But wait, there’s more!
Like the first No More Heroes, Desperate Struggle shows us that an assassin’s life isn’t just about stomping into dangerous places and leaving behind a trail of nasty body parts. It’s also about taking on shit jobs to earn the money to support your cool “profession.” However, along with its new, non-open-world structure, the game’s given its job system an overhaul. No longer do you have to pursue odd-job minigames to earn money before you can advance the plot; this time, the minigames are strictly optional, and pay for things like new clothes, sessions at the gym (which can boost your life bar and attack strength) and food for Travis’s morbidly obese cat, Jeane.
Above: Your personal trainer is wicked tough. Believe it
Optional or no, you’ll actually want to pursue the side jobs, because with one exception (catching scorpions), they’ve all been redesigned as simple 8-bit games, most of which are a lot of fun to play. Most last for about four stages, during which a pixilated little Travis vacuums up pests, arranges Tetris-like wall tiles and delivers pizzas at insane speeds. Some of these minigames are less enjoyable than others – picking up trash in space can get pretty frustrating, as can some of the gym’s strength-training excercises – but for the most part they’re a great diversion from the business of killing. We just wish there’d been more of them.
Above: The glamorous life of an off-duty hitman
Also surprisingly fun is the stuff you can do around Travis’s apartment, which becomes more and more cluttered with anime-themed junk as you find semi-hidden items during missions. First, there’s Jeane, who needs to be exercised down to her fighting weight. Doing this effectively means taking time between every mission to feed and play with her through simple (non 8-bit) minigames that are more fun than you’d expect. There’s a reward for slimming her down to less than 11 pounds, but be warned: if you hated the idea of fake exercise in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you’ll hate fake-exercising a cat even more.
Above: Yes, this counts as exercise
You’ll also be able to play a level of a top-down shooter based on Bizarre Jelly 5, the fake anime that Travis obsesses over and uses to decorate his apartment.
Finish it, and you’ll unlock the nicely animated intro to the absurdly exploitive (and fictitious) Bizarre Jelly 5 anime, which goes out of its way to cram at least one gratuitously sexualized thing into almost every shot.
Above: CAN YOU SPOT THEM ALL?
Wad all that up with plenty of surreal, fourth-wall-breaking gags, a roaring J-punk soundtrack and weird monologues by a sexy nurse who may or may not be directly connected to the story, and you’ve got a compellingly weird package that’s a blast to play. Well, mostly a blast; toward the end of the game, money gets scarcer, some of the levels turn into long, dull slogs against tough enemies and a couple of the bosses have fantastically cheap ways to kill you. Up until then, though, it’s one of the most relentlessly entertaining games to surface so far this year, and it easily earns its place as one of the best on the Wii.
Is it better than…?
No More Heroes ? Yes. The combat has been fine-tuned and feels less chaotic, and as much as we miss roaming freely and finding t-shirts hidden in dumpsters, the (now optional) job minigames more than make up for them. They’re also a lot more entertaining than the first game’s chores and assassination side-missions.
MadWorld ? Yes. MadWorld might be more unflinchingly gruesome and creative with its kills than NMH2, but NMH2’s story, personality, self-aware humor and punk-rock aesthetic easily win out over MadWorld’s tongue-in-cheek gore and jabbering announcers.
Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers? Oh God yes. Don’t let Onechanbara’s hot bikini-girl-on-zombie action fool you; NMH2 is sexier, funnier and a whole lot less repetitive than this cheesecake slash ‘em-up. Plus, not having to waggle the remote constantly just to slash certainly helps.
Just for you, Metacritic!
A bizarre, wonderfully trashy sequel, No More Heroes 2 adds a ton of cool new activities and boss fights without messing too much with what worked the first time. It wears thin toward the end, but until then it’s one of the most brilliant experiences the Wii has to offer.
Jan 26, 2010