Game Review

No More Heroes Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Otaku assassin Travis Touchdown finally lands on European shores - has the wait been worthwhile?

When you fire up a game and see that the loading screen proudly proclaims that ‘Punk’s not dead’, you know you’re in for something of an unorthodox experience. The enigmatic Suda 51 and his team at Grasshopper Manufacture are arguably one of the most offbeat development studios currently operating in the industry today; the company’s previous title, Killer 7, managed to divide opinion amongst critics and consumers alike, but then that is often the fate of truly revolutionary pieces of entertainment.

No More Heroes isn’t a direct sequel to Killer 7 but the two games share many stylistic features; the heavily shadowed, cel-shaded visuals and the concept of killing people, for example. The plot centers on likeable loser Travis Touchdown, who, after a chance meeting with a sultry French temptress decides to become the world’s number one assassin. Starting off in lowly eleventh place, Travis must ascend the ranks of the murderous elite by picking them off one by one. Participating in such nefarious activity doesn’t come cheap as a price is charged to arrange each face-off, so in-between fights Travis has to earn cash by performing menial tasks such as collecting coconuts or mowing lawns.

When early shots of the game were released, much attention was given to Travis’ weapon of choice – a rather awesome looking beam sword, which clearly takes a large amount of inspiration from Star Wars. Given the motion-sensing nature of the host hardware, many jumped to the conclusion that No More Heroes would allow you to swing this compelling piece of weaponry around, but sadly that isn’t the case. Control in No More Heroes is actually quite straightforward; hacking and slashing is performed by simply pressing A, stuns and throws are assigned to B and movement is governed by the Nunchuk’s analogue stick.

That’s not to say that Grasshopper has completely ignored the potential of the Wii’s control system; for example, Travis’ sword often requires recharging and this is achieved by frantically shaking the Wiimote from side to side. Also, when throws and grapple moves are activated, the player is called to copy the on-screen command in order to complete the bone-crunching attack. During regular combat the player must thrust the Wiimote in a certain direction to execute finishing moves on hapless enemies.

Some may be disappointed that Grasshopper didn’t go the whole hog and put motion-sensitive swordplay into the game, but in all honesty the system the company has crafted is perfect; the sheer amount of combat with in the game would make your arm ache after only a few minutes play if you had to swing the controller for each sword slash. By saving gesture commands for key moments, Grasshopper has actually managed to keep the appeal of motion-sensitive control intact, and swinging the Wiimote to perform killer moves feels incredibly invigorating.

Which is fortunate, because there’s an awful lot of fighting in No More Heroes. Each encounter with a rival assassin is preceded by several minutes of combat with all manner of underlings and henchmen, most of which look identical to each other. The format of the game doesn’t change a great deal in this respect, and it’s a testament to the robust nature of the battle system that it never gets fatally repetitive. Little embellishments like the slot machine randomizer (which is activated whenever you perform a finishing move on a foe and arbitrarily dishes out time-limited special attack options) help to keep things fresh and interesting during the long trek to the top of the assassin league table.

Graphically No More Heroes is both a positive and negative advert for the capabilities of the Wii. In many scenes it looks glorious and each character is positively dripping with style. Travis himself is a particularly appealing lead, despite his often-crass dialogue. Sadly, there are too many moments when the graphic engine starts to shudder and misfire; large-scale battles are plagued with unfortunate slowdown and all the in-game objects have off-putting jagged edges. Playing this on a HD TV isn’t always a pleasant experience, especially if you’re used to the rather more refined imagery generated by next-gen rivals like the 360 and PS3. As has been reported previously, the PAL version lacks the torrents of blood found in its American counterpart, and falls in line with the similarly gore-free Japanese release. Enemies explode in a shower of dust here, which seems perfectly natural in the gloriously frenzied world of No More Heroes.

