Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

No More Heroes (Wii) Review

Review for No More Heroes on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

When Grasshopper, developers of the ultra-violent killer7, announced that they'd be bringing an exclusive mature title to Wii, people sat up and looked bewildered. After the onslaught of family-friendly rubbish Nintendo's system has suffered, who would have expected Goichi Suda's next big game to appear on the same console? Well...hardly anybody, but we're glad it did.

In No More Heroes we join loser Travis Touchdown in his mission to become the best assassin in the world, bed the girl and buy lots of t-shirts. A nerd to the extreme, Touchdown is a complete otaku obsessed with lolicon witch anime, video games and wrestling. Heck, his weapon of choice is a light saber won in an online auction. Despite all this though, he is also the epitome of cool and one of the most likeable video game characters we've met, somehow, even though many of his actions are reprehensible. Why do we like a man who kills for no other reasons than pure enjoyment or to get carnal pleasure at the end of it all? Could it be the sneer, the Bowie-esque looks? The attitude of a certain Jackass star in that he's almost totally fearless in the face of the insane? We're not sure. Perhaps it's just that there's something primal about him.

Which, of course, is exactly what Suda and co. were aiming for, we imagine. Grasshopper CEO Suda-san is well known for his infatuation with British rock music, particularly punk - you only have to see Grasshopper's mottos of 'Video Game Band' and 'Punk's Not Dead' to realise this - and it seems that with No More Heroes, itself named after The Stranglers' album and song, he has set out to create a video game embodiment of his musical tastes. He succeeded. If there was such a thing as a punk video game, No More Heroes would be the game to barrel in, throw some things about and make an unsightly mess of itself in representation of the classification. The game's presentation is rough around the edges but stylishly cel-shaded, as though the developers knew Wii could do better but decided to leave it looking scruffy instead to fit in with the mood. Vicious guitar notes screech whenever you enter a new location or encounter a boss foe. The game is technically poor in a fair few aspects, not least the sometimes appalling pop-in of trees and the like in the scarcely populated open-world map that you traverse on your insanely over-sized motorbike, but again it almost feels intentional in some ways.

Screenshot for No More Heroes on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The gameplay, however, is where the punk really leaks - nay, tears - out. As mentioned, the whole basis of the story is that Travis wants to become the number one assassin, and mainly so he can have his wicked way with the beautiful, tantalisingly foreign and above all sadistic devil woman Silvia Christel, organiser of the assassin fights. As a horny male Travis has a one track mind in getting to his goal, and this is shown in how the game plays out; essentially, it is boss encounter after boss encounter, with the gaps in between being filled with menial jobs so that you can afford the entry fees to these battles. It's this set up that leads to a rough, brutal and frantic ride of a game, in a similar fashion to a good, raging punk album, though the effect is subdued thanks to the interruption of jobs and other distractions which involve collecting and buying things.

The jobs are an odd bunch. They range from mowing lawns and finding lost kittens to picking up rubbish and cleaning up graffiti. It's as though you can be as ruthless as you want to be during battle, but at the end of it all you still have to conform to the rules of establishment, a stark message that in order to act the punk you must pay for it later. With a couple of misses, the jobs are nice little mini-games that serve their purpose well and are quite fun. They're clearly nowhere near as fun as the rest of the game, and they're not supposed to be being work, but they function well and are mainly controlled with motions (press A to poke a piece of rubbish, lift remote to put it into the bin strapped to your back, for example). Mowing lawns and collecting coconuts are favourites of ours. You can also take on freelance assassination missions to pay the bills, which are more enjoyable but more difficult.

Screenshot for No More Heroes on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Dotted about the map are a few key locations that you can visit in order to improve yourself. These include the dojo of Thunder Ryu, an ex-wrestler who acts as Travis' mentor, complete with homosexual undertones created by his continual insistence that Travis is naked to train, and the strange Dr. Naomi who builds additional beam katanas for you for extortionate prices. You can also buy wrestling videos from a shop to teach yourself new moves, but the item you purchase the most will also likely be the most unnecessary - the clothes. There are dozens of items of clothing you can buy spread over the categories of trousers, belts, jackets, sunglasses and, most prominently, t-shirts. If you're anything like us you'll be buying quite a few of these t-shirts and changing your clothing about regularly, as the idea is a simple but addictive one, especially for t-shirt obsessives. Cough. It adds an air of individuality to the game as you can have Travis' look reflecting your mood at all times, from funny to angry to plain old silly, if you so choose. It's touches like this that led us to begin performing the same unintentional ritual before each big fight: play with the pet cat, watch the shockingly addictive Genki Rockets music video included, change clothes, go out to murder somebody.

This would all be for nothing if the fighting itself was bad, but thankfully it isn't. The control scheme is one of the best uses of Wii because it is subtle in comparison to other attempts. Grasshopper correctly identified that swiping for every single sword movement would get tiring in a frantic game like No More Heroes, where you can be striking several blows a second in the most intense periods, and so you lock onto enemies with Z and attack with a click of the A button, the position of the remote determining where you hit. Hold the remote normally to hit the lower body, tilt vertically to aim your assault on the upper body. You can also hit B to attempt to stun your opponents to set them up for wrestling moves, activated with another press of B. Wisely, Grasshopper chose to use motions in fights only for finishing moves and wrestling moves. Get your enemy into a situation for either of these and giant arrows will appear on screen to show you which way to thrust your controllers, or spin them to break weapon locks. It's a system that means you get into the fight that much more by only using the motions on 'special occasions', and the result is that your motions actually feel like they mean something when they're used. You also get to use special moves if you get lucky - kill enemies and a one-armed bandit-style reel appears at the bottom of the screen, and if the three icons match up you get to unleash the fury in a number of ways. The combat system is visceral and downright fantastic because it is basic and to the point.

