No More Heroes is quite the interesting game, I'll give it that right from the start. It isn't afraid to be weird. It isn't afraid to step over boundaries. I'm pretty sure if this game was a person, it wouldn't be afraid to take a dump on your bed and then french your mother. No More Heroes is absolutely absurd on every possible level, and it was worth playing if only for that.
If you didn't already know coming into this review, No More Heroes is a Wii game from the mind of Goichi Suda. If you are at all familiar with some of his other titles such as Lollipop Chainsaw more recently, or Killer 7 for the Gamecube then you probably already have an opinion of this game regardless of having played it or not. You either think every game Goichi creates is artistic genius, or you think every game he makes is an archaic pile of digital crap. Even as a fan of Goichi's style, my opinion on this one still falls just right of center.
the gentlemen you see above is none other than Travis Touchdown, the game's protagonist. I'm not sure why I called him a gentlemen just then, because he is everything but. Mr.Touchdown is a porno loving pro wrestling enthusiast otaku...cat lover...assassin...this is getting ridiculous already. Anyway, Travis killed Heltker Skelter,the rank 11 assassin before the game's beginning. Why did he kill him? well, it wasn't because he was an assassin at the time. Travis is one step up from homeless, living in a hotel room. after winning a "beam katana" on an internet auction, he realizes he is out of money with which to purchase anime and pro wrestling memorabilia - quite the predicament for an enthusiast of his level. By chance, he meets the mysterious Sylvia Christel who pays him to take on Helter Skelter. after this fated battle, Sylvia suggests that Travis attempt to take out the top 10 assassins, and become number 1 taunting that the money is well worth his while. Apparently this alone isn't enough for Travis as he retorts "If I do it, will ya sleep with me?!"
So to recap, Travis is a broke otaku who is killing people for money...and to get Sylvia in the sack. The game is incredibly raunchy, as you can see and isn't afraid of throwing innuendos around. Nor is it afraid of violence. as you may have noticed looking at the pretty pictures, No More Heroes is cel shaded. Add in showers of blood from decapitated enemies, and it's a thing of beauty. That problem sounds a little twisted, but yo have to see the game in action to truly appreciate the visuals. Even though the deaths are incredibly gruesome, none of them ever really bother you. To summarize, you never really say "ew" but you'll be saying "oooh" quite a bit. I know, I know - it sounds really sick, but honestly even the blood is just pretty, like liquid fireworks. Still, I feel the graphics hold the game back. as stylistic as it is, a more realistic and gritty atmosphere could have made No More heroes a little less immature, and a little more adult.
The gameplay is bittersweet in No More Heroes. The actual combat is fluid, frantic and fun but it always wears thin at some points. The bulk of the game is spent slaughtering hundreds of nameless random nobodies as you progress through the 10 levels. The real fun begins when you o up against the bosses, most of which are quite fun and inventive. On top of this, the bosses are also all extremely interesting and unique characters. Even more of a drag than the lengthy grunt fighting is the time spent between the levels. In order to fight the next rank, Travis must pay a cover fee, and to get the money for that fee you will most likely have to pick up very annoying and trivial odd jobs. Aside from this, there are also many shops you can visit in Santa Destroy, the fictional city in which the game takes place. Along with this, there are a couple of collectible to look for. The problem with this is that Santa Destroy is extremely bland, boring, and monotonous to traverse, even on Travis' bike. Pretty much the only thing that keeps you trudging through these segments in the promise of more frantic combat and another amazing boss battle.
The actual controls are decent, but not perfect. Motion control is kept to a minimum, but waggle still rears its ugly head. For the most part, you just use buttons. To play the game, a nunchuk and wiimote are required. Travis is moved with the controls tick, of course, and enemies can be locked onto with the Z button. the B button controls kicking, which can cause enemies to lose balance, which can in turn allow you to use pro wrestling moves on them. The A button executed your attacks, and your stance changed depending on how the remote is held. If held pointing upward, you are in "high" stance, and if held lower, you are in "low stance" What stance Travis assumes changes his attack type - high attacks are more focused, while low attacks are more wide spread but do less damage. When attacking an enemy that is about to die, the game will enter super slow mo, and and 8-bit arrow will appear. Swing the wiimote in that direction causing a powerful attack that will chops one or more enemies into tiny pieces, and deal massive amounts of damage to surrounding enemies as well. In addition, your beam katana has a battery that is drained with each swing. Once depleted, you must violently shake the remote (your katana) in order to reactivate the battery. Without battery power, you can neither attack nor defend. Defending changes depending on what difficulty you play, but no matter the difficulty each successful block depletes some energy from your battery. I really don't like the waggle, and I wish that you could just sue the classic controller ( a feature included in the sequel), but unfortunately there is only a single play option.
The game's music is extremely forgettable and there isn't much to say about it. The sound effects, however, are quite nice. From the light saber effect of the beam katana, to the squishy sound of carving through enemies, everything sounds like you would expect it to. Where the sound really shines, however, is the voice acting. I don't know where they found such talented actors, but these guys are welcome in any video game I'm playing! While some of the actual writing is extremely corny, purposefully it seems, the actors do a great job with it. Most of the main characters have a very distinct accent or personality, and it's great to see them come alive like that.
No More Heroes is a very distinctive flavor, and a unique experience. From the absurd dialogue and story, to the cultural references to everything from Star Wars to Darkstar Skateboards it is distinctly the work of Suda. It's main problems are the broken up gameplay segments, and the wii's graphical limitations. When No More Heroes is at its best, it is truly amazing, and when it is at is worst, it is truly abysmal. The game is both overrated and underrated at the same time. While it is a very overlooked and forgotten Wii game by most, the games fans talk it up as if it some kind of holy grail in the wii's library, but it just isn't that perfect. It's available now for about $10, so if you run into and you're looking for a new Wii game, or something to pass some time while you think about your next Wii U purchase, NMH is worth your time, and is an experience you won't forget easily. I think the main reason it was so overly praised by its fans ha to do with the fact that it was one of few M rated titles on the Wii at the time or release, and one of the only ones worth playing. Again, I'm not calling the game bad - people just seem to forget about its flaws when recommending it to others. So, if you've got a spare $10 next time you're browsing the game shop, drop a deuce with Travis - you might be glad you did...and I can't believe I just said that, either.