Developed By: Grasshopper Manufacture (Original), Engine Software (Port) Published By: Marvelous (Xseed) Categories: Action, Job Simulator Release Date: 10.29.20 Composer: Masafumi Takada
Back when it came out in 2008 in the US, No More Heroes was seen as a bit of an outsider for the Wii. It was violent, it was raunchy, there was swearing everywhere. A far cry from the family friendly image Nintendo once again received around that that time. No More Heroes was the next big title to be directed by cult director Suda 51, who previously gained attention three years prior for killer7, a game equally as mature, for Nintendo’s cube with a handle. Only a few years later, the game would get a remaster or remake for PS3 and Xbox 360 as No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise, which has a very mixed opinion with fans and critics compared to the original. Nearly 13 years after it’s Wii release, it finally gets a proper HD port for the Nintendo Switch.
In No More Heroes, you control Travis Touchdown, an otaku, a wrestling geek, a cat owner. Travis gets roped into joining a league of assassins, each ranked, going to the top, all in a quest to bed a woman he met in a bar after buying a lightsa-beam katana in an online auction. The story does go down the path of Travis facing his own existential crisis and has a twist or two at the end I won’t spoil. Each of these assassins are your boss fights in the game, outside of the very first, who was actually shown off in the game’s reveal trailer back when it was called Project Heroes. The game excels when it comes to the bosses, or rather it’s characters and writing period. The game has incredibly creative designs from Speed Grapher and Fire Emblem Awakening artist Yusuke Kozaki. Each of the bosses, main characters, even mostly insignificant characters you’ll find in shops have memorable designs. Just describing each boss’ looks doesn’t do justice to them, as a description would usually only over simplify why they work. It doesn’t hurt either, that the character models themselves are fantastic, and the jump to HD just shows off how well they aged. The soundtrack from Masafumi Takada; who at the time would be known for their work on killer7, God Hand, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is another home run for the game. While the game does use a leitmotif for going through stages, the boss themes are all unique, with Doctor Peace’ in particular being my favorite. It should be said however, that the song Heavenly Star from Genki Rockets, which was features quite frequently in the Wii game is no longer in the game due to it being a licensed song.
For gameplay, No More Heroes is both an action game, and a menial task simulator. When you’re actually on your way to fight one of the higher ranking assassins, you’ll go through a linear stage, full of mook enemies, eventually leading to the shining star of the game, the boss fights. Just fighting the normal enemies is a good enough situation, it’s competent. Boss fights however, are against those creative designs, are challenging, and in my opinion are an example of what boss fights should be in a game. It’s not even as if the game forces new abilities on you and the bosses are just using the ability, they’re a test of skill. However, when you’re not doing this, you’re driving around town, doing the random odd job, collecting a variety of things. See, each ranked fight requires an entry fee, which if you don’t have enough money after the previous fight requires you to earn it. You’ll do this by either finding it in dumpsters, undeground, doing short assassination missions, or by doing jobs around town like mowing lawns, collecting scorpions, stunt driving over a ramp, and so on. None of these jobs are very fun, nor do you really make much money doing them, but that’s the point and you’ll need to do these to unlock the more rewarding assassination missions. To get to these, you’ll be driving your motorcycle; Schpeltiger around the rather empty, but surprisingly detailed, fictional near the border city of Santa Destroy. Santa Destroy might be a bit too big for it’s own good at times, and while it is incredibly immersive to drive to where you’ll be going for the story or side missions, when grinding for money with side missions, it can get old and repetitive having to drive to the places to open this missions, having to drive to the mission, having to drive back back to open it again, etc… Luckily, you no longer have to do this if you fail, you can just retry, unlike the Wii version.
You can upgrade Travis’ stats by going to the gym, which is a set of QTEs, none of them really that hard, but one requires mashing of the A Button and can get a bit tough later in the game. Collecting these Lovikov Balls you find in town can be exchanged for a drunk for a variety of abilities, with the dash being a must have due to how slow Travis can walk, especially in the overworld. You can purchase new Beam Katanas and upgrade part as the story progresses, which change how you play with speeds, strengths, even having a super strong katana that has a terrible battery life, requiring a recharge much more often. This isn’t exactly gameplay related, but a touch I love, the game allows you to change Travis’ clothes. Don’t like the clothes he has on, just find or buy new sets. Everything but his shoes can be changed. His glasses, jacket, shirt, pants, belt. Wear the burger shirt, go on. Masks and Cards can be found on your way to fight the ranked assassins, masks giving new wrestling moves, suplexes right before a boss. The cards start as a collection of info on masks, but soon become concept art, which is incredibly up my alley. I love when games have a concept art gallery or model viewer.
No More Heroes was a Wii game, so it did have motion controls. It still does with this port, but you can also use a standard control scheme, which was first introduced in the game’s sequel. I decided to do my playthrough with these standard controls, but my muscle memory for the original motion controls was hard to shake off. At least the improved framerate, which is now a solid 60fps makes everything feel more responsive when you do get the hang of the new controls. From the overworld no longer stuttering, to movement and attacks just flowing so much better. I’d say the jump in framerate doesn’t benefit this game as much as say…the sequel, but it’s a nice improvement.
No More Heroes might have been a bit of a slow burn at the start and has the tendency to waste your time, but is so full of character and memorable aspects, it entirely makes up or the small flaws it had on the Wii, and even if few, small fixes in the port are great appreciated.
Buy Now: $19.99
*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes