Originally released for the Nintendo Wii back in 2007 – No More Heroes is an action-adventure hack and slash title from the insane mind of Suda51.
The game follows Travis Touchdown, a fan of video games and anime who wins a beam katana in an auction, from which he inadvertently becomes involved in the United Assassin’s Association, forced (no, persuaded) to kill assassins higher in rank to prevent other assassins from targeting him. It’s a comical tale that doesn’t take itself too seriously and you shouldn’t either. It’s typical Suda51 over the top goodness and I love it.
The gameplay around this twisted tale consists of two primary aspects – combat and mini-games. The combat being the highlight of the experience, consists of simple hack and slash mechanics. It has your standard heavy, light attacks, melee, blocks, dodge rolls and grapple moves. As you play you’ll unlock more additions to your arsenal while finding new and interesting ways to dispose of foes.
When you’re not slashing thugs and assassins into infinite pieces you’ll find yourself driving around a mostly uninspired open world completing mini-games for cash.
Your vehicle of choice?
This monstrosity of epic proportions. Again, typic Suda…
It handles like what one would assume the batmobile in a Michael Bay Batman movie would. Stiff turning, insane speed, gravity defying jumps accompanied by breakneck turns. The more you drive the more it becomes apparent that this world is mostly empty and the driving serves only as padding. It extends what could have been a shorter experience simply to extend it. Inevitably what seemed to be epic over the top charm fades to mindless uninspired tedium and that’s never good.
Oh and you’ll need to participate in all of it to pay for access to your next target. Thus we have a rollercoaster of a gameplay loop. The highs being the boss battles while the lows consists of the tasks to get you there. From cutting grass to picking up coconuts, you’ll find yourself well occupied throughout this 12 or so hour experience. Keeping in mind that all that time will be uneven with a majority of it being of the disappointing variety.
Boss battles like the one against Shinobu make the struggle worth it if you can persist towards them. They each have their own style, skills and combat patterns to learn. If you choose to play on the easier difficulty as I did you’ll find them to be a lite undertaking, however I think it’s much more rewarding to play on a tougher difficulty. Doing so encourages the player to be more technical in a way that improves the experience. It forces smart play filled with blocks, parries and well timed combos. If you’re gonna spend most of your time with tedium then you owe yourself the challenge these feature battles presents.
More so than anything it should be noted that this game is like a symbol of it’s generation. It’s a dated experience that doesn’t really hold up to the advancements of time but offers an interesting diversion in a world full of paper-cut copy and paste game design. It’s unique and it looks the part too. For some reason the devs chose not to port the original HD remaster – No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise which released for the PS3 and XBOX 360. Possibly because it was too buggy an undertaking or maybe there are other underlying factors. Instead they’ve made a simple upscale of the Wii version which unfortunately has not aged well. Seeing the lower textured cell shaded style on a 1080p screen is almost agonizing to look at. In handheld mode it fairs much better on the Switch’s 720p screen albeit with a significant trade-off in performance. I’m not sure why that is because the switch is a much more powerful system than the Wii and the game isn’t very demanding either.
It should also be noted that despite the game retaining the motion controls of the original, they’re not worth your time. In my tests, waggling around the joycons did more to hurt my wrist than moved the beam kitana. It’s a gimmick you don’t need. Stick to a gamepad for the best experience with the game. Similarly it makes very little difference to interact with any of the aspects of Travis’s life outside of assassinations. Though you may be able to play with his kitten, customize his look or perform other activities, they don’t have enough of an impact. Most of all you’d be wasting money and worse than that time by purchasing anything other than upgrades for your weapon or hitting the gym.
I used to consider No More Heroes to be one of my favorite games of all time. My memory of it, a collection of it’s greatest moments. Highlights like the creative adrenaline pumping opening, the motion controlled madness and the crazy characters are what I remembered most prior to this review. Somehow I forgot about the tedium, difficulty and visuals. Nostalgia is a hell of a thing after all. It’s much more than mere reminiscing; it’s a feeling. “Nostalgia is the warm, fuzzy emotion that we feel when we think about fond memories from our past. If you don’t have those memories then this is just an average game that you should only pickup on sale. The rest of us got some assassinations to be doing, for the waifu desires tribute.
The copy of No More Heroes for the Nintendo Switch used for this review was provided to us by it’s publisher, XSEED Games.