Screenshot for No More Heroes on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The assassins you face are also nothing short of brilliant; a round-up of some of the most memorable boss fights we've encountered. To talk about them too much would only spoil the surprises, but to say that no boss fight is the same is an understatement. If you want a game where one fight you'll be deflecting bullets from a Texan and battling a superhero with laser beams that fire from his crotch another, or a fight that feels like it could have been plucked right from a samurai movie, here you go. An endurance test towards the end is a great change of pace, and there's even a homage to God Hand. Before each one you get a tasty build up, wherein you battle your way through minions to get to your big match. It's in these sections that the Wii remote speaker is used as well, quite cleverly, as Silvia will call you up to give you mixed signals a-plenty; press the 2 button to answer and hold the remote to your ear to hear the vocal onslaught. All the fights have just the right amount of difficulty - you will undoubtedly die quite a lot at the hands of some of them, but they are pitched so that you barely ever feel completely overwhelmed, always have another go and have your frustrations wiped away reasonably quickly.

Humour plays a big role in No More Heroes, and if you were to make a list of the funniest games created we'd be surprised if it didn't make it into that list. Whether it's slapstick humour in the job mini-games, some of the bizarre calls made by enemies or by Travis (the special moves spring to mind - Blueberry Cheese Brownie?!), Travis' pervy comments and actions or just by the general insanity of the characters, you'd be a cold gamer to not let out a laugh more than once during a playthrough. Humour sometimes seems to take priority over story as well, but this shouldn't be seen as a bad thing: No More Heroes is more often than not intended as a parody, as shown by some of the weird twists chucked in by Suda-san, who wrote the game as well as directed it. At all times it's obvious that No More Heroes is a game and nothing else, as it constantly self-references and breaks the fourth wall in some parts. The pixelated HUD and high score table that (amusingly) pops up when you kill one of your targets back this up, too.

Ignore the fact that the European release is 'censored' compared to the American version (though this isn't the case: Suda-san himself prefers the black goo/coins tipping out of bad guys over masses of blood as it is more in-line with the 'it knows it's a game' style) and go out and buy No More Heroes if you haven't already done so. It has its technical faults, but you're going to be hard pushed to find anything else quite so jubilant to be a game, anything so violent but still light-hearted, any game that quite comes close to capturing the feeling of a certain musical genre. Grasshopper have certainly proven themselves right with No More Heroes: punk is definitely not dead.

Screenshot for No More Heroes on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Amazing boss battles padded out with some pretty decent mini-games, driving round an empty city on a big bike and random fights. The simple, effective controls and boss characters make this.

Graphics

The cel-shading and the whole style is nice, but it's done in a very grimy, low-fi fashion. It could have looked better, but some of the feeling would be lost.

Sound

Nice soundtrack, with a mix of rock, electronic and dance music. Oddly, a smidge of opera too. The voice acting is great.

Value

Your initial playthrough will be about 10 - 15 hours, but then you've got all the t-shirts to collect if you so wish, and we bet you're going to be wanting to play through it again at a faster pace when money to enter the matches isn't so tight.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

No More Heroes is like nothing else. It could be done on another system, theoretically, but removal of the basic-but-brilliant Wii functions would rip out half the enjoyment from the combat system. Coupled with an ace sense of humour that references a massive chunk popular culture, a crazy storyline that ducks and weaves everywhere and gameplay that's just plain fun (and violent), No More Heroes is a game that absolutely deserves a place in your collection.

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27.05.2008

10

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Developer

Grasshopper Manufacture

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (14 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I didn't particularly like the mini-games, but the main game itself certainly had charm. Shame this didn't do better, despite a strong start here in the UK.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

jesusraz said:
I didn't particularly like the mini-games, but the main game itself certainly had charm. Shame this didn't do better, despite a strong start here in the UK.

Aye, it's seem to have trickled off which is a shame. Definitely want to give it a shot, but uncertain whether to buy it, will defo try and rent it!

Excellent review Mike Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Staff Member

Great game. Currently playing through the hardest difficulty and I'm stuck at Assassin Number 2. I'll beat her one day.Smilie


Didn't this come out ages ago?

Anyway, good review. Good game too. It was well fun. Not completed it yet, though, Lightmare took his Wii back home Smilie

Music wasn't as great as Killer7 though, nothing beats Rave On, absolutely nothing.

Yeah it was out ages ago, came out in March. Just plugging in a gap in our coverage. Smilie

Thanks guys!

I liked the game enough that I went out and bought Killer7 last night. I want to finish NMH first.

Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not.
Senior ModeratorCubed3 Member

I loved this game, but did not find it much of a challenge, completed it on all difficultys. Definately worth buying.

I also love this game. The soundtrack is great and the gameplay is very fun, even when just playing mini-games. I didn't like all of the boss battles, though. Dr. Peace, even on Bitter difficulty, is a really easy boss. And the last boss, I won't even go into how frustrated I get when he decides to perform his 1 hit kill move.Smilie

The T-Shirts make this game.

BrawlBumBoy is loaning this to me, and I still haven't loaded into the Wii once yet. I need to get it back in my room really but im far too lazy Smilie

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