Extra Credit: No More Heroes 2 : Desperate Struggle

Before I dive into the singularity that is the world of Suda 51, I should probably mention that this is a possible series of articles revolving around praising the unnoticed. To some that may have seem obvious, but if this piece of writing even lightly reflects No More Heroes 2, it may appear to be slightly arbitrary. To put it simply, Desperate Struggle is a game that’ll piss through your letterbox then one day later, send you an apology attached to your own personalized zebra crossing. It doesn’t really make much sense, and I don’t just mean its bizarre concept. The sequel itself is somewhat illogical; it doesn’t actually justify continuing on from its predecessor as we’re just simply told that the assassin’s trade has become “trendy” now. I suppose the provoke of vengeance via the murdering of an apparent friend is a fairly valid motive for once again butchering every other killer till you’re the only one left with functioning limbs, but it still feels like more of an excuse than genuine reasoning.

In all honesty though, you don’t buy a game like No More Heroes for narrative coherence. You’d be better off folding up your money now as some kind of puppet to tell a good story rather than trawling through Desperate Struggle’s campaign, but you’d be missing out on one the best, most insanely loveable Wii exclusive titles available this year, oh, and may have to be wheeled to an insane asylum. Admittedly, that’s a strange choice of words as if we’re going to be pointing fingers at the crazies, Suda 51 would be a unanimous vote, but the chances are, we wouldn’t want them to go anywhere, anytime soon. I found myself extremely engrossed just within what event will be conjured up next in No More Heroes 2; the cut-scenes themselves are just an absolute joy to watch simply due to their uncanny sense of humour and unpredictability. This is a game that’s fully aware of its insanity and consistently pokes fun at itself, if anything, it’s just great to see a game that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Sure it’s not particularly clever or mature, but it’s entertainment, entrainment like nothing you’ve never seen before.

That is, unless you’ve played the original No More Heroes, the sequel borrows a lot of mechanics from its predecessor. For the most part, you’re still slicing hordes of enemies with Travis Touchdown’s lightsaber esque “katana”, which inevitably leads to it becoming a tedious time-killer, just like it was in the first game. The prospect of running around cutting people with a glowing sword does sound promising in theory, and it is for a while, but the game relies on it too heavily towards the end making it become a regular occurring nuisance. If waves of generic foes are going to become a game’s filler it should at least be immersive. The fighting itself focuses more on spectacle rather than any skill or intuitivity, which creates the Red Steel 2 and MadWorld problem of needlessly dull repetition. Unfortunately this isn’t helped by the Wii’s controls either, I don’t recall any major issues with the motion controls in the original, but when booting up No More Heroes 2, the controlling immediately felt like a desperate struggle. It was almost like a dastardly scheme to make you buy a Classic Controller, which in all fairness, works pretty well and I suppose the continuous bashing of x and y buttons is a better alterative to waggling the remote until your hand’s at an interchangeable angle.

But, if you’re going to do take a bullet to the head, you may as well do it for something worth dying for and No More Heroes does have one redeeming feature. Boss battles. While it may advertise far more than there actually is, every encounter with an assassin merits creating a mountain of bodies for. Each boss has a charismatic, individual personality that carries a distinctive likeable charm; they’re unpredictable, imaginative and a general joy to fight against. It makes me wonder why Suda 51 couldn’t somehow cooperate this into the main game mechanics, all of the brawls are very unique and require the study of attacks and timing, a collaboration of intense battles, there’s some twists, cameos and a number of extreme satisfying finishers to seen within these brawls. No More Heroes really nails the assassin showdowns once again and they truly are the tastiest fruit on the Desperate Struggle tree, delightful to indulge in and certainly worth savouring.

For some though, the trip back to Santa Destroy isn’t worth it. Instead of a vacant overworld to meander around in, there’s now a selection screen, which does serve as an accessible improvement, but it does feel a little backwards. Rather than forcing you to go trouncing back and forth to the job centre to earn cash, they’re now optional tasks in the form of NES games to save up for the game’s unnecessary purchases. All welcome improvements, although Desperate Struggle doesn’t have much to compensate for its lost time. There’s a better sense of variety with some sections that take a different tone or let you play as a different character, which is a nice change of pace from killing legions of angry middle-aged men. But overall though, I am disappointed with No More Heroes 2, I know this was meant to be an article praising it, but you have to understand that this game is imperfect. It’s a game that doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense by any means, and that’s exactly why you should get it. It does so many things right, I don’t really feel it should be ignored. It’s a wonderfully enjoyable game that features an array of remarkably colorful characters, pure genius moments and an absolutely kickass soundtrack. If you just so much as poked No More Heroes 2, style would just ooze out of it, the bizarre mix of visual techniques, its extremely eccentric traits and the game’s love for a woman’s melons all add up into some strange form of art. I may have eventually grown tired of what was offered, but Desperate Struggle still managed to grab me by the throat and hold me there for several hours. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re the right person, you’ll honestly utterly adore No More Heroes 2 and since it’s still such an original title, the only way you can truly find out is by playing it for yourself.

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