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No More Heroes Box Art
Grasshopper Manufacture

No More Heroes

Travis Touchdown is like you or me. He loves playing video games and seeing the latest action flicks. He also is a huge fan of wrestling, but still has time to love his pet cat, Jeane. However, one late night at the bar, including a few too many drinks, introduces Travis to a mysterious, yet gorgeous woman known as Sylvia Christel. Not only does Travis become obsessed with her beauty, but agrees to join an assassination organization and sets out to be the top killer in Santa Destroy.


The visuals are a tale of two games. First and foremost, the game sports a stylized, cel-shaded graphics engine that allows for creativity and originality, but also comes up technically short and bland, especially in the overworld. The character designs are top-notch, as each person oozes with personality and ingenuity. Players will encounter an assortment of personalities, from an alcoholic, bat-wielding, preppy girl psycho to a wealthy, egotistical, yet philosophical, redheaded killer, with plenty of variety in between to keep players frothing for more. In addition, the cutscenes that establish these bosses or characters overflow with the same imagination that brought these individuals to life. Throw in a mix of pixilated menus and dialogue boxes, and No More Heroes visually satisfies in certain areas.

On the other side of the game, players will be presented with a boring overworld and featureless backgrounds. While multiple bosses stand out, the level design that accompanies them fail to impress. Players will basically duke it out in corridors, garages and parking lots for a majority of the game. In addition, Santa Destroy presents more pop-up than most last-generation games. On multiple occasions, I encountered cars disappearing as they supposedly drove closer to me. This is frustrating, especially considering that the city is basically comprised of lackluster and repetitive cars, buildings and people. These objects are complemented with terrible hit detection, as players will see their huge bounding box. There is no reason for so many technical glitches in such a desolate place.


The voice-overs fully complement the visual style of the characters; adding more reason to enjoy watching and listening to Travis interact with his environments. The voice cast for this game comes across cheesy and enthusiastic, which fits the theme perfectly. Just like the visuals, the dialogue is completely over-the-top, as players will hear outrageous obscenities thrown out consistently. Not to be outdone, the original score provided by Masafumi Takada is fantastic. There are a few songs that may be repeated, but his pop/techno song that plays in the background of Doctor Naomiís shop will stick with players.

The game also packs some inventive ways to use the Wii-mote speaker. Players will get a phone call from Sylvia before each fight, and you will have to hold the controller to your hear to what she has to say. The game boasts some nice sound effects, such as echoing footsteps, while players march around the subway halls. Yet even with these nice touches, there a few places that leave you wanting more. For example, a metal detector side-job would seem ideal for Wii-mote speaker implementation, yet it is nowhere to be found. Finally, nostalgic players will love the beeps that remind you that games filled with midi music still have a place in our hearts.


Like the graphics, No More Heroes proffers some experiences that are fun and entertaining, while other sections leave you with a bad taste. For those unfamiliar with the game, players use a beam katana (think lightsaber) to slice people in half vertically and detach their heads. This may sound horrifically violent, but the stylized graphics showcase over copious amounts of surreal blood flying from baddies, along with coins. This over-the top action is controlled by players selecting a stance for the katana, either high or low depending on the Wii-moteís position, and then using onscreen cues to slash the controller up or down, left or right. This execution of the Wii-mote breaks up the monotony of most action games, yet players should know that technically it did not matter which way I shook the controller. However, wrestling moves can be realized by using the same motions, in accordance with the nunchuk, and these suplexes did depend on proper hand movement. Finally, a slot-machine type device appears on the bottom of the screen for each kill, which will open up special abilities, such as firing powerful projectiles.

With this arsenal of attacks, players will tackle over ten bosses and stages that are chock-full of blood-hungry enemies. Basically, players will run around destroying tens to hundreds of repetitive baddies, until they get the call from Sylvia. After prepping you, players will dive into a varied assortment of boss battles that require skill and memorization. Each boss contains a different strategy, instead of just straight hack and slash offered by most titles in this genre. In addition, while most of the game is pretty easy, bosses will require more concentration and players will most likely see the screen fizz out and showcase a lost signal, signifying your death. However, upon winning, players will be presented a health upgrade and possibly an advanced weapon, which evokes similarities to The Legend of Zelda titles. As players reach further into the game, you will be presented with more variety and insane characters, which just keeps pushing you to fight up the ranks.

While these segments are enjoyable, the rest of the game really lacks the same exciting spark. In between assassin battles, players will ride their Schpel Tiger (motorcycle) to find side-jobs and killing missions to earn enough money to fight the next boss. Side-jobs will have players picking up garbage and rescuing cats, and killing missions will have you repeatedly visiting recurring locations to kill the same baddies. If this wasnít enough, players also can also take their skills to other missions that minimize your health to one hit. These particular missions would be fun if you can simply retry, but instead Suda 51 and crew make you traverse back to K-Entertainment and back again to replay. Along with this oversight, these jobs and missions are intertwined with the awful overworld and downright wonky camera.

Nevertheless, not is all lost. The overworld does present other forms of interaction, as players can work out at the gym, buy weapon upgrades at Doctor Naomiís shop, or buy some new threads at Area 51. The clothing options are humorous and quirky, while Naomiís shop left more to be desired. Beam katana upgrades are available, but it would have been nice to change the color of the beam or have more options that changed the fighting style of Travis. Overall, the game shines the most during boss fights and stages and staggers when navigating around Santa Destroy.




Many games become constrained and overridden by technical flaws and design problems, but No More Heroes breaks through with a cast of characters and story that exudes style and imagination. Players will not encounter another title like this, even on another platform, this year. For hardcore gamers crying out for a mature title on Wii, this is it. Heads will be decapitated. Pop culture will be mocked. The pixels of the past will reappear. And suggestive uses of the Wii-mote will be explored. Players, you may be annoyed with the slower parts of the game, but this title is filled to the brim with enough humor and quirkiness to keep you playing till the end.

final score 7.6/10

Staff Avatar Evan Campbell
Staff Profile | Email
"Real men don't fight ó they sing!"

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