Review by PrinceMallow
"If I become numer one, will ya do it with me?!"
No More Heroes is the latest masterpiece from Suda 51 of Grasshopper Manufacture. His real claim to fame, state side, at least, was found in the cult classic GameCube title, Killer7, one of the most--if not the most--underrated game of the last generation. It took me a year or so after Killer7's release to actually buy the game and I eventually picked it up for $10 at an EB Games, brand new. My only regret was not buying the game sooner.
After Killer7, I became a fan of Suda 51. Killer7 was different from any game I've ever played and I fell in love with the insane story and crazy characters. So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard Suda was developing a whole new game for the Nintendo Wii.
I've been following No More Heroes ever since it was simply known as Heroes. I remember seeing the teaser trailer on YouTube and instantly wanted to get my hands on the game, despite the horrendous voice acting that was heard in the original trailer. I was sure to keep a close eye on the game, as it was quickly becoming one of my most anticipated Wii titles. When the game was released I bought it the week of off Amazon and let me tell you... if you own a Wii, you need to get this game.
No More Heroes follows the adventures of Travis Touchdown, a geeky otaku who loves all things anime, video games, and porn. After winning a beam katana (a lightsaber) off an internet auction site, Travis finds himself in desperate need of cash so he can buy more anime, video games, and porn. And so he does what anyone would do and takes on an assassination mission! His mission is to assassinate a killer known as Helter Skelter, and Travis kills him off without breaking a sweat. That's when the mysterious and beautiful Sylvia Chrystal shows up and congratulates Travis for becoming the eleventh best ranked assassin by the UAA (United Assassin Association) and convinces Travis to take out the remaining ten killers above him and aim for the top.
This is where the game kicks off and you take Travis on the long and hard road to become the world's greatest assassin. You might be thinking "a story like this sounds interesting and all, but why does it get a 10/10?" Well, that reason would easily be the characters.
Just like Killer7, Suda 51 has created a cast of amazing and memorable characters in the world of No More Heroes. You'll find something to love about all the killers you go up against which include, but are not limited to, a cosplay wearing, laser shooting powerhouse known as Destroyman and a mad scientist, punk rocker known as Letz Shake. The killers are fantastic and all have great personalities. There's also Sylvia Chrystal, your contact who sets up all the missions for you, and it won't take long to fall in love with her either.
And then, of course, there's Travis who I'm already willing to say is the best new character of the year.
The gameplay in the fights of No More Heroes basically boils down to hitting the A button over and over again. While this may sound like a repetitive gameplay experience it never FEELS like a repetitive experience. The battles always seem to be fun no matter what. There will be time when you'll be prompted to swing the Wii remote either up or down to pull off a finishing move on your opponents and doing so always feels satisfying. Travis is also able to perform professional wrestling moves on his enemies, which has you move the Wii remote and nunchuck in a particular fashion to pull the move off. These are always great to do and the motion controls, surprisingly, don't feel tacked on at all and tend to work really well.
However, the gameplay isn't all hacking and slashing. In order to move up on the Top 10 list you're going to need to make money to set up a ranked fight with the next killer. To make this money, you need to take on odd jobs in Travis' home town of Santa Destroy. These jobs range from things like gathering coconuts, pumping gas, and retrieving lost kittens. While these jobs may sound tedious, they really aren't that bad to do. After finishing these side jobs, more jobs will be open up to you but these jobs will be assassination missions, but not the actual ranked fight. In these missions you'll be sent to a specific area to kill off a specific number of baddies to make some cash.
When you're not taking on a job or fighting a ranked assassin, you can check out some of the shops around Santa Destroy and expand Travis' wardrobe with new t-shirts, jackets, jeans, and sunglasses. You can also visit Thunder Ryu's dojo and get some training from the man himself and your mentor, Thunder Ryu. Travis can also visit the lovely and sexy Dr. Naomi and receive upgrades for him beam katana to make it more powerful and deadly. You can also hunt around the city for mysterious items known as "Lovikov Balls" and trade them in with Lovikov, the drunk Russion, to recieve new battle skills.
