No More Heroes is Half Awesome
No More Heroes" for the Nintendo Wii has arrived in stores, and due to the critical acclaim of 2005's "Killer7" it is getting a lot of attention. Good news, the game is good, mostly. It is two animals on one disk, one-half "Devil May Cry" and the other a sad "Grand Theft Auto" rip-off. No More Heroes is a shining example of when adding too much detracts from the whole.
Those expecting more of Goichi Suda's bizarre design will be satisfied. They may be disappointed, however, that this outing has suffered to reach a more mainstream audience. Gone is the psychodrama of "Killer7", and in its place is violent and vulgar brand irreverent humor that will probably offend you slightly less than it entertains you. It's very funny, and intentionally sophomoric.
The character's main motivations are pride and lust, as well as the other seven deadlies to varying degrees. In "Killer7" we delved into the psyche of a murderer with multiple personalities. In "No More Heroes" Travis kills people to try to get into a blonde's pants. Obviously, Suda slightly lowered the intellectual bar.
The game play, however, has not. In fact, it's far more fun. The core of the game is a classic beat'em-up, which arms Travis with a copyright infringement safe version of a lightsaber, and professional wrestling moves. Combat is a matter of charging into a group of foes with your laser blade, slicing off a series of vital body parts and finishing off whoever survives with a crossface chickenwing suplex. After a series of mooks, the game treats the player to a fantastic cut-scenes and well-designed boss fights. The game isn't breaking any genre conventions here, but it is excelling at them.
Unfortunately, between levels you are required to travel around an artistically uninspired and technically flawed town playing a series of boring mini-games in order to earn progression. Watch Tarantino's "Kill Bill", but after the Bride kills each of her targets pause it and work a Dominos delivery shift before continuing. It only serves to artificially lengthen the game. I want to love the game despite this horrible decision, but it's hard. Without this, it would be a quick adrenaline rush completed in one or two sittings.
The game is certainly outstanding, but not because of revolutionary gameplay or story. The game's style makes it unique. You'll revel in the "Sanjuro" style blood spray and Travis's over the top ego more than anything.
There is no real reason to buy this game. You can easily complete it within a rental period. I'd advise renting it if you're a Suda51 fan, appreciate off-beat design or a beat'm-up fan. Just be prepared for some frustration. "No More Heroes" gets a 5/10 from me. I'll assign half of a perfect score because half of the game is fun and the other is utter tripe.