion controls was exhausting so that’s when we added the use of the a button we made about four or five iterations before we nail the combat therefore killing in no more heroes has been described quite accurately i think as akin to working on a typewriter or keyboard with big hits of the spacebar as the motion-controlled exclamation points this is what set the game apart from waggle-centric action fare like everything you see here which was flooding the wii at the time confident in his creation and leading up to its uneventual unsheathing tsudu would say more and more attention grabbing things to try and get a cheap headline which absolutely worked he stated that no more heroes was going to be more violent than manhunt 2 the measuring stick at that time which when you consider the amount of decapitations and dismemberments by travis’s hands is technically true moreover when yours truly was testing the north american version of the game i was tasked with typing up the esrb checklists for all the violent acts contained therein which included things like writing boss character is cut in half by a giant buzzsaw and the nipples continued to fire long after death fortunately the tongue-in-cheek style in which these events are presented stopped no more heroes from getting too dark or cruel what was cruel though was despite suda’s protests the european and japanese versions of the game would need to be censored to ensure could even be sold there so the geysers of blood were replaced with coins and black ash when no more heroes hacked its way into stores in late 2007 in japan and early 2008 for the rest of the world its sense of humor style eclectic roster bosses and strangely captivating pro tag struck a chord with fans and reviewers alike much like how killer 7 did i’ll admit you’ve got potential if challenge had a taste you’d be quite delicious catch up later okay what the music was also especially notable as it was incredibly varied and catchy containing a little bit of just about everything on a personal level this soundtrack also has one of my favorite pieces of music of all time shinobu’s theme season of the samurai now don’t get it twisted though the city of santa destroy had its fair share of rough edges with some still disliking motion controls the empty open world and the required job grinding in between ranking battles that last one though i will contend was totally done by design this is hammered home whenever you talk to quest givers who are always cutting promos about putting your nose to the grindstone paying your dues and other euphemisms for busting your ass suda and the team pulled from just about everything johnny knoxville to el toppo the stranglers momento animes baseballs all wrapped up in a distinctive punk rock style i wanted travis to be like a big schoolboy who sometimes jokes around and is sometimes deeply serious and who loves to fight travis is a little similar to me if i had been an american otaku what kind of life would i have led of course i would have been a top-ranked assassin he’s a very human character and one that fits within an action game even with that said suda at one point wasn’t all that attached to travis touchdown in fact he was cool with letting the character be a one-off creation as the project was wrapping up the plan had been to kill off travis by the game’s end via silvia crystal gunning him the [ __ ] down cooler heads prevailed in the end obviously which is not typical for grasshopper as they rarely make sequels but i guess they decided to make an exception for mr touchdown remember suda loves killing off his protags even in blood he had wanted to kill saya or a clone of hers to shock the player but this was a rebuffed enthusiastically by the namco employee was overseeing that particular game so it was kind of always a 50 50 chance that travis could befall a similar fate but it’s a good thing he didn’t while sales of no more heroes in japan were you know embarrassingly low the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the world it managed to carve out a nice niche in both europe and north america and while exact lifetime numbers are not known the original wii version sits in the neighborhood of around half a million copies sold which up until then was grasshopper’s biggest success travis also started becoming a sort of mascot’s too strong award a spokesperson for the wii and sort of fit in a weird way with the machine’s unconventional style the game sold better than its north american publisher ubisoft was probably expecting and once grasshopper received the good news that the west liked assassins bean katanas and cats a sequel was immediately greenlit normal heroes [Music] [Music] travis touchdown was going to return not for fame money or even nookie but for revenge 2010’s no more heroes 2 desperate struggle was in the strictest sense a direct follow-up taking place two years after the original and adhering to much the same formula while the graphics combat controls and grinding nature of the side jobs were either fixed or improved the game’s boss fights level design overall length and story all took a few steps back suda busy with just having co-directed fatal frame 4 as well as still writing and producing shadows of the damned took a back seat on desperate struggle and slid into an executive director role while nobutaka ichiki stepped in as the primary the biggest change to the game was not improving the open world concept of santa destroyed but eliminating it together simplifying it to just a list of locations you choose from a menu i get that it was the most divisive part of the first game but i would have liked to have seen grasshopper fleshing it out rather than just cutting it in addition the need for travis to earn enough scratch to advance to each boss was also overhauled instead letting the player take on each assassin as soon as they liked any money you did earn from the new 8-bit retro mini-games would exclusively go towards buying clothes and pumping up travis’s stats while you could take on bosses without these boosts it’s not exactly recommended the story such as it is sees travis wanting to exact vengeance on whoever killed bishop that’s not a spoiler but this act was done to get revengeance on travis in the first place for