Developer(s) – Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher(s) – Marvellous Entertainment, Ubisoft & Rising Star Games
Designer – Goichi Suda
PEGI – 16
Developed as a social commentary to a certain extent, and tame by Suda51’s standards, though still pretty violent, No More Heroes is a hack and slash semi-open world game, which many critics and fans of the game regarded as being one of the better third party video games on the Wii. Whilst I personally think that’s true, and I did spend a lot of time playing this game at the point, I did have a few issues with it.
Graphics – 8/10
Making use of cel-shaded visuals popularised by many games released on Nintendo’s previous console, the GameCube, No More Heroes takes place in an open world somewhat reminiscent of Vice City called Santa Destroy. Although the setting doesn’t stand out among many other games, the many different characters certainly do, with opponents such as Bad Girl, Destroyman, Holly Summers, and Dr. Peace. In conjunction with the comic book-like art style, the characters are very reminiscent of either classic heroes or classic villains throughout comic book history, but they all have a twisted sense of uniqueness about them.
Gameplay – 7/10
I think the best way to describe this game is what would happen if Grand Theft Auto met God of War. The game thrives on intense, violent and at times context-sensitive combat, with a fair amount of challenging boss fights thrown in for good measure. But at the same time, exploration is encouraged to a degree, with side quests available to players, which they must complete in order to advance to each subsequent stage of the game. I did find it quite satisfying to play through, but for the size of the in-game world, I felt as if more could have been added to fill a lot of dead space.
Controls – 8/10
At this point, the Wii was a relatively new console, and early into its shelf life, so motion controls will have still been a question of trial and error to a certain extent. However, there are a select few fundamentals that this game didn’t get right. The bike riding mechanics, for example, are pretty difficult to get to grips with, and even when the basics of it are mastered, a lot of time will still be spent crashing into cars and walls. Aside from that, the remote and nunchuck can also prove to be unresponsive at times during context-sensitive combat sequences. Otherwise, there are no other issues to address, and basic combat is handled quite well.
Lifespan – 6/10
To complete the game to 100% the first time around, players can generally send about 20 to 25 hours doing it, which whilst not unforgivable, is still a little bit underwhelming for a game of its size and potential. There is replay value to be had since there is an extended ending to unlock after completing the game on hard mode, but that also makes it inaccessible to a certain extent, since now every gamer will be comfortable with taking to playing the game at a higher difficulty in order to unlock something offering no real incentive.
Storyline – 8/10
The story of No More Heroes follows a stereotypical otaku named Travis Touchdown, who for purposes unknown to the gamer for the longest time, is competing within the United Assassin’s Association to become their foremost ranked assassin. The story does unfold into something much more interesting and convoluted than it seems at first glance, I think it’s marred down severely by Travis’ persona, as I think he is one of the most annoying video game protagonists of all time. His persona gradually changes for the better in the second game, but throughout the first installment, I couldn’t help but get a sense of dramatic irony, since it is particularly obvious that Travis is being manipulated to suit somebody else’s needs and the fact that he couldn’t seem to realize it sooner was cringe-worthy in my opinion.
Originality – 7/10
Though there had been a fair few games made in the same vein before this effort, I do have a fair bit of respect for Goichi Suda’s ability to come up with many different and twisted concepts and designs for his video games, and this is no exception. In terms of gameplay, I have criticized a few of his efforts, such as Killer is Dead and Shadows of the Damned, but what they’ve all had in common is that they have had no problem standing out among other video games in terms of visual presentation.
Overall, No more Heroes is indeed definitely one of the better third-party experiences on the Wii despite its faults, and I would recommend it to anyone who may be in the mindset that the console is solely for playing party games. Though the second game would make some drastic improvements, that’s not to discount the first by any stretch of the imagination.