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If you follow Suda 51’s resume of games, you’ll know what a tangled web the No More Heroes maestro weaves. A ghostly porter in Killer7 is alive and kicking in Flower, Sun and Rain. Michigan’s ill-fated news reporters chart the events of No More Heroes. Killer7’s lead hitman even turns up to kill Travis in No More Heroes’ ‘bad’ ending. It’s as if these characters slosh around in Suda’s head like a pixellated goulash, waiting to be randomly ladled onto a disc. It’s no great surprise, then, to see old No More Heroes favourites returning from the dead and, in two cases, in playable form…
Suda was in good form at the Tokyo Game Show, bringing with him a replica beam katana with which to clatter journalists. He also brought the first footage of Shinobu, the original game’s achingly cool teen assassin who turns up for two playable levels in this sequel.
Shinobu (aka Scarlet Jacobs) was the third assassin Travis fought in his climb to the number one rank, spared on the grounds that he doesn’t kill girls, but left minus a hand nonetheless. At least there are no hard feelings – she now seems to be Travis’ apprentice, calling him ‘Master.’ Knowing Suda though, this could just be a kinky thing.
Shinobu takes center stage for just two levels, and it looks as if she means to make the most of them. Fighting with a proper katana, her combat seems flightier as she cartwheels and flips between goons dispensing short, sharp stabs. Unlike Travis she can jump, letting her hop over foes before running her blade down their backs as she falls to earth.
Yes, this young lady clearly shares Travis’ sense of the theatrical, carving opponents in two with brutal finishers. Lopping torsos at the waist, the sight of a pair of legs transformed into a bloody fountain would raise even Uma Thurman’s eyebrows.
But this swordplay isn’t just for show – she’s pitted against another (sort of) returning face, New Destroyman. Since the original Destroyman – a cosplaying postman best known for firing lasers from his crotch and, er, somewhere even more unsavoury – was cleaved down the spine by Travis, a cyborg body has been added to each half to make two Destroymen. As one pummels Shinobu face-to-face, the other unleashes his patented groin lasers from a safe distance. Suda claims Desperate Struggle’s theme is revenge – we wonder how many other old favourites will be back for a second fight as a robot, clone or whatever.