Review by gluestick_
Vulgar, Stupid, Insane; NMH is the best game on the Wii
NMH is a hard game to review. Cult-favorite Suda 51 set out to make a game that defies expectations, and for the most part, he succeeds, but not in the way you'd expect (he's doing it already!). Gameplay is for the most part, your standard beat(slice)-em-up with a few nice Wii-tweaks here and there plus alot of fantastic boss fights. It's nothing new. Where the game defies expectations, however, is in it's style, providing a memorably mind-warping expierence you're likely never to forget.
Like it says in my title, NMH trades more in the immature and surreal than your average game. Men are cut in half, spewing geysers of blood and coins. Bosses talk about the lovely dinner they just ate before a fight. Nipple-guns, crotch-lasters, leg-rockets are par the course. A buxom French girl (with the standard Sexy French Accent) teases you mercilessly throughout the game. There's also an apparent love of various pop culture detritus, ranging from Jackass, Star Wars, 8-bit gaming, punk rock and SoCal culture, to the films of Alejandro Jodorwosky and Takeshi Miike. It's all lovingly over-the-top and fun, providing a game free of the usual pretension that bogs down so many modern action games.
The gameplay, by contrast, is fairly simple, but alot of fun and amazingly long-lasting. Swinging your beam katana is done with the A button, while various Finishing and Wrestling moves are done with Wii-mote movements. You can block, roll and dodge, as well. The fights are satisfying with just the right amount of balance in the difficulty. It's never too easy or too hard. In another fun twist on the beat-em-up gameplay, you are forced to do mundane side jobs in order to pay entrance fees to rank up. The game teases you with these jobs in just the right way, providing a welcome break from all the violence and mayhem while still being funny and entertaining. There are various other things in the game, leveling up your character with training mini-games, watching videos and newer katanas. Also, you can play with your cat. How many action games can say that?
There are some flaws that might detract from the expierence for some. The hub world is poorly rendered and has alot of problems with texture pop-in. It also might frustrate people who expect a GTA-level of freedom, since it is based in a city. The mission structure is a bit unwieldy, in that there is no retry option when you fail, forcing you to drive across town to get the mission, then drive all the way back to start again. The story might also be frustrating to those more used to a coherent and serious tone. All in all, these flaws can be overlooked and do not really bring the game down too much.
In the end, No More Heroes is still hard to describe. There are little details, both in the gameplay and style, that more flesh out the expierence as you go on, and so the game must be played to be fully understood. It's not the ultra-polished game you're used to, but than it doesn't try to be. To put it in a way Suda 51 would agree with; if Mario Galaxy is The Beatles, and Smash Bros is Led Zeppelin, then No More Heroes is The Stooges; the height of vulgar, stupid and insane rock and roll.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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