All these things and more are a great way to keep you occupied, but where the gameplay suffers is the hubworld of Santa Destroy itself. Many have compared Santa Destroy as a GTA-like city, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Santa Destroy is a bland, barren, and boring wasteland. You travel through Santa Destroy using Travis' motorbike, but don't expect to be able to cause a riot should you run over a pedestrian or crash into a car. Nobody will pay any mind to you and basically, the only point of the city, is getting you from point A to point B. For example, when you take on a job or assassination mission, you need to do so at specific buildings in the city and then you need to travel to where your assignment is. Whatever you do, DON'T FAIL THE ASSIGNMENT because if you do you need to travel back to where you got the job in the first place, sign up for it again, and travel back. Thankfully, most of the side missions are easy enough, you shouldn't have to suffer through this too often.
If you're feeling up to it, you can hunt around the city for new t-shirts, money, and Lovikov balls, but it won't take long before the bland looking city of Santa Destroy starts to strain the eyes so you probably won't want to stay there very long.
The graphics of No More Heroes have their ups and their downs. On one hand, this game is highly stylish. The characters look great and the Kill Bill-esque amounts of blood that spurt from your enemies is greatly satisfying to see. There's no denying that this game has style and looks great.
On the other hand? At times the framerate is awful, particularly in the hubworld of Santa Destroy. The framerate becomes highly noticeable when walking through the city streets and just looks, well, sloppy. On top of that, the areas you go too look pretty bland, especially Santa Destroy itself. There are also framerate issues if there's a lot going on at once on the screen.
But, while the game suffers from some framerate problems and the areas don't look as good as they could, the style certainly helps it.
You can imagine my relief when I found out the original voices heard in the first trailer would not be the final voices for the game. And thank goodness, because No More Heroes has a fantastic voice cast. Each character is casted perfectly and I honestly could not imagine them sounding any other way. Travis sounds like how a nerd should sound, Sylvia's French accent is sexy, and each of the assassins you take on also have fantastic voices that suit them perfectly.
The soundtrack is composed by Masafumi Takada, who previously worked on the soundtrack to Killer7, God Hand, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. Takada also contributed to the soundtrack of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Like Takada's previous work, the soundtrack of No More Heroes is amazing, fun, and just plain catchy. You'll have the main theme of the game, which is heard throughout, stuck in your head for weeks to come. There's even a lyrical piece of music that is, in my opinion, one of the greatest video game songs ever made.
I can find nothing wrong with this game's voice cast or soundtrack.
The game offers a total of three different difficulty levels: sweet, mild, and bitter (or easy, medium, and hard). Sweet is pretty challenging on its own and mild makes it harder still. And bitter? Bitter is insane. At first you only have sweet and mild available to you, but after clearing the game once, you unlock the bitter difficulty level.
When you start up a new game, you'll have everything you had in your previous game, such as t-shirts, beam katanas, and cash. This is a great feature and saves you the trouble have to buy everything all over again.
You can also unlock concept art of the game's characters, which are always interesting to see. There's also Travis' wardrobe to expand and all of the beam katana upgrades. The main game itself is only about ten hours long but all these features, not to mention wanting to see the real ending of the game, should keep you entertained for a long time to come.
Rent or Buy?
I'd highly suggest you buy this game. Titles like No More Heroes don't come around often, and niche games like this too often suffer poor sales. If you're still feeling iffy, give the game a rent and see for yourself just how awesome this game is. No More Heroes is a fantastic game that no Wii owner should be without.
+ game is hell of a lot of fun to play
+ performing finishing moves and wrestling moves always feels satisfying
+ fantastic cast of characters, each with great personalities and casted perfectly
+ additional difficulty levels and features entertain for a long time
+ game has amazing style
+ when starting up a new game, you have everything you had in your previous playthrough
- side jobs can, at times, become tedious
- Santa Destroy is the most boring city in the world
- game suffers from framerate issues
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/05/08
Game Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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