Review by Archmonk Iga

Reviewed: 01/14/09

The fact that you poop to save about sums it up.

So I haven’t written a review in awhile. I guess you can blame this game called “No More Heroes.” And Michael Stipe. Blame him too, just because you can. But seriously, a couple months ago, I bought a used copy of “Medal of Honor,” since I was interested in trying the Wii’s online performance (which is nonexistent in SSBB, my only “online” Wii game). Unbeknownst to me, all the MoH fans were tucking the little game away to prepare for the new (and expensive... at least for me) Call of Duty game. Just my luck, huh? Thankfully, I kept the receipt and exchanged it for a used copy of No More Heroes, which was the same price. I made an excellent decision, needless to say. It didn’t take long before I was fully absorbed in this quirky game, with all its unique gameplay mechanics and of course its enormous amount of comedy.

You will follow your experience through the eyes of Travis Touchdown. Nice name, huh? This goofball is our beam katana-wielding (and wrestler) protagonist, and he’s got one mission: become the number one assassin. Currently he is number 11, which is pretty good right? But he’s SO close that he just needs to get all the way to the top. Shouldn’t be too bad, should it?

So how does he go about doing this? His lucky day comes when he meets the mysterious and sultry Sylvia Christel, who works for the United Assassins Association. She will guide him through each ranked assassin until he becomes number one. Of all the hilarities that we see in NMH, the best of the best occur between Travis and Sylvia. I mean, she promises Travis she’ll let him “do her” if he makes it to number one, and in the meantime has him rub oil all over her body. Thankfully, they will converse the most out of all the characters, so you can bet on lots of laughs when playing this game.

And that’s the story. Kill a bunch of people until you’re number one. You don’t like it? Why? You can’t say it’s cliche, because I’ve never seen a story like that before. Just because it’s such a basic premise doesn’t mean it won’t work—it does work, and very well. Additionally, how often do you see a game’s plot revolve around the main character killing a bunch of people in order to be the best killer out of all of them? I can’t say I ever have. Simple, funny and original. What’s not to like?
STORY: 9.5/10

Just looking at the cover art, it’s easy to tell that the graphics in NMH aren’t typical. In a way, they are cel-shaded, but it’s also kicked up a notch for the Wii. Travis and the rest of the characters are given great detail (Travis can also change his outfits, which is pretty cool, if nothing else). This detail is fantastic because every single character has such a colorful personality to go along with their looks.

Unfortunately, the environments are a bit of a let-down. They all have their little surprises here and there (like advertisements on walls, or whatever), but for the most part they are bland and without personality. Santa Destroy (the setting) has a dark reputation, but you look at it and don’t really see anything that bad. It’s just a city with buildings and people and roads… add some characterization to the place, for cryin’ out loud! Additionally, many of your missions take you to locations that equally are lacking—baseball diamonds, subway stations, etc… they all could have been given a little more attention to really draw us in.

One of the most important features of NMH is in the action. There’s a lot of action, and very little slowdown, which is great. And the blood… is glorious (and abundant).

The music in NMH is, for the most part, very good. The rockabilly tune we hear when Travis rides his chopper around town never gets old, and I even kind of liked the J-pop playing in the stores I visited. The worst song was the repetitive electronica of the missions—every single mission had this same song playing, and it had basically one melody that would repeat over and over again. The song itself isn’t bad at all, but when you hear it that much, it gets very annoying (and stuck in your head for hours).

The voice acting is perfect. Travis and Sylvia couldn’t sound better, along with pretty much everyone else in the game. I especially loved Thunder Ryu’s exclamation of “oh, you want THAT.” If there was one problem, it was with the enemies you’d face, who would repeat the same few lines over and over again (like “there he is!” or “No! I’m still a virgin!”).

The sound effects were also great. Most notable is Travis’s lightsaber-ish hum that we would hear whenever he wielded the beam katana, but there are many other great sound effects throughout the game as well.
SOUNDS: 8/10

At first glance, NMH looks like a Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto. Well, I guess it sort of is, but it’s definitely got more of an artsy twist and requires faster reflexes. Not to mention it uses the unique Wii controller as an important part of its gameplay. Okay, it’s actually not at all like GTA.

