When I said I was going to review No More Heroes 2, I meant it. When I discussed the previous game, I did mention that I may or may not review it. I said that because, wow, I have to pay double the price of the original game for NMH2. But, in the end, I did it anyway. Because I’m a sad person. But, regardless, here it is. This is a game no one expected would be made. No More Heroes seemed like such a niche game that was fun, but nothing to warrant a sequel. But, low and behold, here it is: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
Now, you all know that I love the first No More Heroes game. It managed to jump all the way up to my top ten favorite games ever in just the span of a month of playing it. So, now that I got to enjoy the classic Wii game, how does the sequel fair? Well let’s find out. The story of this game is a little different than before. Three years after the previous game, Santa Destroy has become a major tourist attraction with almost every business being run by the company, Pizza Bat. Travis left Santa Destroy, having taken his rank as the number one assassin and left, earning him fame and glory unlike ever before. Now, already, that seems a little strange. In the first game, Travis was a nerd who everyone mocked and made fun of. Now, he’s a celebrity and every girl wants his Beam Katana. But, whatever. Anyway, after Travis kills Skelter Helter and becomes the 51st assassin, his best friend, Bishop, the guy who works at Beef Head Video from the first game, is killed by the Rank 1 assassin, Jasper Batt Jr. Now on a road to vengeance, Travis cuts down every enemy in his path in order to get revenge. The story is a lot more serious… Sometimes. Instead of just being about some loser trying to get laid, it’s a tale of how revenge is never satisfying. And I have to say, I love revenge stories like that. But how does the gameplay hold up?
Well, if you loved the gameplay of No More Heroes, than you’re going to love it here too. Not much I can say, other than that the camera is a little better. The camera was kind of close to Travis in the previous game, but now, it is fixed immensely. Another thing that is fixed are the Darkside Modes. Blueberry Cheese Brownie is much better in Desperate Struggle. In the first game, Travis blocked most of your view, and it was hard to aim the crosshair. In Desperate Struggle, you just aim and swing, and the energy balls do the rest. Strawberry on the Shortcake allows all enemies to freeze as Travis slices them to pieces. And Cranberry Chocolate Sundae turns Travis into a goddamn tiger, with all of the enemies cowering in fear as they try to run. The tiger form gives Travis a faster speed, invincibility, and kills enemies in one hit. When up against a group of enemies, this makes it a lot more fun. One Dark Side Mode that was added into the game, Gooseberry Sugar Donut, allows Travis to wipe out all of the enemies in the area in one attack. It’s basically an area clearing move like in classic beat ‘em ups. And unlike the first game, I didn’t run into the issue of the Modes coming before all of the enemies were dead, so it didn’t feel as unsatisfying as the previous game. Another great addition are the Beam Katanas. While the original game has some good Beam Katanas, we all really just wanted the Tsubaki MK III. In this game, you have more variety with your Beam Katanas and are more willing to try them all out. There’s the classic Blood Berry, which, let’s be honest, we’ll be forgotten once you get better ones. D.O.S, the best sword in the original game which looks like an actual Katana. Peony, a sword that is super heavy, but is very strong and gets larger the more hits Travis gets in. And then there’s my favorite, Rose Nasty, duel Beam Katanas which, aren’t just on the cover of Desperate Struggle, but is also a really good weapon to combo with. Man, they really went all out for the gameplay. I’m sure the overworld is even better than before…
In the previous game, the overworld was either hit or miss with some people. Some found it a little fun to go around and do odd jobs, getting a break from the killing, while others saw it as time wasting and boring. Sure, having to take a job, drive to the job, and drive back to retake the job if you fail could be annoying, but I never had too much issues with it. The overworld of Desperate Struggle, however… Oh my god. It’s just an undetailed and blank map. Gone is the overworld to explore, gone are the chances to find any concept art, and gone is the Schpeltiger. Well, it’s there two times in the game, one being a very boring drive done a road and the other being used for a really bad beginning to an awesome boss fight. You can still go to some of the places, however. Naomi’s shop is still around, but only offers two Beam Katanas, and no upgrades. It almost makes it seem kind of pointless if you grind for money at the beginning of the game. Area 51, while still being there, just titled Airport 51 now, has a bit more unique and design coordinated clothing. You can make Travis look like a cool guy, a huge nerd, or some Jet Set Radio knock-off. I like this. The T-shirts are kinda lame, though. That’s just me opinion. And Ryan’s Gym… Oh lord, I had some trouble with this on the first go. You can’t mess up once. If you do, you just wasted your cash and you have to pay to train again. Granted, it does become merciful and you can take a few more hits before being considered a failure, but you won’t know until the end, and quitting is an automatic failure. And the jobs you do around town are still there, only now, they are all in an 8-Bit style of gaming. There’s fixing pipes, making steaks, and collecting garbage in space. I always did the old trick of getting to level four of the garbage clean-up, picked up all the trash except one, killed myself, and then picked it up for an extra hundred grand. It’s cheating, but… I don’t care. Now, these odd jobs, while some are fun… are pretty pointless. Well, not pointless, but you can ignore them if you want. Rank fights don’t cost money anymore, so you can just from boss to boss, kicking ass and taking names. It gets to a point where you can breeze through New Game Plus in a day with all of the upgrades and powerful weapons you have. But, there are some things you can do. If you go back into your apartment at one point in the game, you can earn some assassination jobs and kill the very guys who took out Bishop. Oh, and speaking of your Apartment, they actually did better on this one. You can now walk around Travis’ apartment instead of move around it. Jeane is intractable and can teach you a new move if you help her exercise, you can read Weekly Backdrops and learn new wrestling moves, and you can watch the intro to Bizarre Jelly 5 on Travis’ TV… Why you would, I don’t know.