In spite of all this, No More Heroes remains an artistic triumph. It’s hard to recall a game that is as well put together; every screen, every transition, every pixel of the display – it’s all be thoroughly well thought out from a design perspective. Hell, it feels like more care and attention has been lavished on the ‘pause’ screen than is granted to the entire interface of many other titles. It’s also one of the most amusing games we’ve played in a while, and is packed with fan-service for anyone who considers themselves to be a videogamer. Random, NES-like beeps accompany the on-screen action and whenever Travis takes out a rival assassin, his progress is shown via an archaic, Space Invaders-style high score table, replete with authentic music. The unique nature of the Wii is also embraced in wholly original ways; for example, when Travis receives a phone call in-game, you have to hold the Wiimote up to your head as you would a regular phone, and the conversation is then piped through the Wiimote’s tiny speaker – a really neat touch.


No More Heroes certainly isn’t perfect; the tasks you’re given in-between missions are dull (calling to mind the same boredom experienced when you had to get a job in Sega’s Shenmue), the Grant Theft Auto-style driving sections border on the pointless (we can only assume they’re intended to be a thinly-veiled dig at the successful franchise) and the general gameplay doesn’t actually change during any of the assassination missions. But regardless of these points, it still entertains in a way that few other games can manage. It’s a chaotic riot packed with gleeful videogame references, over the top dialogue and some seriously awesome-looking combat action.

A far more accessible proposition than Killer 7 ever was, No More Heroes is so wonderfully amusing that it’s easy to forgive its minor shortcomings; Suda 51’s latest epic fully deserves to garner the kind of attention and praise that unfortunately seemed to elude its predecessor.

From the web

Game Trailer

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The final video before the European launch of No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle on Friday May 28th

User Comments (17)



robwho2 said:

Started playing this last night and am so far pretty impressed. It's just fun and FEELS like such a cool game. Was already annoyed by the same things you were however - boring sidemissions and the pointless free-roam stuff. The motorbike is pretty cool though, for a few minutes. Even that got boring when I was forced to keep riding about on it for 'bout 10 mins cause I couldn't work out how to get off it. Honestly, the down button?! Who does that ...



MatTheCat said:

I wonder why the reviewer has neglected to mention that the motion-sensing is totally FALSE in this game? This game is being peddled everywhere as being a titale that implements the 'motion sensing'. But it doesn't. Even the game, tells you, SWING RIGHT, SWING UP, SWING NUNCHUK LEFT + REMOTE UP etc etc etc... but in reality, just swing the controllers anywhere you want....same result!

Surely the fact that it seldom matters what way you swing/thrust the remote/nunchuk is a gameplay issue that any sincere and responsible reviewer MUST mention!

However, even though the so-called 'motion sensing' in the game is a cheap sham, the game is still enjoyable (for some reason). But if you are planning on running out and purchasing this game on the grounds of it the 'motion sensing' controls like I did......then be warned......all motion sensing combinations can be performed by a simple waggle or jerk of the remote in any random direction....

Poor effort on the developers part really.



Masterless said:

"many jumped to the conclusion that No More Heroes would allow you to swing this compelling piece of weaponry around, but sadly that isn’t the case. Control in No More Heroes is actually quite straightforward; hacking and slashing is performed by simply pressing A, stuns and throws are assigned to B and movement is governed by the Nunchuk’s analogue stick."

Copied and pasted straight from the review.



Why have I had to register AGAIN just to post this reply???

Who knows...

Masterclass, you miss the point mate.

In the game, you get all sorts of prompts asking you to swing the controllers in all sorts of directions. One such example would be to swing both the nunchuk and the remote upwards to perform a certain wrestling move. The game event ells you which you must swing the controllers to perform this move. COOL YOU THINK? But no, the reality is damn ugly in that you can just swing the controller in any direction you please to get the same end result.

To put it into context, it is like the game asking you to press button 'A' to perform a move, when mashing any old button will do the exact same thing.....

damn it, I have just talked myself into taking this game back for a refund.



