No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle review

  • Sharp, genuinely funny writing
  • Buckets of flying gore
  • 8-bit jobs a welcome, well-designed curveball
  • Shinobu's jumping puzzles are awful
  • A couple of the bosses are wicked cheap
  • Combat gets to be a slog toward the end

It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes No More Heroes so damned appealing. The combat’s fairly simple and repetitive, the protagonist’s a filthy, selfish idiot who’s always on the toilet, and the plot concerns an association for assassins who apparently have nothing better to do than constantly duel each other to see who’s best. By all rights it should be terrible, but its unique combination of slick cartoon visuals, clever controls, deadpan goofiness, teasing sexuality and over-the-top, cult-film-inspired ultraviolence instead make it one of the best games on the Wii.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle not only continues that bold tradition, but improves on it, streamlining it into something bigger, faster, smarter and sillier. The action’s more or less the same, with geeky punk assassin Travis Touchdown carving up squads of inconsequential thugs with a Beam Katana, but it’s been refined, with more varied enemies and a more natural feel.

Meanwhile, the first game’s free-roaming segments – during which you could tool around the city of Santa Destroy, Calif., on Travis’s futuristic motorbike – are gone entirely, replaced with direct access to missions, side jobs and other points of interest. Fans of the original shouldn’t worry, though; while it might seem like a big part of the game has been stripped out, the things that replace it are actually more interesting.

Above: It looks like a boring way to get around, but it’ll let you concentrate on more important stuff 

Nobody cares about story

First, though, the setup: when we last saw Travis, he’d clumsily murdered his way through Santa Destroy’s criminal underworld, been crowned the world’s greatest hitman and was locked in an inconclusive life-or-death duel with his long-lost twin, Henry. Opening three years later, No More Heroes 2 almost immediately tells us that what’s happened to Travis since then doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that he survived to walk away from his assassin job, only to re-enter the profession after his best friend – Bishop, the guy at the video store – is murdered.

Unfortunately for Travis, his infamous exploits have turned assassination into a huge fad, and so he’ll have to start at the bottom again by killing some douche who’s a dead ringer for Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife.

Above: Douche 

In this case, “the bottom” means that he’s ranked 51st by the mysterious United Assassins Association, which theoretically means he’ll have to kill his way through 50 unique boss fights if he wants to reclaim his top spot. We say “theoretically” because the “51” is actually just a reference to series creator Suda51; in reality, various plot twists ensure you’ll only have to fight 15 of the bastards, which is still a big step up from the previous game’s 10.

No mercy for killers

The assassins themselves vary wildly, and fighting them is easily the highlight of the game. They all require unique strategies, nearly all of them are rivetingly chatty and they include weirdoes like a money-obsessed sharpshooter, a singing gothic-Lolita sniper, a floating Cosmonaut backed up by a laser satellite, and a cloyingly psychotic little anime girl. Oh, and these… people:

Above: What could possibly happen next? You’ll just have to play to find out…

Of course, to get to them, you’ll almost always have to hack your way through a few dozen waves of their goons first, ranging from skinny thugs with clubs to huge, incredibly tough guys with chainsaws, with plenty of other gun-and-blade-wielding nobodies in between. Like in the first game, combat is deceptively simple – mashing on the A button swings Travis’s Beam Katana, holding the Wii remote high or low determines his stance, and pulling B launches hand-to-hand attacks that can stun blocking enemies and initiate wrestling throws.

There are a few cool additions this time around, though, not the least of which are more powerful, remote-swinging attacks and the ability to switch between up to four different Beam Katanas at any time. Also new are some of the invincibility modes you’ll slip into when you’ve shed enough blood, which now include super-speed, the ability to shoot balls of energy and the ability to run around for a few seconds mauling people as a god damn tiger.

Above: Oh hell yes 

Another interesting change: you won’t always play as Travis this time.

