No More Heroes review
The Wii's Best Action Game
Hello, welcome to my review of No More Heroes, an M rated action game for the Wii. No More Heroes is a game developed by Grasshopper and designed by Goichi Suda, also known as Suda51. In this review, I will talk about the game's presentation, which includes the games graphics and sound, story, gameplay and replayability factor. Each area will be graded out of five, the score measuring the quality of each aspect. The final score will not be an average score of the sections mentioned above; the final score is only there to gauge the strength of the recommendation, not measure the overall quality of the title.
Will this title be slaughtered, or praised by my judgment? We'll find out. Here begins the start of my review, the story section. So you with the mouse in your hand; scroll down, and let the bloodshed begin!
No More Heroes has an interesting yet simple story. The story often takes a backseat to the gameplay, so it needs a simple plot to work. You see, this game would be terribly confusing if it had a more complex plot. You wouldn't know what in the world is going on, because the story is often cut up into pieces with many breaks of gameplay in between. Think of a multiple course meal; if each meal is too big, you will become more bloated, and it would be harder to chew through the next one, and if that one is too big, it will cause problems in finishing the next one. This is like the players mind, being bombarded with pieces of the story. Too much at one point, and you may have too much to remember during the long breaks of gameplay. Forgetting parts, or even smaller pieces of the story makes things harder to put together, making for a cluttered and confusing plot. No More Heroes needs its plot to be simple, so us players can remember, and piece things together with ease.
No More Heroes takes place in the city of Santa Destroy, California. The story follows a badass, foulmouthed otaku who goes by the name of Travis Touchdown; who begins his quest for number one, just wanting to get laid by Sylvia Christel, a smokin' hot chick he met at the bar last night. Sylvia does not do him, but she does give him a chance to straighten up his life. She'd give him enough money to support his luxuries and living conditions if he could assassinate "The Drifter". Travis accepts the proposal, and readies his auction won beam katana for battle. Ready for blood, he heads out into the night waiting for his man to show up. And *ta-da!* there he was, this cat, well dressed and cool; he couldn't tell if he was the **** or just plain old ****. Yeah, so he's stylin', fast, aggressive and packin' heat. Ba-da-bing! Travis had successfully decapitated his foe, therefore completing the mission. Travis returns to Sylvia for the rewards, but what?! She doesn't give it to him. She says that if he could go from number eleven to number one, she would give him what he wanted. That ***** set him up, but there's nothing he could do about. He'd have to kill or be killed.
So in short, Travis must become the number one assassin in order to get his second chance at life. Sounds simple? Well it is, but it goes a little deeper than that. Inside is a story of revenge and secret ambitions; it has many twists, and can make you laugh at times. All in all; No More Heroes has a fantastic story, with a unique ability to switch between funny and serious, thanks to it's blood thirsty and goofy otaku protagonist. The story will almost certainly suck you in.
No More Heroes is an ugly duckling dolled up with layers of cool and vibrant clothing. This game is no technical marvel; it looks like a PS2 game, heck, it looks even worse than most PS2 games. The textures are poor, the buildings are rectangles with painted windows and doors, and the character models, while decent, lack detail. But you know what? This is just fine; Suda gave the No More Heroes crew an awesome paint job. The characters look great with their shadowing, skins and animations. This gives NMH some personality, and somehow the style of the characters fit well with the dull looking world he has created. This idea gives focus to the characters and enemies, highlighting their epic, frantic battles in the uninspired, ugly world. These battles are very impressive, with each kill rewarding you with coins and a fountain of blood. Special attacks should be noted too; they change the colors onscreen to something that may suit the scene a little better. Powerful black and gray, fiery red, that kind of stuff. The menus are primitive looking, but are clear and easy to follow. Suda uses 8 bit circles and meters to gauge your character's health, battery charge levels and strength in the menu.
Graphics - 4/5
The songs in No More Heroes are pretty dang catchy; there's some J-pop in the stores, some energetic techno to prep you up for battles, and some mysterious, heavy tunes that appropriately foreshadow the theme of death. The songs vary enough so you'll rarely find them repetitive. The sound effects and voice acting are just as sweet. The voice overs are well done, with lines spoken with emotion and the sound effects work well with the beam katanas; the buzzing, swishing and swashing sound great. The guns sound great too, albeit a little weak sounding.
Sound - 4/5
Overall - 3/5
No More Heroes has a great control scheme. They clearly wanted to cut down on the wiggle and waggle by setting the A button to attack. I know, I know, kind of disappointing; but yeah, it works a lot better than you think. For you wagglers out there, don't fret, there is still some waggling involved in this game. So yeah, let me tell you the battle controls: the A button is to attack with your sword, the Z button is used to lock onto opponents and block, the B button unleashes "beat" attacks, which are guard breaking melee attacks and the B button also initiates grabs, which can turn into high-damaging wrestling moves in conjunction with the Wii Remote. The C-button is used to reset the camera or go into first person, the D-pad moves the camera, the 1 button brings up the map, the analog stick on the Nunchuck is used for movement, + brings up the menu, and - is reserved for special attacks you get by random. Oh ho ho ho, I almost forgot the fan favorite, Mr. Waggle! Moving the Wii remote up will set your fighting stance to high, allowing your attacks to slice through low guards, and bringing your waggle stick down, will trigger a low attack stance. As you may have guessed, this stance cuts through high guards. But wait! That's not all your wiggle wand can do; he can also kill! Once your opponent's HP reaches zero, you must finish him off with an obliterating death slash. Slash in the direction the pixelized arrow says, and you successfully decapitate the fool. Your grabs would be nothing without this bad boy; follow the arrows onscreen to live your wrestling dreams. And one more thing, the Wiimote is also used to charge your beam katana. By pressing 2, the battery charge enabler, you must then move your Wiimote from side to side. Travis does not shake his katana from side to side, instead, he moves it up and down in a very suggestive manner. Once it's charged up, he's ready for battle. This sounds like a lot, but it's easy to get the hang of. You'll be busting baddies in no time. The only problems to be had here is the responsiveness of the Wii Remote. It works 90% of the time, but it messes up 10% of the time.
The control scheme used not in battle is very good too. As Travis, press A to interact with the NPCs and environment, press + to open up the menu, and move Travis and the camera the same way used in the battle system. No waggle is used here until you mount your bike, the Schpeltiger. Press A to mount yourself onto this baddie. On the Schpeltiger, you must waggle to jump, move with the analog stick, move the camera with the D-pad, accelerate with the A button and unleash a speed boost with B. Once you've gotten to your destination, you can dismount by pressing down on the D-pad. This is baby stuff, you'll get used to it in no time.
The Wiimote and Nunchuck combo does not disappoint. It feel great and are responsive. NMH's controls get a five out of five.
This section is vital for the game's end score; will it bring the game to new heights, or take it down a notch?
No More Heroes is very formulaic. The typical flow of the game is:
Mini Games -> Assassination Mission -> Pay at ATM -> "Dungeon" -> Boss Fight -> Story
The formula works decently, but I wish they had removed the need of playing mini-games to get to the assassination missions. But hey, third raters like Travis need to prove their worth before dealing with the devil. But yeah, the mini games are pretty boring. Some require you to cut grass, work at a gas station or collect cans. There's some variety, but that doesn't remove the repetition. Upon finishing a mission, you earn money and access to an assassination mission. Also, you a graded with a medal depending on how well you performed. You are awarded with a gold, silver or bronze medal; gold being the best and bronze being the worst. Assassination missions can be fun at times, especially the ones that involve you to just kill enemies. Enemies will just keep coming and it's your job to cut them down. You get money for each kill, and are graded with a medal just like in the mini-games. Other assassination missions go along the line of: kill the target, kill within the time limit, or kill using only wrestling moves. They're all fun for a while, but they lack variety. The later missions are just rehashes of the first few.
Once you've collected enough dough, you have to go pay at the ATM. You pay for transportation costs and stuff like that. Once you've paid, you'll see a new area pop up on the map. That is the next boss' location. Get on your bike, and head there at once. You deserve this break from the repetitive assassination missions and mini-games. So yeah, get over there and get ready for some fun. On arrival, you will find a few enemies, kill 'em and proceed to the next room. It's as simple as that. The are entertaining ways to dispose of your enemy. You can cut them through the middle, leaving his sides to fall and create torrents of blood, cut their heads off or beat them down in a wrestling death match. You could also use some more complex wrestling moves later in the game, which involve creative use of the beam katana. After a kill, there will be a slot machines-type image on the bottom of the screen; if they line up properly, you will use a special move. There's Dark Side mode, which can causes you to instantly kill enemies by pressing the buttons that pop up on screen; a mode that gives Travis a speed boost and strengthens his weapon; a mode that lets you shoot katana created fire balls at enemies and an attack that just obliterates anything onscreen with a giant explosion. I'm sure I'm missing one or two special attacks, but you should know what I mean by now. It's fun being able to kill without a timer or anything like that in the assassination missions. Sometimes you'll find pink boxes, blue boxes or treasure chests. The pink boxes restore health, the blue recharge your beam katana, and the treasure chests contain trading cards. The trading cards are just for show in the first playthrough; they will find purpose in unlocking art and stuff in the next. Once you've gotten far enough, you'll be greeted with a phone call from Sylvia. She'll give you a few encouraging words and your percentage of failing. Once she's done, continue forward and save in the washroom. Yes, I said washroom. When you're ready proceed to fight the boss. The boss fights in the game are very entertaining. Each boss has a unique personality and different fighting styles; a ninja, a "pretend" superhero and a magician are some of the characters you will encounter. Some bosses are a good challenge, while others are just push-overs. Each boss has a special move that can almost instant kill you; this may feel a little cheap, but it is desirable. Suda wants to keep the player on his feet, he doesn't want you to doze off while you're beating them with tons of health left. If you die, you won't have to start over from your last save. You are given the option to return to Santa Destroy, or retry the boss fight. Just keep trying 'till you win. Upon finishing a boss fight, you will be treated with a story sequence. These story sequences can be skipped if desired; but it is recommended you watch them. The story got a 5 for a reason.
Note: The video contains lots of violence; get the children out of the room, even if it does look very unrealistic.
So now, you must repeat the formula until you beat the game. No need to hurry though, you can relax by spending some cash on some clothes. Doll him up the way you want. This leads me to the use of money in the game; money can be used to buy clothes like I just said, or for exercises and an upgraded beam katana. You work out at your master's place, the Thunder Ryu building, where your master, Thunder Ryu resides. He'll give you a few options to improve your physical status; you can increase your health, increase your attack power or lengthen your combos. Select one, and you will play a mini-game. Some require you to lift weight with your Wiimote, do squashes or mash A to finish the bench presses. These mini-games are very interesting, because they give the player some exercise as well. You can have some fun without money, like exploring the town. Actually, I advise you to explore the town. Not to look at the crappy buildings, but just for the fun of exploration. The rewards for exploration are very well worth it too, you'll find cash, and clothes in dumpsters and find these things called Lolitov balls. These Lolitov balls can be found by following the sound they make; you'll know it once you hear it. Anyway, these things are used to learn new abilities such as dashing and jumping attacks. Find seven balls and bring them to the bar. A drunk guy there with the name of Lolitov will trade the balls for his secret techniques.
This game has some neat ideas, most of them which work. The combat is satisfying, exploration is fun and rewarding, and the boss fights are a treat. The mini-games and assassination missions though, disappoint. The game's gameplay gets a good four out of five.
The main game is short, and can be completed in around 10 hours; but this game can last a lot longer than that. You can collect trading cards, buy all the clothes, try to ace all the missions and play the game from the beginning using the New Game + type function. This option will be unlocked after beating the game once. New Game + lets you start from the beginning of the game with all your possessions intact. Your clothes, trading cards and beam katanas are safe. What's also nice about this is that it allows you to tackle the game at a harder difficulty for those looking for a challenge.
This game has a long pair of legs, allowing for many hours of playtime. The replayability gets a great five out of five.
In conclusion, No More Heroes is good times. It's got style, action and replayability executed perfectly. Those looking for a unique, balls to the wall action game for the Wii will welcome No More Heroes with open arms.
About the author
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