Review by FungTheDestroy
Another bizarre game from Suda51 hits the Wii in a flash of electricity and blood.
No More Heroes is a Wii exclusive brought to us by Suda51 (known as Goichi Suda in real life), the man behind the cult classic game, Killer 7. Killer7 was released for the Gamecube and Playstation 2 in July of 2005. It may not have been critically acclaimed, but it gained a very devoted fan base. It has been praised for its great cel-shaded graphics, unique gameplay, and strange story. No More Heroes is very similar in many ways. Just like Killer7, No More Heroes is a love or hate kind of game. It may not have been reviewed very highly overall, but it clearly has very devoted fans. It also has a very nice cel-shaded look, and has a crazy story. The gameplay may not be as unique, but it is still great to play. I had a blast playing No More Heroes, and think it is one of the best games available for the Wii. It is also one of the most violent, and unique.
No More Heroes has a simple story, about a man. This man, the main protagonist, is Travis Touchdown, an adult Otaku who lives in the motel, "No More Heroes". He enjoys watching anime, and wrestling, and fighting to be the number one assassin in America. Maybe not the last one so much, but he does it anyways. It is, after all, the main plot of the game. While drinking one night, Travis meets the mysterious Sylvia Christel, who asks for a favour from Travis. She asks him to kill a man. After killing him, Travis discovers that he was the eleventh ranked assassin in the United Assassin's Association. Travis now holds this title. This is where the game begins.
Travis Touchdown is now on a quest to become the number one assassin of America. He begins at the low rank eleven, and fights the assassins in order from rank ten to rank one. He does not go straight for number one because each of his matches are set up by Sylvia. Also, the game would be far too short if we went straight for number one. Each of the ranked assassin are just as crazy, unique, and awesome as the last. They each bring their own style of fighting to the battle, so no two battle are every quite the same. This wacky cast of characters is one of the main highlights of the game. There are very few games that have characters as weird as these assassins. I would try to give an example, but these characters just have to be seen to understand.
As mentioned before, the story is simple. It is just Travis trying to be number one. So don't expect anything too big. Even though there isn't a very complex story, the cut scenes are still very good, and very fun to watch. Before and after each ranked battle, and scattered throughout the game, we are treated to cut scenes. Some have some significance to the story and characters, and some are just there for kicks. The ones before the battle serve as an introduction to the assassin. They set the stage for the battle that is about to occur, and can even give some hints for the fight. These cut scenes are fairly over-the-top, either in the way the characters act, or the action that goes on. Even if someone didn't care about the story at all, they would still watch the cut scenes because of just how great and entertaining they are. The game is about 11-17 hours, depending on if you go after all the extra things.
The first thing I want to throw out there about the gameplay of No More Heroes is the excellent use of the Wii remote. Definitely one of the best uses for the controller so far. It uses the Wii remote in the way that I prefer; not very often. Instead of using the Wii remote to do the beam katana slashing, like some people would want, this game uses the A button for standard attacks. While attacking, the Wiimote can be tilted up to go from a high stance to a low stance, but this did not seem to affect the gameplay much, except for changing the look of his combo. Just mashing A will take care of all of most enemies. The main use for the Wii remote's motion sensing is after the normal enemy's health has been depleted. A direction appears on screen, and the remote must be flicked in this direction. When said action has been done, Travis performs a devastating finisher on his foes. He does one of two things. Cut the enemy clean in half, or decapitate them. In both cases, a shower of blood that sprays from the dead body (unless you have the Japanese or European versions of the game). It's so over-the-top, that it's not gross in any way, and is actually very amusing.
The game is not all about hacking and slashing. When an enemy blocks, the player can perform a block breaker move. When the enemy is in the dizzy state after the block breaker, Travis can grab him. Two arrows will then appear on screen, indicating which direction to flick both the Wii remote, and the nunchuck. This performs a wrestling move, which does massive damage. The controls are a little iffy to figure out, mostly because of the nunchuck. It takes some practice, and trial and error, to find out which movements work right. The only movement I had any trouble with was moving the nunchuck up. It only registered a certain kind of movement. Once I figured that out, I could perform the move perfectly every time, and the flow of the game was never interrupted.
The regular enemies of the game can be taken down easily with just some simple button mashing. The fighting can be as complicated as the player wants to make it. Just press A all the time, or mix it up a bit; do high or low combos, and do more wrestling moves. The main body of each level composes of Travis just going through the area, killing regular enemies. For each level, they have a different look, but in the level itself, all the enemies look the same. Once Travis plows through everyone, he gets to the end of the level, and this is where the boss battle happens. The levels may be linear, but that just keeps the action flowing at a good pace. No need for Travis to look for where to go next.
The boss battles are definitely the highlight of the game. Unlike the regular enemies, these bosses cannot be taken down by simply spamming your slash. They will attack, and do a lot of damage. Each boss has attack patterns, which need to be watched to look for an opening to attack. All of the boss battles are very well designed, and very fun. Each crazy and unique assassin has their own fighting style, making each fight different. Some use only close up combat, while others use ranged attacks, such as lasers. These intense battles will always keep the player on their toes. After each battle, Travis gets a health upgrade, a lot of money, and is then sent back to the city.
