No More Heroes is stylish, mature themed, and somehow feels nostalgic and fresh at the same time.
"There isn't much normalcy in this game, everything and everyone is unusual."
No More Heroes is unique in many ways, and this is something you'll notice as soon as you turn it on. You play as a twenty something bachelor named Travis Touchdown who is obsessed with professional wrestling and lives in a run down apartment in the imaginary city named Santa Destroy. Travis is a hitman wielding a beam katana (basically a lightsaber) he won in an internet auction.
The story in this game kicks off when Travis accepts a mission to kill a dangerous man known as Helter Skelter. After completing this mission he attains the rank of 11 in the United Assasin's Association (UAA). And the only way to go up in rank is to kill the people ranked above of you. The rest of this games plot consists of Travis moving up in rank by winning matches against the higher ranking assassin's set up for him by the UAA. The story does get a whole lot more interesting than that though, and weirder…much much weirder. This sentiment is true of the characters as well and they all have an intriguing past, which makes sense as it has warped them all in to brutal killing machines. There isn't much normalcy in this game, everything and everyone is unusual. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, different can be good. Unfortunately the plot is a bit hard to follow and I found a couple of the twists at the end of the game to just be weird and not that satisfying.
"Admittedly this content isn't for everybody…And to those people I say, get over yourselves!"
When I say the themes in NMH are unusual, this isn't all bad, as I mentioned different can be good. The edgy content in this game provides numerous hilarious moments and a mature feel completely nonexistent in almost every other Wii game. For example, to save your game you have to go back to Travis' apartment and take a crap and it shows him sitting on the can as it asks if you wish to save (don't worry, it doesn't show anything you don't want to see). And when Travis needs to recharge his beam katana (after it runs out of energy) he violently shakes it up and down in between his legs with a slightly crouched posture as if he's….well you know….ah never mind, it you don't already know, you don't need to know. Is this a little immature? Yes. Is it funny? Every fricken time. Admittedly this content isn't for everybody, as some people will find this humor tasteless and many of the themes too mature and twisted. And to those people I say, get over yourselves! Or grow up (though this one isn't really optional for those or you under age)…
"Your motorcycle can jump on command…and riding around on it is cool even if it's extremely unrealistic and frustrating"
Santa Destroy is very similar to the cities of the GTA games and you'll navigate through it using a very similar mini map as well. Aside from mission locations, the city is filled with shops, part time jobs, secrets, extra missions and all the other stuff you'd expect. For some reason the game forces you to pay an expensive entrance fee before taking on each dual, so this makes exploring the city and running some errands a necessity to progressing through the game and buying new stuff. Unfortunately, your bikes brutish controls (more on this in a bit) made exploring the city feel like a chore and the side jobs were few and became repetitive fast. Though they were extremely lucrative; I wish I made thousands of dollars for mundane tasks like mowing a lawn or gathering coconuts.
Travis gets from point A to point B using one of the most badass motorcycles I've ever laid eyes on. It feels like you could actually take on a car with this thing and win, not to say that you would, and not that it matters, as the physics in this game are ridiculously out of whack. You can knock over many objects by simply nudging them, while others are invincible. And your motorcycle handles poorly, which is frustrating because if you run into one of those immovable objects you'll be knocked off your bike. And this forces you to endure watching Travis lay on the ground for what seems like an eternity before he decides to get up and get back on the bike. Your bike can jump on command though and riding around on it is cool even if it's extremely unrealistic and frustrating. If your close to a location you can always ditch the bike and go on foot, which is an ideal option a lot of the time as Travis can book it (be it temporarily as he'll get tired).
"The controls are…very responsive…This is good…because you'll be using the motion sensitive quicktime events to dismember, decapitate, and dispatch droves of enemies…"
The greatest strength in NMH is easily its overly gory and stylish combat though. Combat in NMH is straightforward and easy to pick up yet deep enough remain fun throughout. Most of your actions are controlled using the buttons on the Wii Mote and Nunchuk, however finishing moves and wrestling slams are executed via quick time events using the motion capabilities of Wii controllers. This system strikes a good balance between button pushing and motion sensing. The controls are also very responsive; this is one of the first games I've played on the Wii where the motion sensors worked as they should the majority of the time. This is good too, because you'll be using the motion sensitive quicktime events to dismember, decapitate, and dispatch droves of enemies throughout the game.
The regular enemies in this game are easy for the most part, but the bosses in NMH are challenging. This is the way a game should be balanced as it allows you to have your fun slaughtering the cronies while bringing attention to the incredibly well designed boss fights, which take center stage in this game. These showdowns range from a duel with a gunslinger in the middle of a baseball stadium to running down an old lady with an oversized laser in her shopping cart. Each of these battles plays out almost completely differently and requires you to think from a different mind set each time. Every single boss fight is badass and satisfying to overcome, though it can be frustrating figuring out how to beat them.
"This game has only one speed, FAST…"
The Wii's graphical capabilities are definitely inferior to the other next gen systems, but somehow NMH found a way to make this work in their favor. The graphics have a very retro feel to them and in makes the jagged edges of the renders look natural. The menus, health gauge, and other icons could have been pulled off on the regular Nintendo. The cell shaded graphics of this game are extremely colorful and vibrant though and combined with the throwback feel it achieves a style completely unique to this game. It is nostalgic and aesthetic at the same time. These aren't the most detailed graphics on the Wii, but they are some of the best.
The sound in NMH maintains the same style as the graphics, blending classic beats and sounds with some new age ones. The music is almost always up tempo matching the frenetic pace of the gameplay, even in the story sequences. This game only has one speed, FAST, and this is reflected in the music. Since Travis wields a light saber (or beam katana, whatever) the sound affects are obviously quite good, nothing quite matches the humming of a lightsaber as it passes through the air. The voice acting was great and the voices used fit perfectly with whatever character they were representing. This is impressive considering the eclectic mix of characters present in NMH.
"I'd liken No More Heroes to Mario on drugs with a lightsaber. It's a little unusual, but always interesting and extremely fun."
Even if you accomplish almost everything there is to do in the twisted city that is Santa Destroy, this game isn't going to last you very long. I forget the exact amount of time, but you can probably beat the game in around 8-10 hours. There are a few endings and a new game plus option though giving you ample motivation to tackle this wacky adventure a second time. And given the all of the unique level designs, bosses, and badass nature of this game playing it a second time isn't that much of a chore, especially since you won't have to do as much busy work as you did on the first playthrough.
+Responsive controls and addictive well balanced combat
+Unique overall feel, mature content, and many hilarious moments
+Well designed and satisfying boss battles
+Beautiful aesthetics combine old and new school elements perfectly
-Extremely poor physics engine and motorcycle controls
-The plot is a little nonsensical and erratic
-Must repeat many side missions and jobs over and over again in order to obtain the obscene amounts of money required to move on and buy stuff
>>No More Heroes is a very unique game and for this reason I encourage everyone with a great sense of humor and the desire to try something different to play it. The games style is somehow retro and edgy at the same time, thus everyone should be able to find something to like here. If nothing else I suggest renting it, the varied and unique level designs and boss fights are worth experiencing at least once and the game doesn't take long to complete. If you like the game enough to buy it, the new game plus option makes multiple playthroughs much less tedious than the first one. I'd liken No More Heroes to Mario on drugs with a lightsaber. It's a little unusual, but always interesting and extremely fun.
Score – 8.5
"It's gonna be a long, hard road. But who knows? Could kickass. Could be dangerous. Could totally suck. Whadaya say, bro? Join me. Let's see how far we can take this. And for you there, holding the Wii Remote right now, just press the A button. Let the bloodshed begin!" -Travis Touchdown