In addition to No More Heroes launching on Nintendo Switch, its sequel, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, also made an appearance. Similar to the first game’s port, this release runs and looks better than it did on the Wii. It also has many improvements over its predecessor in regards to gameplay. However, the title is missing a bit of style the original game has.
Claw your way back to the top
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle takes place three years after the first game. Travis has been missing in action from Santa Destroy after being ranked the number one assassin in the United States. Upon his return, he learns he has to fight his way through 50 assassins this time to reach the top of the mountain.
After this revelation, Travis’ best friend, Bishop, is killed by henchmen. When Travis learns of the murder, he swears revenge on the person responsible, who happens to be the number one ranked assassin. A convenient plot device, to be sure, but wouldn’t it make more sense for Bishop to die first and then Travis vows to rise through the rankings to avenge his buddy? The plot seems uneven compared to the more straightforward “I wanna have sex with the hot chick” story of the first game.
Dispatching baddies is even more fun than before
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle‘s gameplay is better than in the original. Attacks land more smoothly, you can combo your punches to set up wrestling finishers, and you have an ecstasy gauge that enables super-fast attacks once full. Random super moves make a return, too, with Travis transforming into a literal tiger being the highlight. Beam katanas you purchase can be swapped through on the fly during a battle, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. Other characters are playable in some sections, including the badass ninja Shinobu and Travis’ brother, Henry. Above all, the coolest addition is your energy meter is represented by a phallic-looking face in the upper right corner, which turns flaccid when drained. The greatest visual cue in a video game, bar none.
Side missions are greatly improved over those in the first game, as well. Travis can travel to different ones through a menu, meaning the barren overworld is gone completely. Though cash is no longer required to enter a ranked battle, you still need money to get buy upgrades and outfits. Side jobs are now 8-bit affairs, each paying homage to a different genre and way more enjoyable to play. Buffs to your health and stamina are also done in this retro style with a slightly problematic flamboyant instructor.
Revenge missions against the men who killed Bishop also appear after a certain time and net you a cool outfit if you complete them all. Most importantly, there are minigames designed to help your cat, Jeane, lose weight. They all look ridiculous, and you can unlock a special ability for Travis by helping Jeane get healthy.
A loss of magic
Even with all these awesome features, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle lacks a certain je ne sais quoi No More Heroes has: The plot is convoluted, with weird transitions to a gentlemen’s club popping up at times and contrivances thrown in to limit the number of bosses Travis must dispatch. (You don’t really kill 50.) The art style is cel-shaded, which isn’t as unique as that of the original. Improving the overworld would have been preferable to dismissing it completely. Shinobu’s levels are marred by terrible platforming. Bosses are named with a splash screen after you kill them instead of before, something No More Heroes did more stylishly. Also, the baddies aren’t as memorable, which may be due to the fact Suda51 wasn’t Desperate Struggle‘s main director. This is all in addition to the first game’s issues with some wonky controls and lack of an autosave.
Still, Desperate Struggle is a great action game. It has some fantastic one-liners, the end boss is a sight to behold, and there are a lot of cool moments peppered throughout. If you fully analyze the good and bad, it’s no better or worse than No More Heroes. Play them both back to back while awaiting No More Heroes III.
A review code was provided by the publisher.