We’re not even at the end of the first month and already 2010 has been relentless on both our wallets and our free time. I can’t remember the last time we had this many quality releases this short into a new year and although it’s overwhelming, it’s also incredibly exciting.
At the end of my Bayonetta review I issued a challenge to all other 2010 releases and said that Bayonetta is now officially the game to beat. I didn’t expect to have a worthy contender so soon but No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (from here on known as NMH2) has arrived and it’s gunning for Bayonetta’s throne.
I loved the first NMH and would easily rank it amongst my favourite Wii titles. It was stylish, fun, entirely unique, and held up to numerous playthroughs. The sequel had a lot to live up to but it is more than up to the task and manages to outdo its predecessor in just about every way, which is not an easy feat.
Without giving anything away, the story is once again a strong point in NMH2. It’s ridiculous, over-the-top and very self aware (lots of fourth wall breaking), but it’s also incredibly involving. Bayonetta had those first points down, but I was never actually invested in anything that was going on. In NMH2 I actually cared about the events taking place, and the characters that were involved.
As with the first game, NMH2 is full of style and personality. It has its own unique look and feel that is now immediately recognizable. It never fails to throw something insane at you but it never feels like it’s too much. Every time you think that’s as crazy as it gets, the game is more than happy to prove you wrong.
However, as I’ve said before, style doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the substance to go with it. No need for that concern here, as NMH2 is easily some of the most fun that can be had with a video game right now.
The combat hasn’t changed too much from the first NMH. You have your beam katana and you unload combos on guys until you are prompted to swing the remote in a certain direction. This of course takes down your opponent in any number of gruesome fashions, usually the cutting in half of their body either horizontally or vertically. The combat is fast, frantic, and oh so fun. The lack of camera control does make it difficult to keep up with the action at some points, but the lock-on mechanic works well and helps to overcome this.
As much fun as it is slicing through wave after wave of minions (and it is a LOT of fun), it’s probably no surprise that the boss fights are where this game really shines. 2010 seems to be the year of epic boss fights, a trend NMH2 is more than happy to contribute to. There are a ton of boss fights in this game and each one feels completely different from the next. The best part is that they are all insanely fun. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of a weak link in the bunch. There are a few boss encounters where after you have completed them, you find yourself looking forward to another play through so you can experience it again.
There is one new feature to the combat in this game that I haven’t touched on yet – the ability to fight as different characters other than Travis Touchdown. There are two other characters you will control in the game and although neither are a drastic change from Travis, they do each have a unique feel to them. One of them has a larger focus on platforming, which to be honest I could have done without. The camera never seems to line up how you want it, which can lead to a lot of jumping trial and error. It’s fine, but it’s certainly not my favourite part of the game.
Although the combat and epic boss fights have been carried over from the first game, a lot has changed here, and almost all of it is for the better. The biggest and most important change to me is the city navigation. The first game had a quasi-open world thing going on but the problem was that the city you were in felt empty and lonely. These sections just bogged the experience down and actually killed some of the momentum between battles.
The sequel does away with all of that. Instead of physically moving around the world, you are now given an overworld map where you can simply select your location of choice. I can’t stress enough how much I prefer this system of navigation. Everything moves along so much quicker and there is hardly any load times to speak of as you travel from place to place. It’s much more streamlined and keeps everything moving along at a rapid pace.
Also new here are the mini-games/side jobs. Granted the first NMH had mini-games, but ooooo man not like this. While the first game had a lot of references to the world of 8-bit gaming, this one completely embraces that by having each mini-game actually be it’s own 8-bit title! That’s right! Each and every mini-game (with the exception of that damn scorpian collecting game) feels like you are playing an old Nintendo game. The graphics, the music, everything about it will take you right back to those glory days.
What’s even better is that these are actual good games! I mean they could have easily sold these as stand alone games like 15 years ago. There are a couple of weak links in the bunch but there is at least some fun to be had with each and every one. They are all completely unique from one another as well. One has you running around a maze and exterminating bugs, another has you delivering pizzas in a throwback to Mach Rider and Rad Racer, and so on. Each one has four levels and some of them are fun enough that you will keep going back to them. Even the training mini-games are done in the same style. It’s a great addition to the game and one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve maybe ever had in any video game.
Those are just the games on the overworld map. There are even more games inside of your apartment. You can help your cat lose weight, or watch this weird Japanese anime called BJ5. There’s also a top down shooter you can play based on this anime. As you can see, there is a ton of things to do in this game outside of the main ranked missions.
See right here is when I would normally would say “oh but it’s not all good” and proceed to list some of the problems. I…I don’t know if I can do it though. I mean yes the camera controls aren’t great, the platforming parts are a little wonky and the game is kind of short. But the camera can be overlooked, the platforming makes up a very small part of the game and there is tons of replay value. I’m not saying it’s a perfect game, but I am hard pressed to think of too many flaws here.
If there was ever any Mature Wii title that deserved to sell tons of copies, this one is it. Anyone who is on the fence about it, get the fuck off that fence and go buy this game. You won’t regret it in the slightest.