Damo said:

MattTheCatt - I've since returned to the game and tried what you say, and although the motion-sensing controls aren't exactly perfect they do at least require you to move the wiimote/nunchuk in the correct direction...I can only assume that when you were flinging your controllers around in random directions the game picked up at least one movement in the correct direction.



hadron3950 said:

i have had this game for over a month and a half now and i'd say that the motion control of your beam katana and wrestling throws is the simplest set up ever. the story line was excellent and the hidden ending was much better than the regualar ending ur supposed to get but thats just me.



MatTheCat said:

I can only conclude.....

That you both must be lying.

No. I have actually started deliberately swinging in opposite directions now. 9/10 times, it works just as good which is just no good! Perhaps, the the thing detects a slight 1-2 cm of movement in the correct direction over a swing which may span 30cm. But the important thing from a gamers point of view, is the dissapointment in realising that a mere waggle of the remote and nunchuk suits all. I think it would be nicer if the game was just honest and told the gamer to thrust the remote in any direction they please, other than swing nunchuk right and thrust remote down etc etc.

Go and play the game mate, first finishing move you get that asks you to swing left, try swinging right instead and see what happens......yup, thats right, finishing move is performed.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy this game but am annoyed at the lazy/rushed beta version that they have released with the audacity of charging £35 for. This game could be sublime, a reason to own a Wii in itself...but instead, its just a cheap but enjoyable mash em up.

I would give 7/10....no more.



Damo said:

Well I can't seem to replicate the issue you're commenting on, every time I've tried the special move gestures I've had to get them right for the move to be performed, but to be honest it's not a game-breaking fault anyway.

Notice that I'm putting my point across without actually calling you a liar...



hadron3950 said:

okay, "MatTheCat," I dont know where that comes from sayin for me to quote " go and play the game." when clearly i stated that i have owned the game for over a month when i first posted my comment that for me the control scheme was fine. obviously there is something wrong with ur wii like u have the sensor bar position opposit or something because whenevr i did any special moves or wreslting moves my game responded perfectly fine so i should be the one concluding that u are the actual liar here.



MatTheCat said:

Well what can I say.......

About 10% of the people who are playing No More Heroes make the exact same comment as i do about the lameness of the motion non-sensing, whilst 90% claim it works perfectly.

My Wii works perfectly well and my motion sensing bar is positioned correctly (and besides, the motion sensing bar is just for the pointer. Oh yes, and my controls respond to every single wrestling move or finishing move that I try....its just that 9/10, it dont matter what I do with my controllers, just so long as I give them a good jerk...Lame.

I know whose opinion I trust.......I just cannot believe so many people are in denial about this horridly lame control issue in the game.



Raptor78 said:

Ive enjoyed my "No more heroes" experience wholeheartedly. The moves work fine for me, but then ive never tried to do them any other way to see if they still work so im quite happy doing my wrestling moves the way they should be even if im just deluding myself into thinking the controls are great.
... as far as the game goes I find the boring jobs only make the pleasure of my killing sprees much sweeter and I find the style of the game fantastic with geeky nods to several classic games and films just in the same way robot chicken and family guy do. The game is far from perfect but a whole lot of fun. I picked this game up at a budget price and probably would have felt let down if I had paid double the price, but the game held a lot more potential that im sure the sequel will be able to fulfil. I suppose my biggest let down is the missing blood in the European version but frm what I gather they plan to release both versions in Europe when they release the sequel in 2010.
Overall I think 8 out of 10 is a good score.



wanderlustwarrior said:

I haven't had any issues with motion control. I've played the game and am a huge fan, but I really do hope that the sequel fares better graphically. I'd like to give credit to the audio, though. The voices are great, the sound effects are hilarious, and the soundtrack is spectacular. If only it was more dominant.



nintendoduffin said:

@ MatTheCat
I bought the game today and have been experiencing the same issue as you, however I don't feel that it detracts from how enjoyable the game is.



Incognito_D said:

Probably deserves a 9, when you take compare it with other games that have received 9s and 10s, but 8 is still a good score so I shouldn't nitpick.
Superior to the sequel in my opinion, but they're both essential Wii games.

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