Review: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

Once in a blue moon, a game gets released that seems so original but has an old-school feel. Though sometimes, people make the mistake of saying that it’s original BECAUSE it’s old school and, let’s face it, that just doesnt make sense! No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is, strangely, both.No More Heroes is, at its heart, a third-person hack-and-cartoon-slash gore-fest full of genius, foul-mouthed dialogue and Japanese fanboy service. But it does have quite a large dose of retro 2D arcade-style gameplay side-quests.

You play one of the funniest game characters to date, Travis Touchdown who is an assassin with a laser katana (yes, you read that right!) and his mission, essentially, is to kill his way to the top of the rankings of his profession with a nice revenge story thrown in for good measure.

The game uses an easy-to-navigate city menu system which acts as your hub to all the different game modes. You can follow the main story missions, go to the gym that’s run by a rather…*ahem*… austintacious man in a skin-tight bright pink leotard to bulk up your health and strength, or engage in one of the many crazy old-school style ‘jobs’ to make money to purchase new threads from the clothes shop or buy more badassed lightsaber katanas from your excessively busty friend Naomi.

The story missions start and end with the obligatory cutscene and I doubt I have ever laughed so hard at a game (in a good way). The dialogue-based humour can only be described as utterly impurile and downright hilarious and fits the cast perfectly. Those that don’t like a lot of swearing, fear not, there is a skip button but really, the game’s humour is what will keep you going. The hack-and-slash gameplay of the main story missions is quite repetitive, with the exception being the different weapons and moves you unlock (and it does feel like it was made to be a button masher). Smashing the controller with gusto seems to favour the player more than keen timing and elegance, and for times when some precision is actually required, the game slows down and draws huge pictures of what it wants you to do to turn your current enemy into bleeding sushi. Works for me!

Every level ends in a boss fight and this is where you can feel the love put into the game. Each boss is a rich and totally insane character with bizarre attacks and funny one-liners that feel like they’ve been plucked from the fevered mind of an institutionalised anime writer. After more frantic slashy-slashy, the story continues. There are a few times when you feel you have been cheaped out, because Travis’ mission is to get to number one (starting from rank 51), but there are times when he’ll jump a bunch of numbers along the way. I was hoping to take on all 50 and if he doesnt need to actually work his way up the ladder, why not just go for number 1 in the first place dammit?! Myeh, anyway…

The difficulty slowly picks up and, when you notice it’s taking you 20 minutes to kill a normal grunt, it’s time to get money together to buy upgrades. As the game likes to say, “It’s whore time!” The side jobs (and most of the menus for that matter) are all done in the old-school early 90s arcade vector graphics with 8-bit sound: think Bubble Bobble, Bomb Jack and Wonderboy, and you’re getting the idea. This got my nerd-on straight away as they do mirror a lot of arcade games I grew up with. Everything from sucking bugs up with a vacuum cleaner (reminiscent of Dig-Dug), using pipes to direct the flow of sewerage (as in Pipedreams) to driving a pizza to its destination (Outrun style) and even collecting coconuts (in a very Wonderboy fashion).

After a few hours of gaming goodness, No More Heroes 2 throws a big no-no at you. They bring in a different player character with new controls. This can kill any love you have for the game in an instant as they also bring in a jumping ability. Needless to say, the new ability also brings levels based around jumping from platforms, boxes and rooftops. This probably wouldn’t be so bad if the jump-mechanics didnt feel like they were swiped from an N64 version of Castlevania (for those that don’t know, those games sucked hard). Thankfully, this section is mercifully short and Travis does not carry on the verticle talent.

No More Heroes 2 is a varied game with many different playing types on offer but at its core stands a sadistic, bloodbathed monster with Jay and Silent Bob on dialogue duties. It’s original. It’s old school. It’s a fucking classic!

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stubby28182

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  • Braceibe

    Your review pretty much sums up my view of the game