No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle Hands-On

PAX 2009: We try out Suda 51's next entry in this fun and eccentric Wii action game.

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Suda 51's development studio Grasshopper Manufacture first introduced players to Travis Touchdown and the eccentric residents of Santa Destroy in 2006's fantastic No More Heroes, an original third-person action game for the Wii. Travis and company are back in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, which is due early next year for the Wii. The first demo of the upcoming game was playable in Ubisoft's booth on the Penny Arcade Expo 2009 showfloor.

Who's Making This Game: Grasshopper Manufacture.

What The Game Looks Like: Although NMH2 sticks to the graphical style of the original game, there are a number of enhancements. From what we saw in the demo, No More Heroes 2 has undergone some graphical tweaks that give it a sleeker look. The character shading has been refined, and Travis sports a higher level of detail. The onscreen interface is roughly the same, although there's a goofy revamp of the energy katana charge interface that's well in line with the game's irreverent sense of humor. The only hitch is the game's camera, which, as in the original game, can set itself at some irritating angles.

What There Is to Do: The demo let us go through a few rooms and beat suit-wearing enemies into pulp, collect pizza, and then face off against a boss. Although the action was short and sweet, we were able to get a feel for combat, including the new dual energy katanas, and the totally insane storytelling. The combat segments were set along the rooms and halls in what appeared to be an opulent mansion that led to the boss. The boss encounter was, in true NMH style, ridiculously over the top. Honestly, when a fight kicks off with Travis and his foe (a boom-box-wielding villain who looks like a demented hip-hop artist), it can only go up from there. As if the fight couldn't have been more surreal, Travis' opponent shot rockets out of his boom box while lasers shot out of the ceiling.

How The Game Is Played: The NMH2 demo played very much like the original game. You'll use the remote and nunchuk to move Travis around. You'll perform slash attacks with the A button, and kicks and physical attacks will be assigned to the B button. The B button attacks can be charged by holding the button down. The direction you hold the remote in will affect Travis' stance, alternating between high and low, which is key for attacking and blocking. When your energy katana runs out of juice, you'll hit the 1 button to go into recharge mode and be required to shake the remote to build up a charge. The 2 button calls up an in-game weapon menu to let you switch between single or dual katana wielding. The C button lets you reset the camera, and the Z button lets you guard and lock on to a target. Shaking the nunchuk lets you perform a jumping slash. Finally, the D pad lets you perform an evasive roll. While performing the combos, you'll get motion prompts for the remote to perform finishers, as well as dual remote and nunchuk motions to perform throws. As before, the system works well and feels responsive.

What They Say: Ubisoft reps on hand were clearly pleased with the demo and pointed out the evolution of the action and humor from the first game.

What We Say: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle makes a good and hilarious first impression. The game looks sharp and plays well already, which has left us excited to dive in with more of the game. If you were a fan of the original game, NMH2 is for you. If you never tried the first game, NMH2 will be a good chance to find out what you've been missing out on.

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