For those out there that think the Wii is nothing but a system for the casual gamer and their grandma; where you'll spend the majority of your times bowling, cooking, and doing yoga poses; and only Nintendo alums such as Mario, Link and Samus can survive because they are timeless icons, I have news for you. A character like Travis Touchdown is just what this system needed. He's vulgar, perverted, and carries a lightsaber (It's called a beam katana in the game but…..come on.). No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is not afraid to get dirty. There are times where it has to wash it hands because of how much blood you spill. Grasshopper Manufacture has created a game that not only caters to the hardcore action gamers that want more violence for all their Wii titles, but also pays homage to NES fans in the process.
It has been three years since Travis Touchdown fought his way to the top of the United Assassins Association (UAA) ranking. After that, he just walked away from it all. Now he is back, but not by choice. An event occurs early on in the story that drives Travis to reclaim his number 1 spot. The story of Desperate Struggle doesn't seem to take itself seriously, and for many anime fans out there, they'll be right at home with the plot. It is very over-the-top and many of the characters have philosophies on killing others and how real warriors let their attacks speak to the deepest corners of the souls to connect with other worthy opponents. You know….standard operating procedure for any action-packed anime. The game starts Travis off as the ranked 51st assassin, but it will quickly fast-track you through half of the ranks with a fight that any mecha-fan out there will get a kick out of.
First and foremost, the controls are extremely easy to wrap your head around. This is mainly a button masher at heart and mashing the A button will unleash devastating beam katana combos. If you use the nunchuk and Wii Remote control set up, tilting the remote up or down will make high strikes or low strikes. The B-Button makes Travis perform punches and kicks. Many of the motion controls will come into play when using finishing moves. A motion prompt will appear for how to swing the remote when Travis uses a beam katana finishing move, while a combination of both controllers will show up when he wants to perform a wrestling move. These control swings are usually recognize by the first swing, but I did find that sometimes it took some timing to makes this happen. The main control issues come into question when Travis has to undertake training exercises to increase his attack strength by punching and kicking dumbbells. Button inputs downright don't respond when you press the button and it is extremely frustrating. I really almost found myself wanting to stop doing them because of this problem. These occurrences had me screaming obscenities at the screen. It doesn't make the game unplayable, but you will sometimes question whether you want to undertake this training in the future. It also does not help that this particular training has no indication on what it takes to pass or fail. There were times where I hit the majority of the dumbbells, and yet still failed. If there was some counter that told me how many I had to hit during each exercise, it would have made it somewhat better. That way, I have some outlined goal to strive for.
The entire game is streamlined. There is no hub world to fool around in. Once you leave a place, an overhead map is show and you pick from a menu of locations to go. Travis can go buy clothes, new weapons, and even go back to his apartment for to unwind with his favourite anime and video game series. The hub menu really matches the fast-paced feel of the game. There's no way of getting lost around the city of Santa Destroy.
And there is plenty of fast-paced action. Many of the ranking battles follow the same formula. You are placed in an area swarming with guards and in order to progress, you must kill each and every one of them. These hack-and-slash moments are the core of the game. These are enjoyable, full of blood and gore that hardcore gamers crave and are simplistic in their delivery. There are no complex combo chains to learn here. The big green A button back in the Gamecube days was referred to as the "Win Button" and here it is no different. Once you deplete a henchman's health, you are treated to a gory-filled beam katana finisher. This style of gameplay is a classic and for a game like this, doesn't require much tweaking or improving. There are some times where you have to try and sneak around a prison, but I decided to get caught early on and begin cutting everyone in half. This game really makes a player want to keep on fighting. There are some gripes with it such as cheap boss battles where they can drag on if you aren't careful and even one moment where instant death is only a character misplacement away, but overall the action is adrenaline-filled and downright just an enjoyment to participate in. The story also has it moments where you can play as Travis' student, Shinobu and his brother Henry, but thankfully this is only a small snippet of the game and the developers realized that you are here for Travis' story. Aside from the main ranking battles, there are Revenge Missions for Travis to undertake. These are broken up with two objectives. One mission type just has you kill everyone while the other one has you kill a certain person in the level. These missions are just an excuse to tack on more bloody sequences and they don't really feel like a real revenge plot. These people did a horrible thing to Travis and it would have at least been good to hear Travis' input on these events. But still, you get to fight and kill more opponents, so it stretches the gameplay a little bit.
If the player wants to take a break from all the fighting, there are a number of side jobs Travis can take and these are by far the icing on the cake that is the game. These jobs are a throwback to the old NES days of 8-bit goodness. Even before the job loads, you can hear a person blowing into a cartridge and loading it into a game system. These jobs range from rotating pipes for running water, delivering pizzas on motorbikes as you weave through traffic and even timing events for cooking steaks. These jobs have the feeling of being back in the early 90s playing your NES console. (For those that don't know what I'm talking about, this is the system where Samus and Link got their start) They also have the range of old NES games. There are some games you will really enjoy and there are just ones that you will just want to stay away from. But the choices are there and they are never pressed upon you to play them. It's a great escape if you want to take a break from all the action.
The art style for this game is quite a unique one and that is largely thanks to the direction of Goichi Suda (known as Suda51) and his sleeper hit Killer 7. The style looks quite amazing and feels like you are playing a motion comic at times. For a Wii game, this game is well-put together graphically.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has the ability to become a name that is synonymous with the name Nintendo. The game is action-packed, looks good, and can cater to the hardcore players out there. If you can get past a few frustrating bosses at times, players will really enjoy the experience. With Suda51's enthusiasm to continue working with Nintendo, their fans have something to look forward to.