NO MORE HEROES 2: DESPERATE STRUGGLE Review

Truth in advertising: A Desperate Struggle

Let’s face it: the Wii has the reputation for being the home for triple-A first party titles as well as innumerable casual games and mini-game collections. But there are Wii games that appeal to the hardcore audience; the two that immediately come to mind are the criminally overlooked Madworld and the original No More Heroes.

Protagonist Travis Touchdown starts off as pretty much the same slacker he was from the first game. Cocky and shallow, his fall from the number one spot is not explained in detail because as uber-hottie assassin’s rep Sylvia Christel puts it: “players would get bored and just skip through it.” Once again Travis needs to climb his way back up the assassin’s ladder, but this time IT’S PERSONAL. After his best (and only) friend is murdered, Travis vows to kill the man responsible, who just so happens to be the current #1 ranked assassin. He also just wants to get into Sylvia’s pants.

The common complaints of original were addressed. The non-interactive open world was nixed. You no longer have to ride from job to job or battle to battle in a dull city that only exists as decoration.  This time you simply select the job or battle and boom! You’re there! It’s a lot more streamlined and lot less tedious. Speaking of tedious, the other big complaint was the lame side job mini-games from the original. The side jobs are still in this sequel, but they are all (except for one) presented in a retro 8-bit style, complete with primitive sound effects and chintzy music. And they are a lot more fun. They cover a wide range of genres- like mazes, puzzle, racing, and even cooking. Even stamina and strength training with Travis’ flamingly gay personal trainer is reminiscent of the really early days of the NES, except for the gay part though. There’s also no longer a need to pay an exorbitant entrance fee for ranking battles.

If that’s not enough there are a ton of other things to do besides playing the actual game. There’s an awesome 2D shooter (set in a Sailor Moon-like universe) in Travis’ motel room, a mini-game where you put Travis’ cat on a diet, and a store to shop for clothes. Finding anime and pro wrestling collectibles is yet another time waster. I spent only a minimal amount of time on these but it’s nice that they’re available.

The best parts of the game, the bloody fights and boss battles, remain for the most part the same. This time though, you can switch between different beam katanas in the middle of battle. They each represent different sword fighting styles, which is of course is nice for variety.  The “Rose Nasty” beam katanas, which you dual wield , are the weapons you’ll pretty much stick with once you get them, though.  At its core it’s still the same fast, fluid action with its intricate sword combos, wrestling moves, and brutal finishes. Comical fountains of blood and cash gush from eviscerated and decapitated foes. When Travis’ Ecstasy Gauge fills up he either becomes a whirling food processor of death or transforms into a tiger at which point his enemies cower before him and are killed with one bite. Slaughtering minions is mindless fun. Boss battles are even better and at times surprising, like a giant robot battle that occurs early on. Since when did a guy who lives in a motel room have the money to buy that? Needless to say each boss is unique, original, and challenging.

Towards the middle of the game the perspective briefly switches to that of other characters. The first is an assassin whose life Travis spared from the first game, a young girl named Shinobu. All grown up as well as fast and lethal with her traditional katana, she clearly deserves a game of her own. Her stages include some platforming; unfortunately an annoying camera causes some unneeded aggravation to an otherwise stellar debut. Her save points are icing on the cake. Whereas Travis saves as always by sitting on the crapper, Shinobu’s save points are hot, steamy showers. In addition to how the camera leers at the scantily clad Sylvia Christel, the game unapologetically aims its sights on the 18-34 male demographic. The other briefly playable character is Travis’ twin and “final” Final boss from the first game- Henry. He only has one stage but adds an interesting twist to the story. As the story unfolds, we see that even Travis Touchdown has more scruples than he lets on.

No More Heroes 2 is a definite improvement over the more plodding and tedious elements of the original. It continues to be a solid and fun action game that parodies and pays homage to Japanese pop culture and gaming’s 8-bit era. It’s not without its minor flaws, but it’s one of those rare third party M-rated gems for the Wii that’s definitely worth playing. No More Heroes 2 continues to be the best lightsaber action game without the actual Lucasfilm license.

Another senseless brawl erupts at the local Costco.

Pros:

  • Improved side jobs mostly presented as 8-bit games
  • Streamlined travel throughout Santa Destroy
  • Original and awesome boss fights

Cons:

  • Annoying camera during platform segments
  • Sparse looking environments

Final Verdict: Praise It

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