Once again, if anything in No More Heroes stands out, it’s the bosses. And boy, do they stand out in this game. Now, No More Heroes 1, while crazy, was grounded in some reality. Some. Not a ton, but some. Now, in Desperate Struggle, just straight up fuck reality. The bosses in this game consist of football players in giant robots, evil ghost children, moe anime girls, and The Fury from Metal Gear Solid 3. And in this game, you get to play as, not just Travis, but also Shinobu and Henry from the first game. Henry is as fun to play through as you would expect. Fast combos, moving around real quick, and that wonderful Irishness. Henry is so good. But you only get him for one boss fight. Shinobu, however, you get for two levels and two bosses. And it is Awful! She can’t jump well at all. In most games, you have control of your character in the air. With Shinobu, you have no control. Worse, she always stops her combos to taunt her enemies, which has gotten me hit numerous times when I was doing super well. This is a fucking mess! Anyway, sadly, with the enhanced gameplay, the levels in this game can range from pretty long, to two minutes, to just straight up boss fight with no level before it. It honestly makes the game seem rushed in a sense. Oh, and all of the enemies are the same. In No More Heroes, you had a good variety of enemies, design wise. There were security guards, baseball players, soldiers, … gimps… Anyway, in No More Heroes 2, you are only fighting hitmen from the Pizza Bat Company. No designs are changed, and they all look the same. Not to say that fighting them isn’t fun, but you can only hear, “Getting your jollies” and “Chickenshit” so many times. Now, back to the bosses, I feel that they were much improved from the previous game… some of the time. The bosses in the original ranged from that one amazing boss to a majority of pretty fun ones to very dull ones. In this game, they can really make a shitty boss. In fact, there’s a lot of bosses in this game I don’t like. But when there’s a good boss in this game, my god, are they amazing. There’s no okay bosses in this game… Well, maybe Cloe Walsh, but that’s just the one. They are much more fun and by the second half of the game, have some of the best characters for people you only meet for a few seconds. I just love it so much.If you want to hear what are the best and worst bosses, go read my Top 5 Best and Worst No More Heroes 2 Bosses (Shameless self promotion). But then there is the one boss.
Okay, so before we talk about the final boss, we must discuss the second-to-final boss, Alice Twilight (Or Moonlight, since they messed up the translation here in the west). She adds tons of character in just the short time she is here, discussing how she knows she is going to die and prepares herself for her own death and prepares Travis for what he is going to expect, and then begins probably the best fight in the entire series. Yes, even more than Henry. After Travis cuts her down, he goes over the edge. He tells Sylvia that assassins are not for the UAA to use and that he wants to be a hero by his own standards, promising to put an end to the UAA. After this revelation of Travis’ character, he and Sylvia fuck… Just like that. Hey, at least it’s funny. After that, we get one of the best scores in the game, where Travis runs up the Pizza Bat headquarters to fight Jasper Batt Jr., while the classic No More Heroes theme plays. I didn’t talk about the music, but man, does it get you hyped up in this game. Easily better than the first game. So, after Travis gets to Jasper Batt Jr, this dork with pink glasses and a lime green suit with a pizza tattoo on his head, the fight begins. And my god, this is one of the worst bosses I’ve ever fought. He starts out easy, but then goes into his second form, where he knocks you around and can kill you instantly if he knocks you out a window, and then his final phase just has the camera shit the bed by getting sucked inside of his torso. After Travis kills him in comedic fashion, he falls to the ground below. And you may notice that the game is play the theme that plays when Travis advances in rank. Yeah, that little 8-bit tune is playing, only now slower as he falls. However, he is saved by Sylvia, who then tosses him out at his motel and drives off. And then, we go back to the nurse at the Heaven Smiles House. First, yes, that is a Killer7 reference, and two, this woman is the one telling the story of No More Heroes. We find out that the woman is Sylvia and that the listener is Travis, and that they plan to head back to Santa Destroy, with the game ending with Sylvia calling Travis her No More Hero… I wish a girl would call me her No More Hero… I need a drink.
So, for those who played the game, they were torn on weather this was an improvement to the original game or a disappointing sequel. Regardless, the game managed to gain a fair share of love as the first game and even got a collectors edition called the Hopper’s Edition… In Japan only. The Hopper’s Edition includes a DVD of what happened before the game started, an art book for the game, the game’s soundtrack, and an erotic manga, which there isn’t even any nudity in. This barely qualifies as a hentai!
Gotta be honest with everyone, I was pretty disappointed in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. Gone is the overworld, amazing gameplay that only goes into a few short levels or none at all, poor use of Shinobu and Henry, you jump from rank 49 to 25 in one boss fight, than ahead twelve more ranks again, than Henry kills three off screen, making the 51 assassins marketing bullshit, and a terrible final boss. But that’s not to say the game is bad. I’d still say that it is a great game that you should play. But if you have never played a No More Heroes game, start with the first one, then come to this one. Believe me, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. Aside from those few issues, however, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, with amazing gameplay, good writing, fun bosses, and one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a video game, I think that it gets the title of Excavation Worthy!