No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Only available for Wii)
ESRB Rating: M
Release Date: January 26, 2010
Parent Talk: No under-17 gamer should ever go near No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. Its predecessor, No More Heroes, featured intentionally over-the-top violence, innuendo and trashy language, and this sequel only compounds all of that. You’ve been warned with a red alert of Star Trek proportions. I frankly felt rather dirty playing it myself, but it was at least fun to mess with the new jobs and battle system, and witness more of Suda 51’s insanity. But parents, don’t let your young ones play this.
Travis Touchdown has returned to the fictional city of Santa Destroy, only to have another string of utterly bizarre assassin challengers waiting for him. He’s not the big dog anymore either, but more than just pursue the number one rank again, our otaku protagonist is out for some sweet payback. His best friend murdered, affections for UAA agent Sylvia further ferociously teased, and a fat cat that’s begging for some hilarious exercise… What has Mr. Touchdown gotten himself into this time?!
The Great: The blood-showering combat. Whether dual-wielding or not, Travis Touchdown can once again layeth the smackdown on all the minions pitifully trying to protect his primary assassin targets in this quest for revenge. Witnessing all the different ways to wrestle an enemy to the ground, or split him in two is surely something to behold. Plus, Travis has also taken an obvious page out of Mortal Kombat II’s book, as he can now cause further chaos by transforming into a red liquid-thirsty tiger if the Vegas slot machine stops in your favor. Oh yeah…
The Good: + The new jobs. Suda 51 has clearly taken notes on the retro revival happening with Wii, as all the temporary employment opportunities for Travis are played in nostalgic 2D fashion. Whether you’re exterminating unwanted critters or cleaning up outer space, it’s all done in 8-bit style. The workouts to improve Travis’s health and attack damage are especially interesting and challenging.
+ Improved tech. Despite a frame rate that is far from perfect during intense fights and gestures that aren’t always recognized, No More Heroes 2 towers over its older brother in terms of performance. Omitting the open world aspect has done wonders for the franchise, and streamlined the overall navigation. Desperate Struggle just oozes with more visual candy.
+ You can still ‘drop’ a nice save. Need I say more?
The Bad: – The camera. I’ve never cared for perspectives that you can’t directly control, and NMH2 doesn’t change my attitude. The majority of the time, it either works or it doesn’t, and it’s quite annoying when the latter is the case.
– The jobs are static. In other words, there are four set-in-stone stages to potentially complete for each job that Travis can undertake. They never change, and that’s disappointing. I think the developers could’ve at least randomized them to keep the experiences fresh. 2D nostalgia is only so sustainable I’m afraid.
– One of the other playable characters. I won’t spoil who this mystery person is, but I didn’t enjoy controlling her one bit, let alone fight. I can’t remember the last time I felt so frustrated trying to make a character jump for crying out loud!
The Ugly: I never felt a reason to care about Travis’s opponents. The boss assassins are certainly unique and cool to fight, but horribly lack personality and relevancy to Touchdown’s main objective. They come off as nothing more than a means to an end, and keeping the No More Heroes canon consistent. I expected expansion on the conflict in Travis’s family, or at least some connection to the one responsible for his friend’s death. Nope, sorry Charlie.
The Lowdown: It was extremely tough for me to be fair with the first No More Heroes because of its odd mix of good and bad, and sadly that same problem arises for the sequel. I definitely enjoyed Desperate Struggle more, but I don’t think it quite delivered like it could have. It’s wonderful that Suda was willing to take another crack at a market that hasn’t bought much outside of boxes with Nintendo franchises, Resident Evil or Guitar Hero stamped on them, but perhaps it’s time for him to move on to greener pastures. I’m not suggesting that he stop working on the Big N’s platforms, but he could certainly achieve better elsewhere. I don’t think NMH2 is worth the full asking price, but it’s fun and full of style like last time. It’s your choice.
BUY IT 4 CHEAP