We recently reviewed the original No More Heroes title a little while back as we missed hacking and slashing our way through enemies with the style and crass that only Travis Touchdown can deliver. Today we do much of the same in our return to the journey of Travis in Suda’51’s sequel title – No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle and take a look at as to how even with some cut content that the second installment of the franchise is the biggest hit.
The story is as wacky and zany as ever as after Travis Touchdown went on to become the greatest assassin of all time he is called back to arms when a dear friend is killed, making his second adventure a much more personal tale. Travis must climb the ranks and become the greatest assassin once more and uncover the truth about who murdered is closest (and potentially only) friend. The structure of the story really doesn’t matter as it isn’t trying to be a gripping tale of revenge and is nothing more than simple motivation to try to complete the game without having it feel repetitive from the first installment.
There are many new features and a much deeper plot-line that come into play in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, which is apparent from the start, but don’t be fooled into thinking that anything truly serious will happen or well-thought out plot twists will keep popping-up. This is a Suda’51 game after all, and the focus is mainly on the experience rather than the story, but it is nice to see some depth to Travis and the surrounding cast the second time around.
Speaking of the surrounding cast, you won’t just be following the adventure of Travis Touchdown in this sequel as Shinobu returns to help our loner hero on his quest for vengeance. This helps break up some of the repetitive sequences that were in the first game as well as help the growth of the overall story and characters, which once again, isn’t as heroic or epic as it is put out to be, but a nice added touch no less. The other assassins are also chock full of character and are bigger & more bombastic than before. The No More Heroes series never held back on personality and the second game surely makes sure to keep it that way and truly is the charm of the entire franchise.
The game’s main new feature is with its weapon catalog that varies from the simple beam-katana to oversized swords and even dual-wielding blades. These new killer-tools all offer some much-needed variety and different play styles to go along with the ways you want to play. Although the end all-be all weapons are the dual-katanas, each new addition provides with their pros and faults and can vastly change your approach before going into combat.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle also introduces platforming sequences which are a pretty lackluster experience. It was sure nice to see a different gameplay style make its way into the game, but we are glad that these moments were few and far between from the actual core gameplay. A horrid camera and unnatural control scheme made these moments one of the few low-points for the game, but we can surely live with the fact that they tried something new.
While there are many new mini-games to play in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, they do lack the same punch that the first installment had to offer, and one of the main reasons of this is the fact that the second title doesn’t have a hub world to roam around in. With what was a vastly emptied open area to explore, so too did the in-game side quests, but are now replaced with 8-Bit mini-games which are fun for a few times, but usually, get tiring after the first tries.
Not much has changed visually between the franchises’ first installment, but Desperate Struggle was able to push out more enemies and the variety between them onto the screen. Sure this caused some framerate bumps when hacking through every human body that appeared but still provided a visual spectacle with its massive bloodshed and torn limbs. It may seem like a slight difference, but having different enemies to cut-up makes a drastic difference and the game benefits this greatly in comparison to the first title.
The game’s sounds and tunes remain untouched from the previous title and should remain as the first No More Heroes game offered a terrific techno/Hip-Hop vibe which carries over nicely to the second one. There is a lack of variety between missions, which was a disappointing point, even in the first game, but the soundtrack of the game is catchy enough that going back and listening to it after many years didn’t prove bothersome in the slightest.
The overall visuals of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has stood rather well, especially for a Wii game and this could be thanks to its cel-shaded art style, however, the rambunctious title still suffers from the fact that the Wii’s visuals aren’t ageing all that well. It may not have been noticeable when playing back in 2010, but there are quite a few hiccups happening in the background such as uncompleted textures or odd character animations, still, this is nothing to deter anyone from enjoying the title as it is one of the better-looking games that the Wii had to offer.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle isn’t one of those games where you will be plugged in-front of your TV for hours on end with many side-quests or an epic adventure of gargantuan proportion that we expect from today’s gaming library, but what it does provide is an easy to pick up hack and slash that fills the need of senseless fun and crude humor. This ultra-violent nature makes it one of the few over the top games that found a home on the Wii and is worth picking up if you still have your motion controlled based console lying around as the game is a witty and bold experience that directly caters to those looking to enjoy a bit of over the top violence.
Even to this day, there are far fewer titles like Suda’51’s No More Heroes’ games and it is great to see the series coming back in its own way for the Nintendo Switch. It has been far too long since Travis Touchdown made an appearance and we can only hope that this newest installment can pull the same quirky and violent nature than the previous two installments. The franchise has been dormant for the last few years, but still hasn’t stopped fans wanting more from what can now be considered a cult classic franchise that was hidden away with the likes of Mario, Zelda and Metroid of its time on a console that didn’t cater to such an audience.
Bigger, better, bolder and bloodier was the theme in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle and the team behind the hack and slash franchise perfected to a tee for the second installment. Better motion controls, bigger boss fights, bolder ideas and of course, a much more violent experience all accounted to making Travis Touchdown’s return a terrific one. There are a few gameplay and visual flaws, but it pales in comparison as to the great fun you’ll have in cutting down foes while feeling like a badass doing so, and that is exactly what No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle provides.