If you're like me, you've given up on the Wii as a serious console. When the Wii was first released, everyone stood in awe of the new gaming experience that WiiSports had to offer. It was a must-have console, and everyone eagerly awaited for a title as addictive, innovative, and immersive as WiiSports.
A few years later, we've come to realize that WiiSports was probably the best game that would ever grace the new console. Most games in the Wii's lineup fall into one of 3 categories: A DS re-release, a family-friendly game, or shovelware that could be found for free at AddictingGames.com. However, every once in a while, a title will come along that not only uses the Wiimote as intelligently as WiiSports, but follows it up with gameplay and story as satisfying as any XBox360 or PS3 title.
One of those games is "NO MORE HEROES"
Now, you've either heard the rave reviews about this game, or you've heard nothing at all. For some reason, there is virtually no grey area with this game, which is probably why its already considered a "cult classic" among some. It wasn't heavily marketed, and it wasn't very family-friendly, so it kind of snuck underneath the radar of everyone who wasn't really looking for it.
Now, I won't lie, this game isn't for everyone. This game is pretty much for gamers only. You don't need to be a frothy-mouthed Halo/Counter-Strike/Wow hardcore "Games are my Life" kind of gamer, but at least more than a "casual" player. There isn't much in terms of a tutorial, and there's fistfulls of unexplained bonuses and powerups that are never explained, but are rather so stereotypical in presentation that your average gamer can pick them up on the fly.
The storyline of No More Heroes is as video-game-ish as they come, and it makes no effort to hide this fact, as it's frequently breaks the "4th wall." The main character, Travis Touchdown, is a typical trenchcoat wearing, spiky-haired, anime-loving young adult, who won a lightsaber via a 'net auction, and decides to become an assassin. He meets the typical video game female interest - a foreign chick who always wears next to nothing, constantly flaunting her endowments - and finds himself on a quest to take out the top 10 ranked assassins in his hometown of Santa Destroy, for no reason other than to score a date with said love interest.
The cinematics, voice acting, and storyline are intentionally as stereotypical and "Japanese" as possible. This would usually be a reason to give a game a bad rating, but No More Heroes pulls it off with perfection though the intelligent use of humor and self-mockery. The best way I could describe it would be to compare it the Mel Brooks movie "Spaceballs" - it has all the elements of a "typical" video game, and plays them out exactly as one would expect, but still manages to create something unique.
The controls, however, are what really bring the experience to life. If you take the time to play a handful of the non-family oriented games for the Wii, you will find that almost all of them fail to use the Wiimote in a truely logical way. None of the Wiimote wiggiling or pointing ever seems to make sense. It always seems like the logic behind certain controls are "Well, it's there, so we might as well use it."
In fact, 9 out of 10 times, the incorporation of Wiimote jiggling acts more as a frustrating detriment to a player's ability to immerse themselves in the game. We all learned very quickly from WiiSports Golf that the Wiimote SUCKS at detecting any movement that isn't as violent and specific as the roll of a bowling ball, the wack of a tennis racket, or the swing of a baseball bat. Quick directional flicks, twists, or turns are only correctly detected about half of the time, making the Wii versions of multi-platform games twice as frustrating (and thus half as enjoyable) as their XBox360 or PS3 counterparts.
Well, this is not the case with No More Heroes. The combat is about half as demanding, and twice as much fun, as the Dynasty Warriors series. Mash 'A' to unleash a vicious combo. Hold 'A' to unleash a ground-shaking power attack. Press 'B' to stun & grab. Stand still to block. After beating the snot out of someone, the game will go into slow-mo and ask you to swing the Wiimote in a particular direction. If you do so correctly, you will execute an Earth-shattering final blow that sends limbs flying into oblivion on massive fountains of blood, Kill Bill style. Or, you can stun the person and grab them, at which point you are asked to swing both the Wiimote and Nunchuk in particular directions in order to execute eleaborate wresting suplexes, throws, and slams.
