Travis Touchdown is your everyday otaku assassin living out of the No More Heroes Motel in Santa Destroy, California. Some might consider his obsession with anime, professional wrestling, action figure collecting, and pornography borders on unhealthy. Others would consider it’s what makes him unique among other assassins. Regardless of what he does in his personal life, one thing is for certain: Travis Touchdown will kick your ass.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle takes place three years after the events of the original game. After rising up to the #1 spot of the United Assassin Association (UAA), he returns for revenge and is made to battle through 51 of the UAA’s strongest and most unique assassins to get to the man responsible for his friend’s death. No More Heroes 2 drops the open-world feel of the original title and replaces it with an overview map where the player can pick where they would like to go. Players can either take on the main story and choose to enter a “Ranked Battle”, earn extra cash with some mini-games, or even work out with a man of questionable sexuality named Ryan.
Travis’ iconic beam katana returns along with new beam katanas that can be changed on the fly and offer a slight difference in combat. Depending on how you hold your Wii Remote, Travis can perform either a “low” or “high” positioned attack by hitting the ‘A’ button. Combos are easy to pull off as they can be chained together by mashing the ‘A’ or ‘B’ buttons, then finishing them off with either a wrestling move or a “death blow” which requires players to follow on-screen prompts with their Wii Remote & Nunchuck. If Travis connects with his attacks without receiving any serious damage, his ‘Ecstasy Meter’ will rise. Once the Ecstasy Meter reaches full, Travis becomes invincible and can then unleash a barrage of quick attacks that can deal some serious damage. There are times when Travis’ beam katana might become weak. Thankfully, a quick jerk of the Wii Remote will quickly charge the batteries in the beam katana. Certain missions will allow players to assume the role of Shinobu or Henry as they assist Travis in defeating some of the 51 assasins Travis must defeat. Both characters offer a similar fighting style to Travis’, but each have their own secondary attack.
Overall, I enjoyed the combat system for its fast pace and how satisfying it was to finish an enemy off with either a wrestling move or death blow. One issue I had was the location of the button to change targets on the Wii Remote. Why on Earth the developers would decide to bind the ‘2’ button to change enemies is beyond me as it’s location can make changing targets difficult, especially during heated battles. I found myself letting go of the ‘Z’ button, which is used to lock on to enemies, and then hitting it again in order to attempt to change targets.
The assassins Travis will face during his adventure are some of the most unique characters I’ve witnessed in a game. Travis will battle Gothic Lolitas, football stars, and even a Russian astronaut. These are just three examples of the very unique 51 assassins that Travis will face. The unfortunate thing is since there are so many assassins to fight, there really isn’t much of a back story to any of them besides being someone that Travis needs to fight through in order to get to the top of the UAA. With how unique each assassin was, I would have loved to learn more about them.
Nearly everything in No More Heroes 2 screams satire. Travis isn’t only deadly with a beam katana, but his tongue is as deadly as he insults and curses at enemies during battle. Many of his wise-cracks are actually pretty funny and offering a refreshing perspective. As Travis slices and dices his enemies, blood will shoot out of nearly every orifice, which just goes to show how over-the-top this title really is.
Many of the mini-games in No More Heroes 2 pay homage to old-school 8-bit NES games. Each mini-game has its own little story as to why you need to play them such as being a pizza deliveryman or gathering up coconuts. The purpose of the mini-games is to earn money which can be used to upgrade Travis’ weapons, clothes, and even help train him to be a better fighter. Other mini-games, such as helping excercise your cat, offer bonus items or moves that can only be achieved by completing the mini-game. Compared to No More Heroes grind-tastic mini-games, No More Heroes 2’s mini-games are a welcome change and don’t feel as grind-y.
FINAL THOUGHT: No More Heroes 2 is a breath of fresh air as far as hack-n-slash games go. Travis is a character most gamers can relate to, which is why most gamers will enjoy this title. The combat system, even with its minor shortcomings, is fast-paced, fun, and offers just the right amount of gore. With mini-games a-plenty, a slick and unique graphic style, and a lot of humor, No More Heroes 2 is a great improvement over the original title.