Video Game: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle aka: No More Heroes Desperate Struggle
Everybody deals with grief differently, right? Some people fuck at funerals... I cut off heads.
The sequel to the surprise Wii hit No More Heroes (the bestselling game Suda 51 has made). It allowed use of the Classic Controller in addition to using the motion control setup from the first game. It also got rid of the Wide Open Sand Box city, which was the most widely-criticised part of the original game.Three years after the events of No More Heroes, the city of Santa Destroy has become famous thanks to Travis Touchdown's bloody antics and expanded into a seedy urban hub where televised assassin fights are a popular and profitable form of entertainment. Travis himself has retired from the assassin's lifestyle, but leaps back into the spotlight when a gang of thugs hired by the #1-ranked Assassin murder his best friend Bishop. Hungry for revenge, Travis must murder his way back up the ranks of the United Assassins Association for a shot at the culprit, but due to his years of inactivity he must start from Rank #51.The game is mostly a Pastiche of the Revenge Movie genre while continuing the systematic deconstruction of the Professional Killer trope and Otaku culture in general. Throughout his journey, Travis meets many people who have been negatively influenced by the assassin lifestyle (including the assassins themselves), the glamorisation of the lifestyle (like when he meets a Fangirl who wants to be just like him) or just an inability to let go. Unlike the first game, which presented Travis as a dislikeable Anti-Hero to the end, Desperate Struggle actually features some true Character Development as he slowly realises just how screwed up everything to do with assassination and revenge is.
This game features examples of:
Absolute Cleavage: Dr. Naomi. Looks like the money spent on beam katana upgrades went to her chest.
Affably Evil: Captain Vladimir, Alice Twilight, Skelter Helter, and Charlie McDonald. Vladimir hardly knows what's going on, Alice wants to quit being an assassin, Skelter wanted revenge for Travis killing and not even caring about his brother, and Charlie isn't even that bad of a person, he even compliments your name...which is to be expected, as he's a football player.
Margaret Moonlight too. How could you not like someone with such an awesome song?
She makes fun of Travis all through it.
Which he deserves if one looks at it from Margaret's point of view.
Skelter Helter wasn't all that evil either. He only wanted to kill Travis as retribution for him killing his brother.
Ascended Extra/From Nobody to Nightmare: The Pizza Batt corporation. It was a minor, optional antagonistical group in the first game where Travis killed a different CEO for each of the three assassination gigs related to them. The company went on to take control of Santa Destroy and their new CEO is the Big Bad as a direct result of the three former bosses, which were his father and brothers, being killed in the aforementioned assassination gigs.
Automatic New Game: The game does this, only pausing to let you choose your difficulty level and then throwing you in. When you have files saved, it gives you the option to pick which one to load.
Bag of Spilling: Travis hasn't fought or exercised between the games, so he lost all his health and strength upgrades, and wrecked his bike at the end of the first game, hence the replacement. But he still has all the masks you collected in the first game, as well as some moves he learned from Lovikov.
Brick Joke: When first seducing Travis, Sylvia mentions one of her favorite yoga positions is the Downward Dog. After they finally have sex, Travis walks outside and shouts "DOWNWARD FUCKING DOG!"
Near the beginning of the game Travis and Sylvia are talking about his having to get to the top of the UAA rankings to get to the man that killed Bishop who resides in the building across the street from where they are when a man suddenly falls from the sky and smashes the roof of a car. Guess what the Number One assassin's instant kill move does.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Travis claims not to know who Skelter Helter is trying to avenge (Helter Skelter, who only appeared in an early trailer for the first game, and who got about 2 seconds of actual screentime). But as the fight starts, he delivers the immortal line: "When you see your bro in hell, tell him: HE'S STILL! A DOUCHE!".
Remember the Pizza Butt executives you took care of way back in the first No More Heroes? The ones that didn't get any dialogue or cutscenes? It turns out that they were Jasper Batt Jr's father and two brothers, and their deaths are the reason why Batt's pissed off. Thats right, they pulled off a But for Me, It Was Tuesday on the player.
