Review by Nemesissy
"Stylish, insane, and fun. It's Suda41 after all."
After Killer7, Suda41 decided to make something new for the Wii. Not a direct sequel to Killer7, but something....else. And trust me, he's done a great job.
No More Heroes puts you in the shoes of Travis Touchdown, a young man who runs out of money to buy video games. Desperate for more money, he takes his Beam Katana (definitely a parody of Star Wars' lightsabers) that he won in an online auction and takes up an assassination gig (as you do...) After succeeding, he learns he is ranked 11th, and decides to go for the almighty 1st place.
Travis lives in Santa Destroy in a motel called 'No More Heroes'. In order to start his ranking fights against other assassins, he must earn enough money to pay the ranking fee. To earn this money, you must either complete some other minor assassination gigs, or earn money in part-time jobs which come in the form of minigames. Yep, minigames. As if the Wii didn't have enough. Although it is strangely satisfying to see Travis mowing a lawn...
You can move around Santa Destroy in Travis's strange, futuristic, bike, which can go quite fast. It seems rather out of place when compared to all the other cars in Santa Destroy, but it fits in with the stylish and mad nature of the game. The bike may seem fun at first, but the novelty can wear off, as the bike can be difficult to turn and if you fall off (and you will fall off) it can be annoying having to get back on your bike constantly.
Despite Santa Destroy's large size, there isn't a lot to do. At the start, there's pretty much nothing to do, but as you progress, more things become available. It's nothing compared to the hub's of Grand Theft Auto though. There's a shop to buy more clothes, a warehouse where a scientist called Naomi builds new Beam Katanas for you to buy, the Job Centre, the 'No More Heroes' motel, a building to learn new moves, and some other areas to fight enemies in. That's pretty much it, unfortunately.
After earning enough money for the next fight, you make the payment at an ATM and go to your motel to get instructions from the mysterious and cold Sylvia Christel. She tells you where to go, and then off you go. Before you fight the actual assassin, you must reach him/her by fighting your way through their millions of minions. After you reach the ranked assassin, you begin the big 'boss fight'. After defeating them, you recieve your new rank from Sylvia and go home where you must earn more money for the next ranked battle. It may seem repetitive, and at times it is, but the style of assassin you fight and the way you have to reach them changes to add some variety, and simply slashing your way through the enemies will have you coming back for more.
Your fellow assassins come in different shapes and sizes, from a magician to an old lady with one hell of a powerful cannon to a young schoolgirl (don't worry, she's 18). Wondering what type of assassin you will fight next will keep you interested. Some of them can be average, while some can be fun, and some can be down right outrageous (the old lady with the cannon).
The game has collectibles in the form of Trading Cards and Lornikov Balls. Trading Cards can only be found during the Assassination fights and the balls can be found in Santa Destroy, where you can give them to an old drunk who'll teach you new moves. The Trading Cards don't do anything however.
The game never tries to act realistic. It always tries to be stylish, and it succeeds. From the mad level featuring the old lady with the cannon (yes, her again) to having to race your way through the motorway on your bike and through a forest to find your opponent, Suda41 tries to make it as insane and random as possible. Many will love it, and some will be put off by it, but it's brilliant. To save your game, you go to the toilet. Whenever you unlock something, such as a new part-time job, a retro jingle sounds, with a banner in retro writing appearing telling you what you've unlocked. Your little map in the corner of the screen is pixelated like the older games of yore. Your pause menu is also pixelated like your map, and the ranking table of assassins is just like the high scores table of old arcade games. It's brilliant, and although the pixelated map is annoying, the rest are nice little touches.
Following on from the references from older games, the fighting system is simple button-bashing. Yep, simply press A to slash away at your enemy. You can use the Wii-remote to determine whether you attack high, or low. Slash at an enemy enough, and you'll be prompted to swing your Wii-remote in a certain direction whiich, if done correctly, will cause Travis to swing his Beam Katana powerfully and deliver a final blow which will almost definitely kill them, and if you're lucky, will take a few nearby enemies too. Nice to see something other than just swinging the Wii-remote in a general direction.
You can also use wrestling moves, which can be activated by pressing B. Stunning your enemies can leave them open to a killing wrestling move, although I only use the Beam Katana. Wrestling moves don't go well against enemies with guns, swords, or axes.
Blood. Yep, the blood. Europe and Japan get none of the red stuff, while America gets loads of it. European and Japan players see their enemies dissolve into black clouds, while in America, enemies have their heads chopped off, with blood pouring everywhere. I own a European version, although I've played an American version, and although the blood does nothing in terms of gameplay, it adds to the stylish nature of the game. It's just a shame only America gets it.
Now for the graphics. They seem a little cel-shaded, like Legend of Zelda: WindWaker, but No More Heroes has a darker tone whereas WindWaker had a bright, colourful tone. The framerate can be a bit dodgy, but whether this is part of the style or not is unknown. To activate certain things, such as entering your motel, you must step over a logo and press A. The logos are colourfully pixelated and don't seem too out of place in the cel-shaded world of Santa Destroy.
The cutscenes are well-made and feature great dialogue. Cutscenes late on in the game seem wierd though, although the whole game is a little wierd.
Replay value? After completing the game, you can play it again on a different difficulty setting, and transfer all your Beam Katanas, clothes, health, medals, etc over to your next game. In the new game, the Trading Cards from before are replaced with new trading cards, except this time, they unlock things such as concept art or info about the assassins. not enough to warrant playing through the game again though. You'll only really want to play through the game again just to fight the assassins again.
No More Heroes is a great little game, albeit a little short (I personally completed it in just 10 hours first time round). A rare type of game, and lets hope Suda41 keeps making more of them. A very good 8/10.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 03/24/08
Game Release: No More Heroes (EU, 03/14/08)
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