something he did anyway with santa destroy having gone through a resurgence in the last couple of years and with no solid leads travis just happens to bump into sylvia who then sets up a series of fights against 51 other assassins who somehow leap frogged over travis in the rankings despite never beating him oh and the number one ranked killer is also the person that had bishop killed again not a spoiler that’s the basic story setup and it’s not all that concerned with making any sense the tone is far more serious this time around but we’ll still dip into straight up comedy at random intervals which makes things feel uneven compared to the first game i can’t exactly explain why but sue decided the film battles without honor and humanity deadly fight in hiroshima as a direct influence on desperate struggles narrative and while certainly you know not bad the tale presented here just isn’t as memorable as the first game in fact even though it tries really hard almost everything about no more heroes 2 doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor in my opinion for example the ost as a whole while still very good doesn’t have as many bangers the bosses which are light years beyond those and a lot of other games get less screen time and backstory this time around and while it’s certainly quick to navigate a menu not being able to explore sand and destroy in a more fleshed out way was a bit of a disappointment to a lot of fans the combat though feels much more polished and flows a lot better being able to choose between various beam katanas on the fly while incredibly slow is a nice upgrade and the retro style mini games are all good fun except for tile and style of course it’s a game of one step forward about half a step back which is weirdly accurate as both games reviewed almost identically despite all that i own the japanese hopper edition which is the centerpiece of my no more heroes collection thank you very much by 2010 though the wii craze was slowing down way down with many third-party titles selling far worse than the milken honey days of 2006-2008 it’s not a surprise that desperate’s struggle sold a fraction of what the first game did even in the west while a lot of factors certainly contributed to this no more heroes 2 did miss out on a big opportunity by getting bumped off ubisoft’s big e3 2009 stage show an elaborate trailer featuring pseudo51 himself had been filmed but since the presentation by james i’m gonna ramble for 25 minutes about blue cat people cameron dragged on desperate struggle’s big moment never happened the trailer in question was posted online without much mainstream fanfare later that e3 week moving on the very next year another wrinkle in the no more heroes timeline occurred while not confirmed it’s probable that marvelous entertainment was worried about the sequel’s performance so to remedy that they farmed out ports of nomore heroes 1 for both the playstation 3 and xbox 360 in japan why they even bothered with the 360 over there as anyone’s guess but these versions well they’re a bit confusing heroes paradise both released in japan had some new content hd visuals a few quality of life improvements pointless dlc a model viewer extra bugs and finally poorer frame rates heroes paradise was developed by feel plus makers of juan the grudge and did not involve suda or the original creative team in any significant capacity if you’d like me to spill a bit of tea here grasshopper in general and suda specifically didn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about these ports as they seem to be a pure business decision on marvelous part then konami of all companies stepped in to publish just the ps3 version for the west as i’m assuming ubisoft had long stopped caring about the franchise this version also called heroes paradise was set to receive even more content added mini-games cobbled together from existing assets [Music] moves support online leaderboards and 5 bosses from no more heroes 2 shoehorned in as bonus cage matches since they were never designed for this game they just happen every so often and lack any sort of context or cutscenes explaining their presence now again konami didn’t even bother to release the xbox 360 version overseas even though it was fully completed and just sitting there why is this well by having the playstation move controller it’s much easier to keep the interaction true to the original so going to the ps3 was a pretty natural choice we have and are still tossing around ideas for linking no more heroes with the kinect for xbox 360 gamers but since the kinect is such a unique device it’s a bit more difficult this isn’t to say that the kinect is a poor interface by any means citation needed but more that in its uniqueness it requires a bit more care and planning to bring travis to the xbox 360. so if we were to do so we need more time which i guess they never got moreover the playstation 3 version had dual shock 3 compatibility so there was literally no reason not just to do a quick port of the 360 version for other territories but this is konami i’m i’m talking about here you try to make sense of their 2011 madness the north american ps3 version was then re-released in japan under the red zone moniker and put back in the blood and gore that had always eluded the franchise in its home country you’re a junkie for blood old man well technically the game’s a messy hodgepodge and the new content is pretty lackluster fieldplus did add in a few smart tweaks like being able to stock special moves and go dumpster diving from the seat of travis’s bike at the end of the day though hero’s paradise is generally seen by the gnomer heroes community as an oddity that wasn’t approved by the original creative team and most hardcore fans of the wii original stayed away while i again can’t find exact lifetime numbers reportedly neither the ps3 nor xbox 360 version sold well in any country so much so that they didn’t even bother with hd ports of no more heroes too okay while i’ve used the word obscure a few times now nothing out obscures our next game no more heroes world ranker for android and ios was a 2012 mobile game where players could create their own assassin to rise through the ranks it featured touchscreen only controls multiplayer