Review by Marcus444
"A blazing parody on Otaku culture that's heavy on style but light in substance."
When a game is directed by Goichi Suda you can expect several things; absurdity, parody, pizazz, etc. Unfortunately, you can also expect tedious gameplay elements, poor level design, and short length. No More Heroes, one of the Wii's few titles that isn't a collection of minigames, isn't made by nintendo, and isn't based on a previous franchise is steeped in these in these problems but the good generally outweighs the bad and your result is an above average game on a system that could use a few more original 3rd party games.
The game takes place in the fictional California town of Santa Destroy and story starts out breaking most videogame conventions. You don't get a long, drawn out intro complete with opening credits. There's a voice over from Travis Touchdown, the game's main lead, who sums up the entire plot as I want to become the number one assassin in the world so I can sleep with this hot secret agent. The game doesn't deride from that concept at all and your mission is to kill 10 of the world's greatest assassin's to reach number one.
What may seem like a harebrained, exposition ridden storyline quickly becomes an almost western style drama of broken dreams, greed, misleading information, and what one man can do if he has the will to do it. Each assassin has their own sob story and while their only exist on screen for a few minutes you, as a player, take sympathy for them thanks to the fantastic writing the game employs. There aren't cinemas or storyline galore but what is there is appreciated.
With that said, the graphics are simplistic yet oozing with, dare I say the word, style. The cel-shading is used expertly to give the world a manga-like, animated style. While character are moderately detailed and the city of Santa Destroy itself is nicely modeled, the game suffers from terrible map design. Essentially, the game's levels were designed solely for the purpose of sticking badguys in them and they are completely uninteresting to look at with their narrow corridors and same same layout. The enemies in general, while they change appearance in the game, are all cookie cutter versions of themselves. You get one model depending o your current level and they all attack you with fists, sword, or a single ranged weapon. There's no inbetween.
Travis controls like any other 3rd person action game. He responds tightly to your button inputs but the camera is rather shoddy and a pain in tight corners. The object of the game is to collect money to participate in the next assassin mission. You can take part in generic mini-games such as coconut collecting, mowing grass, and scrubbing graffiti off of walls as well as boring combat missions that involve killing target or don't get hit. You can ride around Santa Destroy on your motorbike but the thing controls like a rock-with-wheels and Travis can be knocked off by a 5mph collision with a trash can.
The combat itself involves pressing A to hit things with your Lightsaber... excuse me, Beam Katana, until they die. You can change sword stances by moving the wiimote up and down which allows you to break through enemy guard and use different charge attacks. The diagonal pad lets you do a dodge role and when timed correctly you can do a slow motion dodge but enemies attack with such blinding speed that this is usually a matter of luck You can press B to stun an enemy which allows you to perform a wrestling move; very few of which outright kill an enemy and just leave them prone and open for a finishing blow. More annoying of all is your beam saber's energy meter. Run out of energy and you have to jog to a safe corner and charge it up in a sexually ambiguous fashion. Every time you perform a deathblow, a little slot machine may give you special powers which add temporary but interesting effects like a fireball that shoots from your sword or the ability to target an enemy, press a button, and instant kill them. The combat would be more interesting if enemies had other archetypes than the previously discussed Guy With Sword but this isn't the case.
On a positive note, the music and sound effects are fantastic. The game has a very retro feel with the pixelated menu screens and the chiptune sound effects which add a whole lot to the overall Otaku retro atmosphere. Travis himself is a huge anime and music fan and his outrageous style often points in this direction right down to him hugging a poster and saying Moe. The music is a mix of heavy metal, jazzy rock, and hip top tunes which fit their role well as background music. The songs are never overpowering and I never had the feeling to reach for the remote to turn the volume down. For those of you who (are smart) and turn off the Wiimotes annoying speakers, I recommend turning them on for this game as you sometimes get cell phone calls that can only be heard through the wiimote. It's a pointless feature, but adds to the overall immersion of the game itself.
Overall, No More Heroes is a generic action game but the wacky style and musings of Suda ooze through the game and add to the overall package. What you're paying for is a good, uproarious laugh that pokes fun at internet culture and today's anime obsessed youth. Travis Touchdown is a contemporary pop-culture hero, a literal personification of moder day fads, and most gamers can instantly connect with him on some level.
Value (Is it worth the price): 7/10
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/08
Game Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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