I first got into gaming through a NES I'd begged by mum to buy me for my birthday after playing Mario & Chip Dale Rescue Rangers at a friends house. I remember how bright the colours were, the crispness of the sound, and the sheer unputdownable nature of those games. It taught me how to rescue princesses, save worlds and shoot ducks. It also started my love affair with games.
What I'm playing now:
Red Dead Redemption
Mass Effect 2
Super Street Fighter 3D
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Ocarina of Time
Black & White
Both No More Heroes and its sequel Desperate Struggle have some of the most compelling villains I’ve ever encountered within games, villains who elicit sympathy, amusement, ire and confusion. And sometimes villains who just aren’t villains. But today I’m not going to write about Shinobu, Margaret Moonlight (my favourite) or that kick ass cosmonaught who constantly cries out to a Mission Control that never answers. Today I want to talk to you about Jeane.
Jeane’s presence is very much in the background or the majority of the game. There’s a picture of her on Travis’ desk, and there’s the fact he’s named his cat after her too. It’s only when she kill-steals your final opponent, Dark Star that you actually get to see her in person. Moments before Jeane puts her fist through Dark Star’s testicles, Travis has flashes back to a memory of finding both his parents dead, and standing in between them, covered in blood is Jeane, his childhood sweetheart, his first love.
Jeane explains to Travis that she is the whole reason he has embarked on the road of the assassin, so he could kill her and at last have revenge. Cue a flashback of Travis sprawled out on the bar, complaining to Sylvia Christel how he’d lost everything that he’d cared about and how “that bitch took everything.”
Jeane then explains why she had to kill Travis’ father, but not before breaking the fourth wall and telling Travis she would have to fast forward through the explanation, otherwise the age rating of the game would be jacked up to an R, causing it to languish in development hell . Jeane’s explanation of what drove her to kill his father is horrifying. Jeane is actually Travis’ half sister who resents Travis and his family, as her father abandoned her causing her mother to commit suicide. Her father takes her back in, only to sexually molest her. Having no money to pay for training, Jeane has to resort to prostitution to train to kill her father.
Travis himself probably says it best when he says “maybe it had to be done, but vengeance begets vengeance”, which sums up his entire journey towards this point. The siblings fight it out, but after a long drawn-out fight, Jeane puts her hand through Travis’ chest, her literal action mirroring the metaphorical heartache she has caused him. If not for Shinobu’s timely intervention, Travis would surely be dead at his sister’s hand. At first Jeane pleads Travis not to kill her, calling him “brother”. But Travis is unrepentant and tells her it’s time to rest, before cutting her down.
Jeane's vengeance is threefold - first she killed Travis' parents in front of his very eyes, which causes him to go through the grief she had in losing a parent and makes him into what she is - a remorseless killer. If not for Shinobu, Jeane would have had her full revenge upon Travis and she would've ripped his heart right out of his chest. As it is, her revenge is still partly successful, and the reverberations of the revelations she tells Travis can be felt in Desperate Struggle, as he walks away from the ranking fights as the number 1 killer. He has killed his parent's murderer, but he has also killed his half sister and his first love. He discovers he has a twin brother in Henry, only to find they are both locked in the same interminable cycle of violence in which neither can win. Both of the No More Heroes games reflects a truth often found in the best Western movies, in which a cowboy hangs up his guns only to find that the violence in his past he has tried to escape has caught up with him. Travis has managed to escape his fate so far, but one day Jeane's vengeance may become truly realised when Travis is killed by walking the path of a killer.