Saturday, April 12, 2008
No More Heroes review
The Wii, as much as I loved it, so far has been exactly like the GameCube - in that its core audience disappoints me. Gamers demand more original games, but when something like Zack and Wiki comes they ignore them. I blame the none-gamers and hardcore Nintendo folks, but that would be too easy. So here we have No More Heroes, a unique Wii game that isn't a port that has bombed because nobody knows about it. I've yet to see a single promotion for this title on telly or in print, but I've already seen twenty commercials of a couple of models playing Mario Kart Wii - a game that is guaranteed to sell out anyway because the mass media thinks that bolting a controller to a plastic toy is innovative, and Ian fucking Wright.
No More Heroes is generally a pretty good game and has a similar style to Suda 51's previous title Killer7. Unfortunately it also doesn't provide you with a substantial amount of content. Here you play as Travis Touchdown, an otaku kid living in a fictional city of Santa Destroy, California. He is a stereotypical video game addict, therefore is blood thirsty for violence. And he moonlights as an assassin killing people with his light sabre rip-off which he won in an online auction, all part of his plan to buy more video games as well as gaining the number one position within the United Assassins Association, a trade body of sorts for all kinds of hitmans.
Despite the similar visuals to Killer7, No More Heroes is an open-world free roaming sandbox game. You can get around the town by foot or through his motorcycle. In between assassinations, Travis can earn cash in numerous available part time jobs such as mowing lawns, collecting coconuts and picking the garbage. Yes, more mini-games for the Wii - we just can't get enough... Money earned can be used to buy weapons, clothes and more video tapes. You can watch videos or change clothings at Travis's apartment as well as saving the game when Travis takes a dump. Despite the seemingly sandbox style, No More Heroes is a very linear experience. Complete the odd job, kill some generic enemies, kill assassin to rise up the rank, rinse & repeat.
Combat is naturally via the use of the Wii remote and Nunchuk attachment. You control Travis movement via the Nunchuk controller, using the analog stick to move him and pressing the 'Z' button to block or lock-on the target. Travis's beam katana is controlled via pressing the 'A' button on the Wiimote. Here is where the disappointment comes in. You can't perform 1:1 sword movements with the Wii remote. The only concession to this is the ability to tilt the waggle slightly to adjust the beam katana attack to low or high. You can hold down the 'A' button to charge Travis's katana attack, of which the result will depend on which stance you are on. Travis can also perform melee attacks ('B' button) as well as displaying his wrestling moves on his stunned opponents. Overall I felt more could have been given to showcase the Wii's innovative potential as it seems to be a waste when many of the moves can easily be replicated on a traditional gamepad.
Ignoring the bland environment (with less than stellar frame rate) and some fairly annoying glitches (e.g. collision detection, ugh); No More Heroes oozes great overall style, wonderful production value and more importantly does not take itself too seriously. The voice acting is top notch and the soundtrack mixed with a variety of different modern genre. Media savvy gamers would be delighted with the plentiful of contemporary pop culture references that pokes fun at our hobbies, yet we play it because we connect with the central character. However there is a sense that despite all these, the title deserves just a bit more than a collection of mini-games - though I would not completely dismiss the title as a style over substance game. Despite that I highly recommend Wii owners to pick up No More Heroes. Don't you go disappointing yourself by picking up something like Sonic & Mario.