Call Back: The first No More Heroes had Travis say to Henry "Lets find that exit they call paradise!" while in the sequel as he is riding away with Sylvia he says "Sylvia, now that's paradise!"
Skelter Helter attacking "Travis" in the elevator is a call back to the original NMH trailer.
Travis's Mecha used in the 25th ranked fight is modeled on the Mecha used in the bullet hell mini game from the original.
Said mecha comes out of the pool at (the late) Death Metal's mansion.
Bishop was also "busy" when Batt's hitmen came in to kill him.
Character Development: After Travis takes down Alice, he realizes that the other assassins are just as human as he is, and decides to take down the UAA because he's sick of people killing themselves over what is essentially a game.
Earlier than that, even—the turning point seemed to be the fight with Ryuji, and watching Sylvia coldly gun him down. Travis became a lot more compassionate towards his opponents (or as compassionate as you can get when you're killing them in a mad quest for vengeance simply because they're in your way) after that, from Margaret on to Alice.
Don't forget! He rejects Shinobu's sexual advances, saying that their age difference makes their relationship unhealthy ("I feel like a pervy teacher in a porn!") A big step for him, considering that in the first game, his entire motivation was getting into Sylvia's pants, though it may be that he does find Shinobu's advances a bit squicky as he is still trying to get into Sylvia's pants to an extent.
Chekhov's Gun: Several from the first game, including but not limited to killing three business figures of Pizza Butt, Travis' "Vengeance begets vengeance" line (Actually make that all the symbolism from the Jeane fight) and even as far back as the first trailer what with Helter Skelter's lil' bro waging war on Travis once again.
Climax Boss: #2 Alice Twilight, who comes at Travis with beam katanas and a fighting style that's not unlike Travis' own, only with the ante significantly upped by the fact that the boss wields 5 swords.
Clipped Wing Angel: The final, building-sized form of Jasper Batt, Jr. If you managed to beat his previous form, this barely even qualifies as a fight. However, considering his previous form was a particularly frustrating That One Boss, that makes it VERY satisfying to wail on him with near impunity.
The Blood Berry has balanced speed and strength, but it has very powerful Low attacks and very fast High attacks at the cost of battery life, making it wiser to dodge instead of blocking attacks because it'd make the player make numerous retreats to recharge, making it more of a Glass Cannon.
The Camellia Mark III is a Fragile Speedster, having low strength but faster attacks and more battery life than the Blood Berry.
The Peony is a Mighty Glacier, with slow and powerful attacks. Its also Difficult, But Awesome because using it correctly requires knowledge of when to use charged attacks and the step-in slice and only reaches its true potential with a full Awesomeness Meter (which means it can't be used in boss fights as it resets if you continue).
The Rose Nasty can do many weak but plentiful attacks to keep pressure on the opponent and has the largest battery life of them all, making it ideal for winning long battles of atrittion. It could be considered an unusually agile example of a Stone Wall.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: On Deathmatch, the bosses can interrupt your attacks at will. Unless you exploit very specific windows to fight them, they will always counterattack and knock you down. Oh, and if the two of you attack close to each other (leaving aside Blade Lock), the boss's attack always wins.
Continuity Nod: Glastonbury's launchpad is Death Metal's mansion from the original game.
Travis has also scribbled over the photo of Jeane he keeps next to his telephone with a marker, due to the events at the end of the first game.
Cycle of Revenge: Good god, the game may as well have been called No More Heroes: Revenge it up, Bitch.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: The B button is normally used for melee attacks, but is changed to jumping and dashing when you play as Shinobu and Henry, respectively, which can wreak havoc when you see those stars dancing above the enemy's head and reflexively try to do a throw on them. Shinobu does have a throw, but you have to be close to your opponent and immobile to perform it.
Death Seeker: Several assassins in Desperate Struggle seek Travis, the "Crownless King", precisely because they've felt their lives have lost meaning. The 2nd Rank, Alice, says many of them want to know how Travis 'got out' of the life, even if it means escaping only in death.