First and foremost is Travis’s weapon, the beam katana. Using A to slash, you can also wield it in high and low positions, depending on how you hold the remote. These positions are important depending on your enemies, so you’ll always be adjusting how you hold the remote, which is pretty clever.

NMH is by no means a button masher. Sure, you’ll be pressing A a whole lot, but in order to actually kill the enemy you’ll be prompted to swing the remote in a direction depicted on the screen (up, down, left, or right). Depending on which way you have to slash determines how Travis swings his katana—at times, one simple slash can take out (seriously) ten or more enemies. It’s a beautiful thing when Travis goes all slow-mo and yells “piece of cake!” before swiftly slashing everyone onscreens’ heads off, with bright red cartoon blood covering the entire screen.

Which brings me to the topic of NMH’s AI—it’s awful. But I’m pretty sure that’s intentional, because we really get swamped with dozens of enemies onscreen at once. Think about it—smart enemies attacking you left and right isn’t nearly as fun as dumb ones who you can sweep through like cake. It gives you this sense of such power, and adds a lot more to the personality of the game.

In addition to using a katana, Travis can also use his wrestling moves to take people out. Though you may sometimes forget about them, there are often situations where you’ll realize that doing these moves would be a better strategy than using the katana. Plus they’ve all got fun animations.

When you’re on an assassin mission, you’ll be going through this a lot—and it never gets old. But I must say that nothing compares to the incredible boss fights that you’ll participate in. Not one of them is a disappointment (well, actually, MAYBE one of them is… won't give anything away). Each boss requires a different strategy, and even when you get that down, it’s still tough to conquer him/her.

When not doing a mission, you are either doing some oddjob, hanging out in your motel room (yes, Travis lives in a motel room), or cruising around town. The jobs can be a fun and easy way to get some money, but a couple of them are pretty lame. When you’re in your room, there are a few things you can do: save, change your outfit, watch TV, eat, and play with your kitty are some of them. Eating from the fridge is pointless, since your health is always full anyway, but watching TV can teach you something if you purchased a new wrestling video. Playing with the cat doesn’t do anything other then grant you a few “awws,” while changing your outfit only gives you something to make Travis look different. Really, the main function of the motel is to save your progress and to initiate the next assassin mission. Everything else, other than the occasional weapon-swap and video, is unimportant.

When you’re riding around Santa Destroy, there is plenty to do, despite the city’s somewhat underwhelming atmosphere. You can shop, train with Thunder Ryu, get new missions and jobs, and search around town for hidden items. I really encourage you to take full advantage of everything the city has to offer, because it all adds up to make Travis much more powerful.

If you can’t tell yet, the most fun you’ll get out of NMH is in its combat, which takes up the biggest portion of the game. There is no tedium whatsoever during your playtime, and almost everything you’ll be doing—whether it’s fighting an assassin or refilling gas tanks—will keep you coming back for more. I honestly love every minute I play of this game, and I think its utilization of the Wii controller is executed perfectly. There is much more to the game – and especially the combat – than I can say in a review. Get the damn game for yourself and see what you’re missing!

Travis’s journey isn’t an easy one, so you’ll probably be putting in at least 20 hours for your first playthrough. In addition to all the required stuff, you can partake in optional, one-hit kill missions (which are pretty tough), as well as repeat any non-assassin missions as you want. There are also a bunch of collectibles, if you’re into that, plus three difficulty settings. Once you beat easy mode, you’ll probably want to move onto hard mode. And what about the basic fact that the game is just plain fun? That should be enough to keep you coming back, too. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten so engrossed in a single-player game like this, and I’m very thankful to the creators for making such a distinctive single-player action game.

It’s artistic, it’s hilarious, it’s stylish, and it’s fun. You may think that it’s not for everyone, but if you’re anything above being a casual gamer, then I know you’ll enjoy this title. Buy this game quick, so you’ll still have time to fully absorb everything it has to offer before its sequel comes out. Go! Now!
OVERALL: 9.0/10

Thanks for reading =)

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)

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