If you're looking for a good M-rated game on the Wii, this is it. Stop looking for a game and pick this up.
Despite the hilariously ridiculous motivation behind Travis' aim for number 1, No More Heroes is a colorful, nostalia-induced action game that makes great strides to make the controls of the Wii work to their potential, and is a fun game that never lets up being funny or a blast to play.
Players are thrown right into the first stage of the game, and are tutored in the beginning of it to help them get used to the controls. This way of throwing players into the beginning of the game works surprisingly well, and getting used to the control scheme doesn't take long. It feels smooth and you'll love how it plays once you know how to play it.
Using the A button to attack, the Wiimote to put yourself into high or low stance, perform finishing attacks and wrestling moves, and the B button to set up for said wrestling moves, attacking in No More Heroes feels intense, responsive, and it's not rare to find yourself getting into the game's combat and even acting just like Travis himself.
Dodging in No More Heroes is, to quote my friend that let me borrow the game to play it, "sexy money". It's fluid and helps add a layer of strategy to the action-based combat. This dodging is absolutely necessary in most boss battles, and without the smooth dodging, No More Heroes would have been more of a by-the-numbers action game.
After slaying your way through a multitude of enemies in a level, you come across a save point, which is cleverly a toilet, items to heal up, and the entrance to the stage boss. The bosses are all a bit different from each other, which helps keeps things interesting. Sadly, some of the later bosses rely a bit too much on just wailing away, then backing up to avoid damage than any actual "strategy" and the bosses late in the game all feel like the same boss with slightly different variation. Which is sad because the combat is such a crucial and entertaining aspect of the game.
When you're not doing the main missions, you have to make money to enter them, and this is done through side jobs. The hubworld you travel through is gorgeous, bit it feels a bit dead, and without some sort of easier way to navigate, you are forced to bike the whole way to a destination or back. The map is also a bit hard to see because of the coloring and all the icons that end up on it at one time. However, navigating Santa Destroy isn't too difficult, and at first it's pretty fun finding all the nooks and crannies of the town. In the end I would've hoped for a better navigation system than always having to manually go from place to place, especially since it gets tedious.
Side jobs are at first fairly ambitious, but over the course of the game, they grow a bit stale and you may find yourself sticking to a few of the jobs and just spamming them for cash as you know how to do them and they provide decent money, rather than trying your hand at something new that might prove frustrating. These side jobs are split between regular jobs and assassination jobs. The side jobs are unlocked over the course of the game, and once you're far into the game doing the older jobs is pointless. It's a bit sad and the side jobs just feel pushed into the game to extend its length. However they're not entirely frustrating and in the beginning they are somewhat fun.
The graphics are amazing for the Wii. They are a bit sloppy in parts, but for the most part No More Heroes is quite a good game to look at, and it's easy to get lost in the world of Santa Destroy because of it. The bike can get caught sometimes in parts of the environment, but other than that there's nothing wrong with the way the game plays technically or graphically, it's a sound game and well-made, and it adds to the enjoyment of the game as a whole.
The soundtrack of the game is a bit split. It's fairly good music, and some of it is pretty nostalgia-enducing, much like some of the interfaces in the game, but there's not that much to listen to. The hubworld is pretty much silent, the bike only have one tune that plays over and over (and as a result, it tends to get old), and the levels all have pretty much the exact same musical theme. While what music there is is good, there's not enough of it.
The voicework is very entertaining, from Travis' humorous approach to being an assassin, to Silvia's seductive and manipulative nature, and everything in between. The voicework makes the lines delivered in the game's cutscenes all the more enjoyable to watch.
Throughout the game you can unlock a myriad of clothing and weapons for Travis to use. Switching between the active gear is simple; just go to the motel and go to Travis' closet, and choose what you want. His weapon can be switched by going to the side of his bed. All unlockables aside from the weapons are simply for show, and so it's only there if you wanna give Travis a unique look.
As stated before, the bosses are a lot of fun and decently varied, but the end of the game somewhat confines the last few bosses to the same sort of battle style. However, the bosses are all colorful in character and fighting each one is a lot of fun. Finding the opening to wail at them while dodging or blocking their attacks is intense, and these boss battles will push your growing vocabulary with the game's combat system to its limit. The bosses are some of the best parts of the game, except near the end where it becomes pretty much routine. Still, the combat shines even in these somewhat frustrating segments. I only recall seeing a brief moment of something to consider cheapness in a certain boss that continued to fire at me while I was knocked out and I could not get up until I had something in the way to block. Other than that, not a single major issue with the combat.
Pros and Cons:
+ Awesome combat system
+ World of Santa Destroy feels alive and filled with a certain magical atmosphere
+ Great music
+ Hilarious story
- Navigating the hubworld gets a little tedious
- Not a lot of music
In the end, No More Heroes is not without flaws. It's a game with a lot of potential, and it's a lot of fun. It's definitely worth picking up if you're looking for a good action game for the Wii, and is one of the few good M-rated games you will find on it. When you're not laughing at the humorous writing, you're in the middle of intense combat. The side jobs, regardless of their nature, are still a decent way to break the game's pacing up a bit so it's not a tiring climb to the end. All in all, No More Heroes is a memorable and fun experience, and definitely recommended for anyone looking for a decent Wii game.