Destination Defenestration: A particularly annoying aspect of the fight against Jasper Batt, Jr. He can knock you out of the windows of his penthouse, and if he does, you're dead instantly.
Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: Just before the Rank 1 fight, Travis and Sylvia have sex so good that it causes the entire Motel No More Heroes to shake and causes letters to fall off of the sign, turning it from "No More Heroes" to "More Ero".
Disproportionate Retribution: The customers in "Man the Meat" will throw a fork into your eye if you cook their orders wrong. Dude, it was only overdone by a second!
Dragons Up the Yin Yang: Ryuji, the sole Asian challenger to Travis, is able to create an eastern dragon from his sword made of electricity and lasers. It is possible that Dark Star from the original No More Heroes follows this too, as he used the same weapon, but his continent of origin is left unaddressed.
Tiger Versus Dragon: Invoked in the fight, of course. It's only natural that Travis finds him to be his first worthy opponent in the game and gets incredibly pissed off when Sylvia decides to kill him herself.
Expy: Jasper Batt Jr. and his alter-ego Pizza Batt Man are obvious parodies of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Jasper is a wealthy young man who inherited his family's business after his family was murdered, just like Bruce. The main difference, of course, is that Bruce eventually got over wanting revenge and decided to use his talents to help people, while Jasper cares only about revenge. Pizza Batt Man also has a bit of Bane in him, being created after Jasper injected himself with a Venom-like mystery substance that caused him to become disproportionately muscular.
Follow the Leader: Travis appears to have made beam katanas trendy among the assassin community. Just about every other boss - and more than a couple mooks - in Desperate Struggle seems to use them. Helps that at least a couple all but fess up to being inspired directly by Travis himself.
Even more opponents, even Mooks, can do charge attacks and mix in unarmed attacks with weapon attacks.
Four is Death: Margaret defiantly qualifies. If her scythe/guns and Gothic Lolita fashion sense aren't enough to convince you then just listen to her boss song. Also Subverted slightly in that she is a fun, challenging boss that isn't a chore to fight.
Gainax Ending: If anybody can explain why Sylvia became a stripper and what happened to the UAA be my guest.
There is the interpretation that Travis represents the video gamer, Sylvia the game designer, and the fights as games. This interpretation may help in understanding the ending and other parts of this game and the other one.
This troper thought that the ending was the way it is because it was noted early on in the game thart Pizza Batt and the UAA were the two major economical powers in the game, and Travis caused them both to get shut down by destroying Pizza Batt Jr. (The former because it was his company, and the later because Travis told Sylvia to shut down the rank matches, after he finally got his revenge on Pizza Batt Jr.). Because of this, the town lost a vast amount of it's wealth, forcing everyone living in Santa Destroy into severe economical crisis. It just so happened that Sylvia, the golddigger Manipulitive Bastard of the series was one of the people who got his the hardest.
The Grim Reaper: Margaret Moonlight fights with a pair of huge scythes that double as anti materiel rifles, the motif is Lampshaded by the song that plays during the fight.
Reaper, Reaper./ That's what people call me, why?/ Cuz they all die.
Guide Dang It: You can't advance the final boss battle in Desperate Struggle unless you willingly clash with one of the boss's attacks, which isn't alluded to anywhere.
At least in this game, the final scorpion minigame gives you absolutely no direction on the controls.
Irony: You're trying to take down the president of a pizza company while regaining health by eating pizza.
Suplex Pizza was the reigning Santa Destroy pizza shop before Pizza Batt moved in. It's not known whether or not they survived the competition (Burger Suplex survived okay), but it's most likely that the pizza health powerups are just a graphically upgraded Call Back to the first game's 8-bit version.
Ironic / Meaningful Echo: After gunning Ryuji down in the aftermath of the Rank 7 fight, Sylvia chides Travis about trying to fight with honor, and that the ranking fights are no sport. Ironic in that the fights have precisely that thanks to the new UAA and the televised ranking fights. Alice hearkens back to this precise point before her fight, citing her dissatisfaction with what she feels has demeaned the life-and-death battles of the assassins.
Late Arrival Spoiler: Hilariously lampshaded as Sylvia points out that there are people starting at the sequel who don't care about continuity.
Late to the Tragedy: Travis is to take part in a twelve-man battle to determine the 10th ranked assassin. He waits impatiently behind a gate for hours, then it opens just in time to reveal the other assassins getting blown to hell by a returning Letz Shake.
Luck-Based Mission: The latter two levels of Getting Trashed throw so many meteors around at once that you can be knocked all the way across the screen immediately after exiting the space shuttle, only to get bounced around until you run out of air.
Macho Camp: Ryan, the gym trainer. He dons a tight purple suit and frequently tries to hit on Travis.
"Come back again, I'll pump you up!". Seemingly innocuous, but he says it again after saying you're too strong for him to train you anymore.Squick.
Made of Iron: Skelter Helter. He survives having his head cut of, manages to give a speech, then rips off his own head. Consider what Destroyman came back from, one wonders if this death will stick or not..
Male Gaze: Used extensively during the "Phone Sex" exposition segments.
Martial Arts and Crafts: Like the first game, every character is not so much an "Assassin" as they are "Lunatic with Random Weapon."
Mirror Boss: Alice, if you pay attention, has quite a few of Travis's attacks. Too bad you don't get the "throw beam katana with such timing that it makes it nearly impossible to get up thanks to the lack of Mercy Invincibility" attack.
The big thing that makes Alice stand out from other potential Mirror Bosses, such as Ryuji and Skelter Helter, is that Alice borrows a trick that most bosses in any game (save Fighting Games) don't have: canceling her own moves with a dodge-roll.
Though Alice and Margaret (as the latter's music implies) make a pretty good show of it as well. And then there's Naomi.
Multi-Melee Master: Despite only using swords, Travis' beam katanas are so fundamentally different that he counts as one of these. You'll often switch from one blade to another depending on the enemy.
Never Forgotten Skill: Played with. Despite being out of the game for three years, Travis Touchdown can still pull his combat skills like a pro, and he only has to improve on his Stamina and Muscle. However, one of his Dark Side abilities is absent and has been replaced with the ability for Travis to transform into an actual tiger.
New Game Plus: Starting a new game lets you keep all the swords, upgrades, and clothes that you got in your first play. And you're going to need all of it just to pass the tutorial boss if you're playing on Bitter.
No Fourth Wall: Travis, Sylvia, and Henry know that they're in a video game and will frequently break the fourth wall for laughs. Skelter Helter will mockingly suggest you go through the tutorial again while you fight him.
Oh Crap: The mooks' reaction anytime Travis turns into a tiger.
Charlie MacDonald's cries of "HOLY SHIIIIT!" , while he is getting his ass handed to him by Travis.
One-Winged Angel: the final boss pulls off a particularly painfull one for his second form, he attempts to take it a step further with a third form, but it doesn't pan out (See clipped winged angel above). The absolute absurdity of both OWA forms is a jab at the gaming stereotype of it seeming to be almost a necessity in video gaming for this to happen.
Optional Stealth: In the prison infiltration level, you can easily charge through the prison killing mooks on Mild since they die in one hit. Averted on Bitter setting.
Panty Shot: Parioded in the BJ 5 video you can unlock.
Margaret's death scene practically shoves one right in your face, about a second before pulling the sword out.
Pet Peeve Trope: In-universe, when Jasper Batt Jr. pulls a Make My Monster Grow Henry is disgusted with how the events turned out and prefers leaving Travis to fight him alone than being associated with "that travesty".
Revenge: The basis for the game's plot. Travis is thrust back into the UAA rank fights after finding out his best friend from the first game who would bring you Schpeltiger, Bishop, is murdered.
