The premise of No More Heroes sets the mood for the rest of the game. You're Travis Touchdown, an otaku and a gamer, and you meet a smoking hot babe by the name of Sylvia Christel. For reasons unknown to you at the beginning of the game, she somehow managed to get you to kill the 11th ranked assassin, Helter Skelter, with a beam katana that you won on an internet auction, and now the only way to go is up to rank number one! Of course, your main motivation for doing this is to have sex with Sylvia "just once."
The game is blatantly sexual, provides a teensy bit of profanity and copious amounts of blood and gore. All of this is apparent right from the first minute of the game. But that's what makes No More Heroes so glorious. This isn't a game that tries to be classy, and yet, it still gives off it's own charm that makes it better than most games. No More Heroes has soul, this isn't the kind of game that wants to stand out as a work of post-modern art or anything. It's a game and it knows it's a game. You'll find hilarious references to anime and videogames throughout; it even pokes fun at Duke Nukem as well as itself.
Despite the absurdity of the game's premise, the gameplay feels a bit more traditional than the likes of Killer 7. This isn't an experimental game or anything, it's a straight up action game and it is the best one on the Wii, in fact, as it stands right now, No More Heroes is the best action game of the current console generation. The first thing to know is that this isn't Twilight Princess or Red Steel combat, you attack with the A button, not by waggling the Wii remote. Admittedly, your weapon is a beam katana (read: lightsaber for Star Wars fans) and the idea of swinging it around and having it make sounds may cross your mind, but it's when you realize the genius of the combat and how Suda 51 beat LucasArts to the punch on lightsaber combat. You see, you will attack with the A button for sword slashes, but should you deal enough damage the game will give you the option of slicing your opponent with the blade, in which case the action slows down and you swing the Wii remote, cutting enemies in half and watching fountains of blood and coins spurt forth while they scream out about their spleens.
Admittedly, there are two sides to No More Heroes as a game, and this is where the rollercoaster part comes in. You see, No More Heroes shines at it's brightest when you're fighting the game's various bosses/assassins. The game is more intense in that it fully emphasizes the one-on-one showdown at stake, a life or death battle, and in No More Heroes, the deaths are brutal. But the game slows down, it doesn't come to a stop, but it slows down when you get to the open-world portion of it. There are entry fees for your battles, and you do need to do odd jobs to make money. Admittedly, the money comes rather easily, so you will have to do a few part-time jobs and assassinations to raise money, but most gamers won't spend too much time in No More Heroes' empty sandbox world.
But the two conflicting game ideas can also be interpreted as a theme or even a message to the gamer, that when you play a game you get taken to these fantastical worlds and locales and the impossible becomes possible and when you're done, you're grounded back in reality. In a decision about games as art, art can't sacrifice the fun, and No More Heroes is fun to play. The game is full of spunk, sass, and moxie during the main assassin showdowns, even the parts leading up to them. Honestly, having a duel with two swords, even if yours is a beam katana, in an abandoned building is just so reminiscent of samurai movies and the game is aware of that when Travis shouts out, "You've been watching too many Samurai movies!" It's the kind of game that when you fight each assassin it becomes clear that No More Heroes was a labor of love, that no idea, no matter how absurd or off the wall wasn't considered. No More Heroes is a game, it's just a game and that's what makes it so special.
It isn't about proper driving mechanics or anything like that. No More Heroes doesn't try and make gray your favorite color with "realistic" visuals or anything. The game is so plain and washed out looking, but that's what gives it it's charm. The game is over-the-top, from character designs to ideas to even the visual style. From a model with a prosthetic leg who wants to kick your ass to a mailman who thinks he's a superhero, No More Heroes pushes the limits and breaks through with flying colors on all fronts.
While the sound itself isn't anything special, it gets the job done. Footsteps are heard when you run and so forth. But the dialogue is a different story. Everything flows, no matter how wacky it all sounds. And the music, damn it all, sometimes the music just sounds damn sexy, especially during the latter few fights in the game.
Suda 51 and Grasshopper have created a one of a kind experience. A game like No More Heroes can only be done on the Wii, and the fact that it works, that every part of it works is just a testament to his talent as a developer. Games like No More Heroes don't come around too often and when they do they help to remind gamers why they play games in the first place. No More Heroes is a game and that's why it's so damn good.
But enough of the fancy talk, here's to describing No More Heroes the only way it truly deserves to be described: f'ing badass!