Suda 51 likes madness; clearly. No More Heroes, his Wii-exclusive third-person hack-em-up through barmy boss fights and mundane part-time jobs, was mental. The sequel, Desperate Struggle, is even crazier.
No More Heroes' stylised visuals, video game references and over-the-top violence (this time with spraying blood), return. So does the Johnny Knoxville-inspired anti-hero Travis Touchdown, who this time climbs up the assassin ladder because he reckons Sylvia Christel - the voluptuous United Assassins Association agent from the first game - will have sex with him if he hits the number one spot. Travis is as horny as ever, but the camera is even more obsessed with tits and arse than the game's spiky-haired protagonist. In between assassination missions we perv over Christel at every available opportunity, glancing a peek at her knickers from behind a pane of glass and zooming in on her breasts as she wobbles about on a vibrating exercise machine.
And the beam katanas return, too. There are two types of stances: low and high, a slash attack, and a melee attack, which doubles as a grab from which you can do wrestling moves like suplexes by following the on-screen waggle prompts (or the thumb stick prompts, if you're using the Classic Controller).
No More Heroes 2's combat is as basic and unsophisticated as it was in its predecessor. All it amounts to is locking on to a target, spamming sword slices and emergency evading out of the way of retaliatory attacks. It's occasionally frustrating, too. The camera, over which you have hardly any control, sometimes decides to lobotomise itself, particularly in enclosed areas. But my main beef with the game's slashing and body slamming is that it's repetitive. As you progress further up the assassin ladder the game spawns more and more enemies lifted from its dozen or so bad guy variations - a lazy move that only serves to highlight the combat's failings.
The Tension Gauge, which fills up by killing enemies but decreases when you get hit, adds a degree of depth. Depending on how full it is, you trigger different results: if it's over 75 per cent combo attacks are extended, for example. If it's at its maximum, however, a press of the minus button triggers Darkside mode, turning Travis into a tiger and mauling his enemies in gruesome slow motion.
In reality, though, the Tension Gauge and Darkside mode just extend the number of ways Travis can kill a man (or thing, as is often the case). At the end of the day, fighting in No More Heroes 2 is as throwaway an experience as it was in the first game, and not significantly improved. When the most memorable thing about the combat is the fact that Travis looks like he's masturbating when you recharge his beam katana, and the icon that displays his weapon's energy looks like a penis, you know it's poor.
But we suffer the combat's flaws because No More Heroes 2 is often spectacularly barmy and astonishingly violent. Death blows decapitate screaming enemies and split torsos in half both vertically and horizontally. Suplexes slam skulls into the concrete with the ferocity of a thousand professional wrestlers. When the blood's spraying it's hard not to feel the kind of satisfaction you get from Tarantino's Kill Bill, a film that has clearly influenced No More Heroes 2's design.