and social elements and reused a ton of assets from the first two games honestly i have to say there’s something about this that has a concrete appeal but unfortunately the rest of the world was denied world ranker as it never saw a release outside japan the only playable piece of the no more heroes universe i have yet to touch following the muted response of desperate struggle grasshopper manufacturer started to focus on other projects and mr 51 shifted to more of a business producing style role there’s killer is dead shadows of the damned and lollipop chainsaw which if you forgot was adapted into english by james gunn and sold well over a million copies and became at that time grasshopper’s biggest moneymaker it’s pretty apparent that travis helped inspire these new heroes kooky badasses with a penchant for wisecracks and making things dead all of these new titles had something in common though none of them were actually directed by goichi suda who aside from a few outliers seem to have stepped away to give more room to up-and-coming grasshoppers a great example of this was let it die which went for a very different business model and structure and while it was a big risk for the company it seems to have done pretty well all told during this decade of experimentation since desperate struggle though suda started hearing pleas from fans all over the world myself included to have travis touchdown pick up the beam katana once again while the ending of of no more heroes 2 was pretty extremely vague suda had always dropped hints that he would like to continue telling stories in santa destroy even if it meant focusing on a new assassin this plan never really seemed to come together though that is until nintendo unveiled the switch and started to once again print money i think sudo was probably right to wait as the wii u outside of nintendo’s own offerings wasn’t exactly the best venue for anything really however with the low sales of no more heroes 2 still in the back of their minds there was a bit of trepidation and how to approach a new entry in the franchise with the meteoric rise of indie gaming during travis’s 10-year hiatus suda and grasshopper went for a different approach enter travis strikes again no more heroes our favorite otaku loser was off the grid living the trailer life in the wilds of texas and spending his days playing the legendary underground video game console the death drive mark ii conversely bad man the father of no more hero 1’s bad girl is coerced by dan smith of the smith syndicate to assassinate travis and grants him a mysterious object called a death ball to aid him in this undertaking tracking him down batman ambushes travis in his trailer but the death drive reacts to the death ball sucking them both into the inner workings of the machine if they can fight their way out of each game the death drive will grant them one single wish which will hopefully let the dreams come true try the strikes again is weird there’s no way around it as it’s laser focused on telling a bizarre level based story that also feels oddly personal it plays quite differently too more of a wave-based beat-em-up platformer that’s best enjoyed while playing co-op with a buddy assassin while it may seem like a side story it actually advances the overall plot in some significant ways and if you’re a fan of grasshopper it is absolutely required plain originally though tsa was going to be more ambitious while still retaining the tighter design and indie feel instead of holy original death drive game worlds travis was going to jump to other game franchises literally such as shovel knight and hotline miami just to name a few even though suda really wanted to make this work having to go back and forth with a bunch of different studios through language berries and time zones presented some clear logistical complications that would hamper progress so grasshopper did what they tended to do pairing things back in an effort to remain focused and not to overstretch themselves and in the end the t-shirt collaborations are still pretty charming even with that sudden decision sudo was still able to get some other game worlds in there if you’ve played tsa then you know exactly what i’m talking about and while not every original theme they came up with is a winner [ __ ] off coffee and donuts the inclusion of visual novel elements which hearken back to grasshoppers earlier days more than make up for this these are so fun and so sharply written that i tended to look forward to them more than the action stages it even came with expansions that featured two fan favorites as playable characters and while the whole package isn’t exactly what some people wanted it still felt really good to have torubisu touch it down striking once again thankfully due to the pre-orders and eventual sales success of tsa for both the physical and digital versions a first for the series no more heroes 3 was officially greenlit it’s taken over 10 years constant fan outcry and just the right timing for this to happen and having experienced a bit of the game myself already i think it’s been well worth the wait not only that the recent remasters for switch and steam are excellent options if you’re looking to go back to them are appropriately priced and stay true to grasshoppers original vision this is a series that means a lot to me it’s irreverent humor unique world larger than life characters and distinctive style make for such an intoxicating fluid that just someone please just hoes me down with it i want it i need it travis you know he was even in well bits of him were in dragon’s dogma and he’s in smash you know kinda so on a personal level here it’s been such a thrill to have seen this franchise evolve ever since i first got to work on it even in a very small capacity all the way back in 2007 i hope you’re all equally as geared up to return to the streets of santa destroy so thanks again for taking the time to watch this retrospective and for those of you out there who have yet to experience this series just press the button on your controller of choice let the bloodshed begin [Music] [Applause] you
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Matt\'s No More Heroes Retrospective

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