Alan Baxter On June - 28 - 2010

The Nintendo Wii is dominated by games that your typical soccer-mom or young child would play, with accessible motion controllers, colourful graphics, simple gameplay and cute characters being present in the majority of games on the console. However, this changed back in 2008 when Suda 51 released the controversial No More Heroes, an action game which brought new elements to the Wii which were rarely seen before; intense action and gory violence. A sequel for No More Heroes wasn’t initially planned, but the original title sold unexpectedly well and therefore Suda 51 decided to give the fans what they wanted. So does No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle improve on the original game or should the series have been executed like many of the assassins throughout?

Desperate Struggle puts us back in control of the lethal assassin and sex obsessed hero Travis Touchdown. Taking place 3 years after the original game where Travis reached the top of the United Assassins Association rankings to only walk away, Travis returns to the fictional city of Santa Destroy to fight a character called Skelter Helter, who seeks revenge on you for killing his older brother Helter Skelter in the original game. After quickly dismissing your foe in a tutorial based battle, you soon learn that a group of criminals have murdered your best friend Bishop after his head gets thrown through your window and lands at your feet via a paper bag. A distraught Travis vows to get revenge on those who carried out this unthinkable act, and therefore Travis asks the sexy Sylvia who works for the United Assassins Association to set up a fight between the gangs leader.

It so happens that coincidentally the person that murdered your best friend Bishop is ranked number 1 in the Assassins ranking, and therefore you must battle your way back up the rankings to earn the right to fight and exact revenge on the evil Jasper. The story in Desperate Struggle is deeper than the original game and makes you want to rise up the rankings and help Travis Touchdown avenge the death of his friend, and the game will take a respectable 10-15 hours to complete. Although 50 assassins stand before you and the number 1 spot, you actually only participate in 15 boss battles due to multiple assassins featuring in the same battles. However, this number feels just right due to some of the boss battles lasting a surprisingly long time; arguably too long in some cases, with the boss battles towards the end dragging on a tad. You will often have to defeat hundreds of enemies before you even reach the boss itself as you navigate through their heavily guarded locations. The variety of the boss battles and locations help keep the game fresh, with a highlight being a large robot battle near the beginning of Travis’ adventure.

The violent, bloody gameplay, comical voice acting and sexually orientated anime-style actions that gave the original game such a huge fan-base return in Desperate Struggle and have been vamped to the max. Suda 51 have left nothing to the imagination here and the game certainly isn’t for the weak hearted; or to be played whilst your relatives are over visiting! Desperate Struggle incorporates a decent control system which saves the game from becoming a pure hack and slash. Pressing the A button will swing your beamed Katana, with swiping the Wii controller producing a stronger, more deadlier attack. The C button on the Nunchuck controller help focus and concentrate on a single enemy, with the Z button allowing you to execute some awesome wrestling moves that Travis has stored away in his locker.

You will have access to 4 different types of Katanas this time around, with the highlight being dual-wielding beamed Katanas which can produce some insanely cool deaths to your helpless foes. The original No More Heroes only allowed you to cut off your enemies heads; which was awesome of course, whereas you can slice enemies’ bodies in half in Desperate Struggle, and this leads to more variety in the combat system and some “oh my god” moments throughout the game. Unleashing enough destruction will fill up a meter which allows you to increase the speed and power of your attacks, and even transform into a tiger which will easily help you rip through the tons of enemies. Unfortunately the camera doesn’t live up to the brilliant combat system. You will regularly find yourself looking at walls instead of towards your enemies, and this can be particularly frustrating when you’re attempting to take down another assassin; being helpless to their powerful attacks as you try to make your way across the room without being able to see them isn’t much fun at all.

Navigating around Santa Destroy was more of a chore than enjoyment in the original No More Heroes, but this isn’t the case in Desperate Struggle due a map system being implemented which allows you to quickly travel to your desired destination. Highlighted clearly in different colours, you can choose whether you continue with the story and go head-to-head with the next assassin, play 1 of the 8 mini-games on offer or go to various locations around the city such as your crib where you humorously use the toilet to save the game, or visit the gym where you can increase your health by completing the coaches requirements. Suda 51 have cleverly excluded the Overworld from the first game and therefore you no longer have to an entry fee to ranked assassin battles, and this allows you to solely concentrate on the story mode and helping Travis on his quest for revenge (and tons of women) if you so wish.

Although the money acquired from completing the mini-games spread around Santa Destroy is no longer needed to enter fights, it will still come in useful if you wish to purchase and collect all of Travis’ extensive wardrobe items. The customisation options are surprisingly good and allow you to transform Travis’ already unorthodox appearance even further. The mini-games themselves have received a complete makeover from the first game and are presented as classic 8-bit games in Desperate Struggle. A good variety of games will keep you coming back for more, whether you’re repairing Santa Destroy’s sewage line, sucking up bugs Ghostbuster style or racing on a motorbike. The mini-games are highly addictive and can relate to the older audience which the game is aimed at, due to the 8-bit games generally being those that the older audience would have grown up playing. You can easily waste hours playing these mini-games and not giving a single thought to the main storyline, and therefore the 8-bit games were a fantastic addition to Desperate Struggle.

Like the original No More Heroes, Desperate Struggle is presented in a cell-shaded graphical style and I can confidently say that the sequels graphics outshine its predecessors, aswell as stating that Desperate Struggle is easily one of the best looking games currently available on the Nintendo Wii. Tons of blood splatters the screen as you slice and dice bodies in half and perform vicious finishing moves consisting of removing your opponents head. The varied environments of the game all look great aswell; well, when you can actually see them and the camera isn’t playing up. A high tempo soundtrack suits the game perfectly and kicks in at the right times to help pump you up from the forthcoming assassin battles, and the previously mentioned stellar voice acting wraps it all up in one neat and tidy package.

If you’re looking for an action game on the Nintendo Wii which is completely different to the vast majority of titles that the console has to offer, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is the perfect game for you. Full of fantastic amounts of violence, hilarious events and tons of sexual innuendos, Desperate Struggle has managed to improve upon its predecessor in pretty much every way possible and provide a fun gaming experience which shouldn’t be missed. Highly recommended if you don’t take games too seriously.

4.3/5 stars

Categories: Feature, Wii Reviews

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