Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

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            Grasshopper Manufacture’s No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle finally makes it’s European debut this week, courtesy of Rising Star Games. Exclusive to Wii, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle shows a striking contrast to the average title received on Nintendo’s popular system, not just in it’s visual design and adult themes, but simply in that of it’s structure. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is an Action game the likes of which is rarely seen on Wii, and for that a great deal on anticipation has been built for this sequel.

            But such expectation doesn’t arrive without merit, and as the sequel to 2008’s widely No More Heroes, a precedent has been set. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle rearranges the formula of thatElectronic Theatre Image first title considerably, with the developers obviously having learned listens about not only what they can achieve with the comparatively limited Wii hardware, but also what the audience is wiling to accept. Though the fictional Santa Destroy remains a distinct and characteristic element in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, the city is no longer free-roaming, with new destinations chosen from a map and players transported there immediately. Santa Destroy was a fantastic design in No More Heroes, drastically let down by offering no reason to explore; in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, the city averts these issues while remaining a distinguished piece of the puzzle.

            From that map, the player can choose to continue with progressing through the United Assassin Association (UAA) ranking, or indulge in a number of other gameplay options. Continuing with the Electronic Theatre Imageultimate goal of the game takes the player through a regular series of gameplay scenarios: Stage Fight, Ranker Fight and consequence. The Stage Fights are 3D scrolling fighting section, in which the player is occasionally challenged with a small unobtrusive puzzle or two. The Ranker Fights are one-on-one bouts against the next ranked assassin, which features many interesting personalities despite there obviously being a handful of chosen stars. The consequences of your battle are revealed after your new rank has been confirmed, delivered in cut-scenes before returning you to your apartment to begin on the next objective.

            The combat is perhaps the most fluid system Action games have seen in the past decade, with all manner of combinations available through just the A and B Buttons and alternating the angle at which you tilt the Wii Remote. Extensive combos can be drawn from the very first Electronic Theatre Imagefight, and complimented by dashing attacks, wrestling moves and finishing blows, it’ll take players many hours of investment to truly plumb the full depths of the system. A new and rather pleasing addition to Travis’ arsenal is the Ecstasy Gauge, a meter which fills with each successful blow (and reduces slightly with each enemy attack that lands) and eventually grants the ability to take down enemies with a single hit. Keep pushing, and Travis will turn into a tiger, leap around the environments and straight through enemies with ease.

            Numerous distractions litter Santa Destroy, from watching his favourite Bizarre Jerry 5 TV programme to playing his Bizarre Jerry 5 bullet-hell videogame, keeping the player occupied between stages of advancement in the plot. Some of the 2D mini-game activities actually play a large part in the player’s progress, offering financial reward for successful completion in the same way the original No Electronic Theatre ImageMore Heroes featured mini-game jobs, but here they feature much more personality, and are often an enjoyable experience in their own right rather than simply a necessary part of the whole. This first two available, Bug Out, the bug-zapping game comparable to Ghostbusters on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Pipe Dreams inspired Lay the Pipe, quickly establish the 1980’s inspiration as both obvious and endearing, and further 2D distractions only mirror that obsession.

            All of this comes together to create an unconventional, madcap world – but one that is wholly compelling. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle’s striking visual style is both elegant and inventive, and is easily one of the best designs on Wii. Eccentric characters litter the demented city, with both depth and unique, interesting personality backing-up their claims of want and need. A thumping light rock soundtrack compliments the action; the influences of modern art luminaries such as The Clash and Joy Division are clear in both visual and aural design.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle’s narrative structure is certainly one of the strongest on Wii, but of course comes with its own hitch. Those not readily involved in anime, Japanese culture or the works of Quentin Tarantino many find it hard to care about the plight of Travis Touchdown, and even harder to immerse themselves in a world so carefully constructed to alienate them. It doesn’t take long for playersElectronic Theatre Image to realise that what they are experiencing differs from the norm, and while those open in invention in videogames will be compelled to reach its conclusion, there are some which will find themselves lost and confused within minutes and without incentive to push on.

A unique and easily recommendable game for anyone with a passion for videogaming as either a hobby, industry or art form, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a self-expressionist work created by fans of videogames, for fans of videogames. Though much of the game is built to provide more questions than answers, players deeply involved in the medium will often find themselves pushing through another assassination simply to see which harebrained plot twist will evolve from their investment. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle distances itself from the pack with broad strokes of self-awareness, originality and risqué style, and as such presents an iconic gem in an otherwise increasingly bland Wii software catalogue.

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And don’t forget, you can win your very own copy of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, courtesy of Rising Star Games, right here.

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