Turns out the revenge aspect of the game comes from both sides. Obviously, Travis participates in the Ranked Fights due to wanting revenge for Bishop's death, but it turns out Bishop was killed because Jasper Batt Jr. wanted revenge on Travis for killing his father and brothers in the "Pizza Butt" missions of the first game. And let's not forget that the reason why Travis got thrust into the assassin scene in the first place is because he want revenge on Jeane (unconsciously), not because of the ranks or Silvia (which he conviently forgot until Rank 1 fight). Speaking of Jeane, SHE herself want revenge because she was abused by Travis's father.
A lot of the characters seem to represent some aspect of revenge. Dr. Letz Shake wants to fight Travis after getting his revenge on Henry despite how purely illogical that is (and even admitting it), Matt Helms turns into a Complete Monster with no purpose in life, Batt is no less deserving of getting his revenge than Travis getting his revenge on Jeane who killed Travis' family (except Travis never went after Jeane's loved ones...assuming she had any), Skelter Helter said that his quest for revenge destroyed him (and it was ultimately futile), Henry wants to settle the score between him and Travis (probably for saying he did his wife in the first game, which may or may not be true) and Shinobu attacked Travis in the first game because she thought he killed her master (he didn't). We also have New Destroyman, who came Back from the Dead to fight Travis (he brawls - and loses - to Shinobu). So, in order, we have poor logic, insanity, the path to revenge begetting vengeance, obsession and futility, immaturity and jumping to conclusions.
Save Point: As mentioned below Shinobu saves by takingashower. Strangely, there's a pristine women's bathroom complete with luxurious shower in an abandoned warehouse (Women's bathroom in a bank is somewhat plausible, since the boss is Million Gunman).
She's All Grown Up: Shinobu was a cute (if murderous) schoolgirl in the first game, but in the sequel.... HOT DAMN.
Shirtless Scene: Travis gets a couple, which prove there's at least one Otaku stereotype he doesn't fit—he's in pretty good shape. Henry gets one as well.
Shoo Out the Clowns: The third and second ranked boss fights are notably more somber in tone than the previous ones, and even the first ranked fight, despite being as ridiculous as they come, is both preceded and followed by serious cutscenes.
In addition, the way Glastonbury rises out of the pool is reminiscent of Mazinkaiser, one attack is essentially a Macross Missile Massacre, and another is fairly much the Zeta Sword. Glastonbury looks akin to Gunbuster (Travis' poster in his living room even has it in the Gunbuster Pose), and Santa Death Parade looks a lot like Dekabutsu.
Ryan, the gym trainer, is at least physically patterned after Freddie Mercury. Right down to the incredible mustache. Though he is considerably doughier in figure.
Matt Helms is a homage to American slasher films - and the environment as much as the man himself, right down to your combined ability to smash almost everything to smithereens. He also looks entirely too much like Chucko from Batman Beyond for it to be a coincidence.
The lead-up to Matt Helms looks and feels so much like it was ripped directly out of one of the environments of Resident Evil 4note specifically, the graveyard that leads up to the church in that game that it cannot be a coincidence.
Matt also does quite a bit of posing like the Pyro from Team Fortress 2, and also has a similarly psychotic laugh and wields a flamethrower that also doubles as an axe.
Split Personality: Literally with New Destroyman. After being bisected by Travis in the first game. Both of his halves ended up rebuilt as cyborgs with two different personalities. One is all business and straight to the point. The other is lewd and crass as all get out. Oh yeah and you gotta face both of them at once in their fight.
Stealth Pun: In Japanese, bara means "rose" and barabara means "separated" or "in pieces." The only beam katana Travis gets that's in two separate pieces is the Rose Nasty.
Stop Helping Me!: The tutorial windows pop up during the middle of the Skelter Helter fight. Even on Bitter Mode. It can cause unfortunate incidents.
His pattern is much easier for that section though, meaning you get what is essentially a free third of his health. On Deathmatch, not so much.
