November 6, 2010

Grow Up and Blow Away

No More Heroes 2
As the year of gaming that is 2010 winds down, it’s inevitably time to add up the titles that shaped that time while questioning whether we moved forward, backward, or just spun our tires in the mud to see if we could wear down some tread.

For your reconsideration, the desperate struggle of Travis Touchdown in No More Heroes 2 begs not to be forgotten, despite its early release this year it is a title that lingers like the words spewing from the strip-club monologues that hang on the air like sweet cigarette smoke and still haunt me so many months later.

I recall some critical appraisals, which morphed from pre-release school girl excitement to post-release disappointment over an allegedly stripped down and simplified tale of revenge, which really took the jelly out of my donut at the time. Suda51’s original El Topo flavored inspirations searched for growth and development in returning to the streets of Santa Destroy. And if I could drag Sergio Leone into the mix, I’d suggest that the game shined with the challenging proposition of what happens when the man with no name returns to town – well known now to the inhabitants for previous actions and attitudes, an equal share of burden and pleasure found in the desperate struggle to realize everything arising from how that return challenges the narrative tradition it builds upon.

Travis Touchdown still returns with the hope of another poke and a smoke with Sylvia, but the climb up the ranks saw humor drip away as the game progressed, the absurdest and surrealist giving way to a new sensibility – dare I say the idea that Travis was becoming a man, burdened with the past and still left with more life ahead of him, full of doubts and sorrows and still sought desires that continue shaping him. From nostalgic economic diversions to the sorrowful encounters leading up to its loose fitting and fate unknown conclusions, and a final confrontation that defies offering the satisfaction a typical revenge story would, No More Heroes 2 reminded me that we’re all getting a little older this year, which was overdue for being said, or played out as it were.

Whether that notion caused some to revile is anyone’s guess, but as to whether the game is one of the more significant conversation pieces 2010 has to offer, there’s no question in my mind that it is.

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