No More Heroes Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Nintendo Wii
Release date:
January 22, 2008
Grashopper Manufacture

No More Heroes

Putting the "touch" in Touchdown.

Review by Patrick Butler (Email)
February 23rd 2008

Interestingly enough, odd games have been making quite a name for themselves in recent years, despite being substantially flawed in some respects. Though not perfect by any means, titles like God Hand and Killer 7 are prime examples of games so unique, so downright bizarre, that the sum of their strengths and faults create an art form that is nothing short of memorable. Regardless of the possible controversies created by homosexuality or split personalities.

No More Heroes falls somewhere between both creations, maintaining both the banality and great simplicity of combat found in God Hand with the visual touch of the cel-shaded masterpiece Killer 7. Known to most as the straightforward lovechild of producer Goichi Suda "51", players assume the role of Travis Touchdown, who seems to be a splitting image of the spikey-haired and Diesel-clothing-toting Johnny Knoxville. After winning a beam saber in an online auction, Travis receives a tip to kill the 11th best ranked assassin to earn some cash. Emerging victorious, the gist of things is as apparent as it seems: climb the ranks to eventually become the best ranked killer amongst the UAA, a secretive organization dealing in the planning of all these mysterious ranked matches.

No More Heroes falls somewhere between both creations, maintaining both the banality and great simplicity of combat found in God Hand with the visual touch of the cel-shaded masterpiece Killer 7.

The beginning of each chapter warps Travis back into his apartment, which is the epitome of the otaku's wet dream. Gashapon (capsule toys), anime figures, classic luchadore tapes and geek gizmos hung across the wall abound litter Travis' pad, without forgetting the mention of his adorable kitty Jeane, whom you pet and care for, if the blood-spilling life of an assassin may seem a little hectic from time to time.

For Travis to fight, he needs to earn some green (or LB's, as the currency would have it here). Touchdown earns his day's labour in some of gaming's most peculiar of jobs in a sandbox world. The Job Center several blocks from the No More Heroes Motel (that's right) where Travis resides at first offers but one or two chores for jobs to earn Travis some pay, though as the player progresses, roughly a dozen tiny missions unlock, each only a few minutes long. Whether it be lawn-mowing or playing pest control throughout the town of Santa Destroy, it gets a little repetitive running in and out of the Center to drag your feet to the same mini-quests over and over as a means for registration to the next fight. Open assassinations, which are more or less sparring practices, are also available, usually awarding a much larger cash sum reward.

Each and every one of the 10 ranked bosses range in some of the most bizarre forms of boss fights ever seen in video games. Throughout Travis' quest, foes range from has-been TV series superheroes utilizing a deserted stage and visual effects for attacks to chicks with pegged legs and a bevy of grenades and seeker missiles to deploy onto a summer beach. And while the foes can be original, the battles really aren't. As funny and charming as No More Heroes may be, it's positive edge slowly loses its acuteness with stale boss battles which take forever to go through only due to high HP and boring boss patterns, as well as the precursor of repetitive henchmen and goon fights which litter the boss' entrance before each coming assassin.

It seems as if for every good convention No More Heroes brings to the table, something else terribly counters it. Each and every menu and portion of the HUD is attractively presented in an 8-bit format. It's incredibly creative and original, which hits a soft spot for all veteran or even common gamers alike. It's immensely pretty, which is even represented to bookmark specific shops, video stores, assassination job offerings and etc throughout the town of Santa Destroy. Though the icons are pretty, the town itself is marred by awful framerate dips and image ghosting, if not already bad by design with a lifeless town of grey vehicles and a handful of citizens walking the streets. Though you could take Santa Destroy as really more of an interactive menu, which makes this problem much less of an issue.

Travis's adventure to the top of assassination mountain peaks at a 10 to 15 hour quest, which, while comparatively short compared to other action games, is not a fatal flaw. It's obvious, yes, but it has a lot of technical problems, it lacks variety and the swearing might throw some people off. Nevertheless, it is a hilarious, stylish and unique experience that will likely get ignored, it is recommended to anyone with a Wii, a sense of humor and obviously someone above the required 17 and over age noted by the ESRB (see: rampant amounts of swearing).

There's a rare occurrence with most games that are so unique that their shortcomings are heavily outweighed by their strong points. No More Heroes could likely be at the Mecca of a root of examples of this, as it's glaring technical problems of framerate issues and repetitious play are heavily overshadowed by the sheer fun you'll have chopping people in half with your beam sword. Travis to the Touchdown ever rarely fails to disappoint, but to witness that for yourselves, you'd have to give him a chance first.

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