Take That: A clothing store in the final stage of the game, the Santa Destroy Junction Mall, is named Uncanny Valley, and is the most prominent clothing store in the entire building. Considering Santa Destroy's monopolization and this is a game with subtle hints of symbolism made by Suda51, it's nothing short of necessary.
Each Akashic Point takes Travis to a Shout Out stage to a game series made by one of Suda51's friends (Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid). This is, except the last one, which takes you to an overly long city stage with no BGM, very little in the way of color, and repetitive street areas that all look the same—an obvious Take That at Grand Theft Auto, and overly realistic urban environment games in general.
Teleport Spam: Jasper Batt Jr's second form combines this with an attack that gets even worse after a certain point.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: If you listen to the lyrics to the music in the fourth rank fight in the second game, you'll notice that it's basically just Margaret insulting you.
Tiger Versus Dragon: Ryuji as the dragon and Travis as the tiger. Travis is definitely the tiger in all things, and has the motifs as well, and from what little we see of Ryuji, he has the dragon style to match his own motifs.
Am I the only one that saw this fight as a reference to the duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro? Right down to the fact that he gets easier to hit if the sun is facing him.
Three Plus Two: What happened to the Bizarre Jelly anime over the past three years; two new members, Gooseberry and Nutberry, joined.
Too Many Belts: Cloe Walsh wears little besides belts, and hits you with belts on her arms. Travis has some pants with pointless belts attached to them for style, though at least a few are used to hang his beam katanas from.
A more major one came from the Henry trailer. The fact that one of the scenes in the trailer hasn't happened by the time that Henry, Sylvia, and Shinobu are supposedly killed clues most people in that, at the very least, Henry is still alive.
True Final Boss: Interestingly enough, while the main game lacks one, the Bizarre Jelly 5 minigame has one: Glastonbury, only fightable on Special difficulty.
Useless Useful Stealth: Chloe's level. Emphasis on "useful" when you play on Bitter, and on "useless" otherwise.
Vice City: In the first game, Santa Destroy is a bleak and quiet place where people either desperately want to leave or resort to violence. In the sequel, it turns out Travis has started a title fight craze, and the city has become more populated, commercialised and even more crazy.
What Happened to the Mouse?: There is no mention of Sylvia's daughter, Jeane in the sequel. Shinobu disappears completely from the story after appearing for a short while, as does Takashi Miike after visiting Bishop's grave and giving Shinobu the Rose Nasty dual beam katanas to give to Travis.
Possibly justified in the case of Jeane, since there's no indication as to when Jeane was actually born. She may be post-DS.
Travis seems to have gotten over it by Desperate Struggle, considering he chops up the girls the first boss was hanging with, and kills other female assassins. Although he only killed them because said assassin tried to use them as weapons.
He still can't kill Co-eds, though, as he spares Kimmy's life by powerbombing her instead. It's implied that part of the reason Travis didn't kill Kimmy was because she still considered the assassin gig a game and didn't bother to consider any of the consequences of getting into it. Since it seems a bit unlikely that she had actually killed any other Ranked Assassins before that point, he may of figured she at least still had a chance at having a normal life.
Travis' rant immediately after hitting Rank 2 definitely seems to be this.
You Get Knocked Down, You Get Back Up Again: Averted rather annoyingly. While you have such power when knocked down, you don't have it when you have just got up. The number 2 ranked assassin takes great advantage of it and has a move that seems to be designed to lock you in a knocked down state until you die.
You Killed My Father: Travis having killed Jasper Batt Jr's father (and brothers) in the first game is what spurs him to arrange for the events in the second game to take place.
Zerg Rush: A lot of the levels before the bosses are basically the game throwing 3 enemy types with about 7-8 skins between them over and over, but that parking lot. It's about twenty minutes of killing the same guys over and over.
It's not so bad when you use it to learn all of the different Beam Katanas, as at that point in the game all will finally become available.
Zettai Ryouiki: Dr Naomi and Margaret, Margaret even mentions it in her song:
/Thigh-high socks and my absolute territory/Go on and drool the Otaku can not resist/