Travis lives in the fictional city of Santa Destroy, California. It is a large city, and Travis can go anywhere, but don't mistake it for a typical sandbox city, such as in Grand Theft Auto IV and Saints Row. No, this is more like the Castle in Super Mario 64. It is just for getting around from level to level. There are also some stores where you can spend your hard earned money. You can buy weapon upgrades, wrestling videos (Travis watches them to learn new wrestling moves), pay for training at a gym to make Travis stronger, or just buy some clothes. Also, throughout the city are dumpsters (containing new shirts or money), and hidden "Lovikov Balls". These are traded to Randall Lovikov himself, to teach Travis special skills, such as the ability to run while in the city (a skill everyone should get first, as Travis jogs at a very slow pace). Running is not the way that Travis gets around, though. Travis has a sweet motorcycle to ride around. The bike controls a bit loosely, but it certainly is better than walking around town.
Just like everyone else, Travis needs to make money. In his case, he needs to pay very high amounts of cash for his next ranked match. Travis makes money in a few ways. The first and easiest way is by just killing enemies during the regular levels. After the first level, Travis takes on some odd jobs. These are mini games that use the Wiimote in very different ways to do jobs such as mowing a lawn, or washing graffiti off of walls. They are short, pretty fun, but don't pay very much. Some are also tedious, and boring, just like some real life jobs (see what they did there?). Travis can get these jobs at the Job Center building. After the first odd job, Travis is introduced to the K-Entertainment building. Here Travis can take assassination missions. These are just "kill everyone" missions, each taking place in a different location. They pay a lot better than the odd jobs. Once Travis makes enough money for the next ranked fight, he deposits it to the ATM, and the info for the next match is faxed to his motel room.
Some people think that the game can get repetitive. I did not find that to be a problem at all, until near the very end of the game. Near the end I had to do the same high paying assassination missions over and over to earn money for the expensive weapon upgrades, and the next ranked battle. The rest of the game flows very well. Moving on from one area full of enemies to the next. Playing the game by just mashing A will get boring. Mix it up! Perform wrestling moves! Even just tilting the Wiimote up, or down, will change the look of Travis' combo, making it more fun to watch.
The very first thing you will notice about No More Heroes is not the intense fighting, or even the odd characters. No, the very first thing you will notice are the graphics. The game is cel-shaded, and has a really stylized art direction. It looks like a comic book, which is appropriate given the extreme nature of the game. It is very unique, and looks great. This look really makes the game stand out from other action titles. From the sunny streets of Santa Destroy, to the arenas of the ranked battles; all of the environments have a great look to them, with small details everywhere. The characters also have great design, carrying the same punk stylized look as everything else. None of the main characters are dull, or generic. They all look just as cool, or crazy, as they act. Oh, but the game is not all cel-shaded. The menus and the game interface all have a very cool pixelated old school look. Travis' health bar is a heart made of pixels. Each time he gets hit, a pixel loses its colour, becoming dull red instead of bright red. This game is loaded with style, and I love every bit of it.
There are still some problems, though. While riding through the city, you will notice pop-in of trees, and building shadows. Not to mention that buildings are rather dull looking. They are all just squares. They could have worked on making the city better looking. There are also some frame rate issues but mostly only when there are lots of enemies on screen. I noticed significant slowdown when multiple enemies were killed at once, and blood sprayed everywhere. This only happened a few times, though, and near the end of the game, during the most crowded assassination mission. These issues are not very big, and don't detract from the game at all. It is still very fun to play.
Upon watching the first scene, you will hear that the voice acting is very good. Each character's voice matches them very well; especially Travis' who's voice is the most important. Each actor really brings the character to life, making them each seem like a real person. They all deliver their lines expertly, even the very cheesy ones. The dialogue is also very well written. This really elevates the quality of the scenes. They all have cool action, and really good acting.
No More Heroes' music is some of the best I've heard in recent Wii games. The music is very cool and catchy, and matches the game's punk style. From cool bass riffs, to funky techno beats, and most things in between. There are some really nice little tunes that play during regular levels, and also some really intense songs that set the mood of the boss battles perfectly. No More Heroes always has great music playing in the background. Also, when talking about sound, we can't leave out the sound effects. The humming of the beam katana, the grunts of attacking men, and then the hilarious scream exclaimed by the dying foes. The bleeps and bloops of the pixelated menus. It all adds to the already great experience.
No More Heroes is an amazing game. At least, for those that can get into it. Even though most of the things I have said about the game were very positive, some people may think of those same aspects as negative. The hack and slash action that some might feel repetitive. The over-the-top, and somewhat corny story and characters. The empty city that just serves as a means to get around. These are all things to consider when thinking about getting the game. That aside, No More Heroes is still one of the best games on the Wii. Even with the Wii's limited power it still has very good graphics with its unique, comic book punk style. It also has the best controls for an action game on the Wii. The story may not be that great, but the characters and their acting are. Any Wii owner who really loves games and thinks they can handle the odd and crazy style, should buy No More Heroes as soon as possible. It's an experience that cannot be missed.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)
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