No More Heroes wasn't a game you'd want your mum to catch you playing. With gratuitous swearing and violence, a sex-obsessed main character and gameplay mechanics that included squatting on the loo to save the game and some rather 'suggestive' Remote gestures, it was pretty offensive stuff.
Thankfully, unlike some other Wii titles that have gone for the shock factor (we're looking at you, Manhunt 2), No More Heroes had plenty of substance and charm to go with the controversy. As well as fantastic combat, the game was funny, challenging and had a style all of its own, cleverly paying tribute to retro videogaming while delivering cutting edge action with a knowing wink.
The first No More Heroes was nothing if not quirky, following the story of Johnny Knoxville look-alike Travis Touchdown, an anime and wrestling obsessed 'otaku' who happens upon a lightsaber (or 'beam katana', for lawsuit-avoiding reasons) on eBay and decides to become the world's number one assassin.
Now 30, Travis has lost none of his individuality, but his motivation has changed. In the original game, Travis was, to put it bluntly, a bit of an arse. Selfish, arrogant, vain and driven primarily by his raging libido, he was out for himself. In Desperate Struggle, things have got personal, as some dastardly villain has killed Travis' friend, the manager of the local video store. Given that this is where Travis acquires his beloved Mexican wrestling videos from, he's not going to take this sitting down and sets off on a roaring rampage of revenge.
You've Got Red On You
Now, No More Heroes was an exceptionally violent game. If you lived in America, that is. In Japan and the EU, the geysers of blood that sprayed from defeated enemies were replaced by coins and black dust - an effect that played on NMH's homage to classic 8-bit games. For the sequel, European gamers will apparently be able to pick between two versions of the game - the 'mild', censored version, or the 'extreme' one, complete with enough blood to give MadWorld a run for its money. Make no mistake, there will be a lot of the red stuff flowing, with Travis' dual beam katanas now able to slice and dice enemies into tiny pieces.
That's right. Dual beam katanas. With a glowing laser blade in each hand, the options afforded in combat have multiplied. Action sequences become a kinetic, technicolour blur with some of the prettiest graphics we've seen on the Wii. Purists can opt to stick with one katana, but with the combat options and potential for carnage offered by two, we think they'll be in the minority. Series creator Suda 51 also promises some tasty new wrestling moves, inspired by Travis' fascination with lucha libre grapplers.
Meanwhile, an upgraded physics system means that Travis is free to hurl his enemies through furniture, into walls and over high ledges. Enemies have apparently been busy taking martial arts classes, with new AI meaning combat will flow better, and foes changing their tactics on the fly to cope with your attacks.
Since the events (and utterly baffling ending) of the original, Travis has slipped down the global assassin rankings to 51st place. That means he'll have to chop, hack, slice and wrestle his way through 50 killers in order to regain the coveted number one spot.
Climbing The Ladder
Grasshopper is keeping its cards very close to its chest with regards to the assassins you'll be fighting in order to boost your way up the rankings, but what we've seen so far would indicate that they've lost none of their flair for wacky character design. Nathan Copeland, the only assassin to be officially revealed so far, is a rapper who uses his mad hip hop skills to spread his demented religious message. Still not off-the-wall enough for you? His ghetto blaster transforms into a set of cyber arms and he uses his groupies as weapons by hurling them at you. Happy now?