This is where No More Heroes really shines. In most games, when you're locked in the heat of combat and the game suddenly asks you to fling the Wiimote in a direction, you tend to wind-up before swinging. You know what I mean - the game asks you swing to the left, so you wind up by swinging the Wiimote to the right before hurling it with all your might to the left. Well, most games will detect this wind-up, assume you've swung it in the wrong direction, and penalize you. You'll be glad to hear that No More Heroes is NOT that dumb.
When asked to do a kill move, the game slows down... a LOT. You seriously have about 5 seconds to react, and if you mess up, it doesn't care. Some of the wrestling throws are very complex, sometimes consiting of up to 3 different motions of both the Wiimote and the Nunchuk. If it takes you 4 or more attempts to get each portion of the grab to register, there's no penalty for it. The game has a very forgiving "If at first you don't succeed, try, ry again" mentality, instead of the"If at first you don't succeed, you fail" mentality that plagues so many of the games on the Wii.
And the best part is, the game doesn't patronize, either. In other words, if it tells you swing up, and you swing right, it won't accept it. Most gamers know by now that WiiSports can be played while sitting, with minimal hand movements, because the inputs are so sensitive they'll accept pretty much anything. Not the case with this game. You need to get into the action, or stop playing. If it asks you to swing to the left, you will need to swing to the left, plain and simple... no rush, though
Despite its monotony on the surface, the game knows when it's getting tedious, and knows exactly how and when to provide a little variation. The in-between missions offer something other than slaughter, there's a whole "Grand Theft Auto" style free-world where you can do scavenger hunts for bonus content, old-school mini games that can be played in Travis' apartment, and the occasional mid-battle bonus that offers momentary abilities ranging from shooting explosive projectiles, to becoming a brutal one-hit-kill machine.
Everything about this game is expertly over the top: the storyline, the graphics, the weapons, the dialog, the combat, and most of all the blood and gore. Seriously - this game is a bloodbath in such a rediculous fasion that I think on a scale of 1 to 10 it wraps all the way around and ends up somwhere around a 3 or 4. Remember the restaurant scene in Kill Bill? Remember all the limbs flying off, and the gallons of blood spraying everywhere? Remember showing that movie to people who get squeemish around blood and gore, and how they just laughed when they saw it? Well, if you double the dismemberment, blood, and gore, you'll be close to the level of No More Heroes.
The replay value of this game is immesurable. Beat the game on easy, and you get to take all your top-notch weaponry and bonuses to normal mode, where a brand new loadout of bonuses await you. And unlike most games where increasing the difficulty only makes the enemies stronger, in No More Heroes, the ememies just get "smarter." The guys you mowed through the first time through will still get mowed through just the same on a harder difficulty, only now they won't line up like lambs to the slaughter. A tiny detail, I know, but it adds IMMENSELY to the replay value. Hacking through hordes of cannon fodder baddies is only fun for so long. If you just give them more life, then all I'm going to do is spend more time hacking away at them, and thus it'll become less fun much faster. However, if you just make their inital defense a little harder to get through, I'll get the little extra challange I was looking for, yet still get to endulge in the satisfaction of ripping through grunts like an angry tornado.
For the initial retail price of $50, I would say this game was definately worth the money, but only if you were a gamer. Nowadays, however, an new copy of the game is virtually impossible to find. On top of that, it didn't sell very well upon release, so not many copies were produced. This all adds up to a situation that works both for and against you. The bad news is, almost everyone was satisfied with their purchase, so the few copies that are out there are in hands that aren't very eager to let them go. The good news is, that if you do manage to stumble across a copy of this game, the pricetag will be in the "Bargain Bin" range.
On the bargain bin scale, I rate this game 10/10 for gamers, 7/10 for the more casual gamer. If you're a self-respecting gamer to any degree, you will not be unsatisfied with this game. In fact, you may very well find yourself hard pressed to put the controller down, staying up until sunrise, futiley telling yourself that after just 'one more mission' you'll go to bed. If you're just a casual gamer, you'll probably find yourself playing the game for at least an hour every day until you beat it. It'll join the ranks of those "once a year" games. You know the kind I mean. Like Katamari Damacy or Dynasty Warriors. One of those games that you play religously for one week out of a year before returning it to the shelf, only to repeat the cycle 365 days later. Unquestionably fun and undenyably addictive.
Now stop reading and start buying.