Whenever Nintendo consoles are brought into discussion, the main thing that usually comes to mind are their long line of successful first-party titles and franchises. Such as, Fire Emblem, Mario, Metroid, and Zelda. Just two years ago, they’ve even scored a surprising hit with Splatoon, which is easily my favorite Wii U game. Unfortunately, they’ve also gained notoriety for a lack of notable third-party titles that are found on other competing platforms (Microsoft and Sony), and their content is filled with a vast collection of forgettable shovel-ware. But despite this negative reputation that they have established towards some passionate gamers, their are still some hidden gems worth finding if you dig past the crummy garbage pile. For today’s Inkling Video Game Review, I’ll be talking about No More Heroes.
No More Heroes was developed by Suda51, and centers around the adventures of Travis Touchdown, a nerdy and self-centered otaku who also happens to be a light-saber wielding swordsman. He lives in a tiny and disheveled apartment full of a wide assortment of anime memorabilia, hentai, and video games that would probably leave most visitors in a state of revulsion. Travis also has a grey-haired Scottish Fold kitten named, Jeane, probably the closest thing to a friend or family that he has in the city of Santa Destroy (yes that’s the name of the city). Due to a shortage on money, he decides to become a full-fledged assassin since it is a lucrative business in the world of this game.
You don’t really have to worry too much about the story at all since it is pretty nonsensical and ludicrous most of the time. I don’t think their is any point throughout this game where it ever takes itself seriously, which might irk some players. I think this title is a satirical parody on action-oriented games since it embodies the all too familiar tropes found within most games of this particular genre; cringe-inducing dialogue, minimal characterization, over-the-top violence, and repetitive gameplay. But despite that, I found myself enjoying this game quite a bit.
The combat in this game centers around a mix of beating up enemies with your beam katana (basically a light-saber) and performing wrestling maneuvers to immobilize them. You press on the A or B button of the Wiimote to attack, and once they are finally low on health, you deliver the final blow by swaying the Wiimote in the direction of the visual arrow cue that briefly shows up on the screen. On paper, this might all just sound like a complete QTE (quick time event) snore fest, but the gameplay is actually very addicting and intuitive. While the fighting mechanics are pretty simple to learn and grasp, it is surprisingly nuanced in vareity. Depending on how you position the Wiimote in your hand, Travis will either fight with a low or high posture, which ends up having an effect on how well you target your enemies.
Just one warning I have for those that are potentially worried about the content in this game is that it is definitely quite gory, and swear words are constantly thrown left and right without any hesitation; this is truly a rated-M game. I’d honestly have a hard time recommending this game to children or even young teenagers since it is quite vulgar and morally repugnant at times. But if your stomach can handle this, then I guess it’s up to you.
Travis also partakes in peculiar part-time jobs in order to fund his expensive assassination missions such as, grabbing coconuts from palm trees, garbage collecting, filling up cars with gas, and many other deplorable tasks. These various activities are essential in order to progress throughout the game, which kind of sucks since they were pretty boring and contrived. The open-world environment of Santa Destroy is also one of the weaker aspects of this game. Driving around this city in your motorbike feels very awkward and clunky to handle. Furthermore, the city itself looks quite bland and generic , it was sort of like wandering through an empty sandbox. Even though the cel-shaded designs in this game is usually quite gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing, the graphical shortcomings of the Wii are unfortunately accentuated during these segments of the game.
All in all, No More Heroes isn’t a perfect game and has it’s fair share of shortcomings. At times the combat can feel repetitive, and this game can be quite dull and tedious (especially the side missions) in some moments. With that being said, this game is still worth your time since it has an exceptional art style and graphics for a Wii title. It also pushes the limits of the Wii in terms of gameplay ingenuity by actually using the motion-control scheme to great effect, rather than just haphazardly implementing it as a cheap gimmick. If blatantly violent and impudent titles are your cup of tea, this is the game for you.