More Info

Release date: Jan 26 2010 - Wii (US)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Action
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Grasshopper Manufacture
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • VideoGameKing - March 29, 2010 12:35 a.m.

    i miss the free roam,takeing that is like killing someone,other then that most of the mini-games are fine,some do need to be in 3D thoght
  • drako691 - February 27, 2010 6:26 p.m.

    thats supposed to be "should i get the first NMH before this one?" stupid typos!
  • drako691 - February 27, 2010 6:25 p.m.

    i guess they really were lying when they told me the wii was didnt get hardcore games...stupid ps3 fanboys lied to me D: the game looks great, but should i get NMH before playing this one, or does it really matter?
  • ThisIsEpic - February 13, 2010 6:41 a.m.

    Suda 51 is the god of videogames when it comes to comical,bloody,gorey,pervy action games
  • BigBoss - February 9, 2010 2:20 p.m.

    Does anyone know what the framerate is like in the game? Just going through the first one and it's all over the shop. I wondered if they locked it at 30 or even 60.
  • Rodnroll - February 7, 2010 6:02 a.m.

    Great. I enjoyed the first one a lot, actually it was by far the only game i found worthy of playing on the Wii before i threw mine over the window and switched to another console.
  • oufour - January 30, 2010 4:26 p.m.

    reasons that make you wish you didn't brake your wii.
  • 4fromK - January 30, 2010 12:44 a.m.

    Those 8 bit style minigames just made this game shoot up my radar significantly
  • MaynardJ - January 29, 2010 11:42 a.m.

    I am buying a Wii some time this year. That's a promise. Why do people even try to compare this to ME2? I tried the first Mass Effect, but it was way too elaborate for me so I gave up after an hour; why would I want to tweak every personal statistic and choose between 15 marginally different weapons if I can have good old school bloody fun with NMH? The games and their audiences are way too different to seriously compete with each other. I think most people owning a 360 and a Wii have been waiting for another hardcore Wii title like this one.
  • Consti2tion - January 29, 2010 12:38 a.m.

    Yes this game was amazing. Like the first game you start out with only two difficulty levels Sweet and Bitter unlocking the 3rd after completing the game once. Sweet plays like a Normal Difficulty it's easy but its not too easy. The Bosses can take a bigger beating on Bitter compared to Sweet though. I Do think the Sequence you play as Henry was lacking though. Its only a Boss fight, where as Shinobu had 2 full levels complete with Boss fights.
  • Amnesiac - January 28, 2010 11:23 p.m.

    If I had a Wii I'd buy 5 copies.
  • TheMax - January 28, 2010 4:24 p.m.

    Ive got the first but never finished it, properly cus its on wii :(. This looks Fan-Bloody-Tastic in comparsion tho !!
  • DeathbyFira - January 28, 2010 9:16 a.m.

    i loved the first one and i am so exicetd that finaly the wii is getting some great games i am definitely getting this Tatsunoko vs Capcom and Mass effect 2 and resverve FFXIII lol i dont think i am going to be going outside for a while lol thank u mom and dad for telling me to save all my cash up i think i owe them a greeting card lol
  • Tyboy - January 28, 2010 4:55 a.m.

  • Stabby_Joe - January 28, 2010 1:23 a.m.

    Finally a Japanese made game that takes note and makes fun of its sexualization of obscure things.
  • pastycaucasian - January 28, 2010 12:12 a.m.

    The first one was great game hopefully gamers finally realize that there are some good games on the Wii.
  • Cyberninja - January 28, 2010 12:11 a.m.

    i wish i was smart enough to wait until this game came out beat it and the put the wii downstairs in the living room oh well i might still get TvC later
  • Bonerawr - January 27, 2010 10:13 p.m.

    Is it me or does Mr. Touchdown sounds like a Robot Chicken character?
  • Xeacons - January 27, 2010 6:07 p.m.

    Not surprised. NMH was a masterpiece and this one looked even better. Question is: Will it sell? Are the videos Nintendo's been pushing on their channel enough to capture the hearts of Wii fans who, apparently, have given up on their beloved console? Only time will tell...
  • Conman93 - January 27, 2010 4:35 p.m.

    This may be my first new game of the year

Showing 1-20 of 40 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000