By Arik Yates / July 27th, 2013
|Title: No More Heroes
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacturer
Release Date: January 22, 2008
Platforms: Nintendo Wii
Age Rating: ESRB: M
When I remember back to the summer of 2008, Grasshopper Manufacturer/Goichi Suda’s (Suda51) No More Heroes is the first thing that comes to mind. During that fateful summer, there wasn’t a lick of income coming my way, and a dry spell for the Nintendo Wii; the only system I had at my disposal. However, there was one title that had sparked my interest. Promising violent sword-play, a unique art style, and sporting a very relatable main character, No More Heroes had me wriggling in excitement for the day that I would eventually get my hands on the title. Thankfully, my birthday was just right around the corner, and needless to say, No More Heroes was bestowed upon me that day. I rushed to my Wii, shoved the disk in, and got comfortable whilst saying “Goodbye” to the dry spell that had ever so plagued my gaming hobby.
In No More Heroes you play a beam-katana-wielding, otaku assassin by the name of Travis Touchdown who lives in the below average city of Santa Destroy. Travis is your regular male otaku — short on cash, a non-existent love life, wild obsession for Japanese entertainment — that is, until he wins a beam katana from an online auction and meets a mysterious vixen named Sylvia Christel at the bar. During their meeting, Sylvia cons a possibly intoxicated Travis to enter the United Assassins Association (UAA), on a violent and bloody quest to top the 10 best assassins for fame, glory, and Sylvia Christel herself. As zany and over-the-top the premise may sound, Suda51 makes it work excellently, and tops it all off with one of the most bizarre twists I have ever experienced in a game.
Now, there is a kick to achieving maximum enjoyment from this piece of entertainment; don’t take the game too seriously. The humor and themes placed within the game by Mr. Suda are very suggestive, and at points highly immature, albeit hilarious. Some may find it offensive, but Suda51 strives to entertain; if any offense is taken, you’re looking at it in the wrong light. To name a few instances, while in combat, if your sword battery gets depleted, you must shake the Wii-mote in a very provocative manner, and the player saves their game by “relieving themselves” on toilets found throughout the game. Personally, I found it a breath of fresh air to see how brave the developers were when creating No More Heroes, so I don’t see it as a downside. If anything, rejoice that a title of this nature even made it overseas, let alone on the Wii!
Now, if there was ever a worry about the combat and Wii-mote controls used during Travis’ gory path to glory, then you can go ahead and shoo all of those filthy demons away. Just like the story, Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacturer has the gameplay and camera aspects of No More Heroes nailed down to a T. You’ll go about dispatching foes with the Wii remote and Nunchuck combo – with little actual motion involved – and the camera can be controlled at any time by simply using the Wii-mote’s D-pad. If there is ever need to reset the camera angle to its original position, a simple tap of the C-button will do just that.
While in combat, players will slice and dice with Travis by tapping the A-button on the Wii remote, pressing the B-button for punches and kicks to unbalance foes, and hold the Z-button on the Nunchuck to lock-on to foes while blocking their incoming attacks. While also holding Z, pressing left, right, or down on the D-pad will make Travis do an emergency evade roll. Both A and B-button attacks can be held down for a slightly stronger charge attack. Once a regular foe’s health is depleted you’ll be prompted on screen to swing the Wii-mote in a certain direction which leads to a gratuitous amount of blood to spew out of what once was an enemy. After each death, you may notice the appearance of a slot machine in the bottom hemisphere of the screen. It’s all for a chance to enter Dark Side Mode, which gives the player a wide array of super boosts if you get three matching icons. Players can also choose to unbalance enemies with a charged B-button attack instead, allowing the usage of a very satisfying wrestling move by matching the Wii-mote and Nunchuck motion prompts on screen; you initialize the process by hitting B while the enemy is staggered.
For the more technical side of things, there is an option to get a drastic upper hand on your foe, but it requires near perfect timing. When an enemy attack is about to connect, move the Nunchuck’s control stick left or right to circle around their attack, leaving their hind end defenseless and open. Players can also do an evasive roll by holding down Z and pressing left, right, or down on the D-pad. However, circling around is the more effective of the two and is easily the best way to deal massive amounts of damage. Another nice feature is sword clashing. When Travis hits an enemy sword with his beam sword at exactly the same time, sword clashing will be the outcome, and you can continuously shake the Wii-mote to best the enemy before you. The simplicity of the combat works for No More Heroes, and it still holds up well compared to today’s standards.
With that out of the way, the game progresses in a formulaic fashion, but that definitely isn’t a bad thing. Each mission has you penetrating the depths of the bosses hideout and eliminating any resistance that stands between you and the exit. In the instruction manual, this portion is considered a warm up, so the lack of variety in enemies is forgivable. While the levels aren’t very expansive, there are a few nooks and crannies where collectible Wrestling Masks (granting you new, bone crushing wrestling moves) and cards (adding new otaku items to Travis’ apartment) can be scrounged up. Lastly, there is one final room, usually a hallway, that stands between you and a very eccentric boss. While waltzing your way towards the boss chamber, players will be treated by a humorous phone call from Sylvia. They’ll range from exuberant praise to something along the lines of “I’m 100% confident that you will make it out of this fight. In a body bag”. Not very assuring, huh? To much amusement, her faith in your survival slowly dissolves the higher in rank you get.
Anyways, the bosses dwelling at the end of each level take center stage in No More Heroes. You’ll never go up against a brainless meat puppet or re-skinned previous boss; each have their own personality, antics, bumping music, and fighting style. And better yet, they’re all fairly challenging, but never in a way that feels unfair. The fights are a learning process; it’s all about reading your opponent, and finding an opening. Any time I had a couple calculation hiccups, I was easily able to fix my mistakes the next time around. But don’t worry, if the boss gets the better of you, a very generous respawn point will take to the very start of the battle. Shortly after the completion of the boss fight, players are released to roam freely around the dying city of Santa Destroy, where they can interact with various things inside the apartment, or collect LBs – the form of currency used in the city. LBs can be used for the entrance fee to the next assassination mission, or for powerups, weapons, and clothing. While the entrance fee can be pretty pricey, the epic fights with the Assassins are worth every hard earned penny.
There are three main ways to go about gathering funds in No More Heroes. The initial way is by doing odd jobs which can be signed up for at the Job Center. The jobs go from collecting coconuts all the way to exterminating scorpions in a barren field. So if one of the jobs doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, you can try one of the many others that’ll become available as you grow higher in the assassin ranks. The other ways to accumulate funds aren’t quite as varied, but still offer a good bit of entertainment. My personal favorite are the assassination missions that are accessed via the corrupt K-Entertainment. The missions are basically bite sized portions of previously visited levels in the No More Heroes campaign. Depending on your finesse in the field, you’ll be rewarded with a medal ranging from bronze to gold; attaining a gold will of course give you the greater wad of LBs. And lastly, there are the challenging free roam missions, which can be found while out exploring Santa Destroy. Similar to the K-Entertainment tasks, the goal of the free roam missions is to fell the many hired goons scattered throughout the level, but with a difficulty spike; one hit leads to mission failure. This variety of missions and jobs definitely helps out with the “repetitive” nature that No More Heroes sports during the downtime between main missions.
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