Game 66: No More Heroes

Posted: July 3, 2011 by mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , ,

Game 772/1001 according to the list

Genre: Action/Fighting
Platform: Wii
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment (JP), Rising Star Games (EU), Ubisoft (NA)

When it comes to RPGs there is defining difference between those produced in the East and those from the West (as can be seen in our posts about Final Fantasy IX and Baldur’s Gate 2). This can also be seen in the world of free-roamers and the fact that we in the West produce games in this vein which are generally better reviewed even though far more are made.

What’s interesting is that No More Heroes is essentially an attempt to bring the Western free-roaming game to Japan whilst combining the two cultures in a number of ways… sounds like a cool experiment don’t it?

Our Thoughts

Considering this was a Japanese attempt to marry Eastern and Western gaming culture, how well do you think the makers of No More Heroes did in achieving this goal? It’s an interesting choice, and the places where some of these parts came from are fairly obvious. While this game owes a lot to GTA in design, it contains a love of repetition (in a sense) often seen in Eastern games, more often their MMORPGs. Not to mention the main characters love of anime… and wrestling. In a way they tried to create a Californian-style otaku who is able to wield a light-sabre style weapon. It’s slightly strange how he appears to live in a motel and yet has a cat and a shelf containing all his figurines of anime girls. It’s like something out of anime series such as Chaos;Head and Genshiken.

All this, together with his appearance, do make him feel Japanese, and the art direction pushes the game in that direction as well. Yes, the whole look of the game is incredibly stylised. It brings to mind the graphics of games such as Okami, Viewtiful Joe and Street Fighter IV.

It’s a great look but there are times where, due to the shading of both the main character and the surroundings, it is hard to distinguish where you are since they can blend into each other. Sometimes the colour palette is not the best choice but it works well most of the time. It’s just the times where it doesn’t work is when enemies are attacking you with guns and baseballs also when the fights take place in dark environments, where you can’t see the enemies three feet away.

Luckily the game has auto-targeting, but it makes gameplay confusing – is an enemy remaining or not, and where are they? The targeting is a great part of the fighting system, especially since it allows more accurate dodging of attacks.

Now that we’re on it… we really need to make a big deal of the fighting system. This is the main thing to recommend No More Heroes since it makes such great use of the Wii Controller and Nunchuk that it can feel like you are there hacking and slashing with him.  Making you wonder how any ports of this game would have worked. In terms of ports it was released over hear on the PS3 with Move compatibility (which makes sense) but how the Japanese-exclusive Xbox 360 version worked is anyone’s guess.

While not fully requiring you to slash the nunchuk (button mashing remains useful), big finishing and high damage moves require you to slash the katana or nunchuk in different directions, while blocking, at times, require you to shake the controller to push back. Since the fighting system makes such great use of the controllers there are times where it is best to stand up in order to complete the task.

Also, as we’re on the idea of “completing the task” a small mention has to be made of how you recharge the battery on your katana. Yeah, because this involves a physical action where, to put it nicely, you polish your katana. You hold the controller and move your hands up and down. On screen your character joins you, hands in front of him, katana extending from his crotch, as he moves his hands up and down. And yeah, there are special sounds when you… fill your battery. All in the absence of his beloved Japanese love pillow (yes, I think I spied one of those in a cut-scene). Oh, it’s not just the love pillow. He also hands in the wrong video or DVD he rented. This time of… a certain man… humping his pillow. I might have spotted a camera in a cut scene too.

I just feel sorry for his cat. No matter how much you pet it… it’s probably so traumatised that any show of affection is an exercise in futility. And no, this time it’s not a euphemism. Nor is there any other point for the cat, it’s just there to be nice to.

On that note, it’s worth mentioning one more ‘feature’ of the game. You save by using the toilet. Our hero sits down, idling, while you make the choice to save and so on. The toilet even looks different depending on the save point you’re at.

 

 

Another major criticism of this game is how repetitive it gets. I mean its phone call, train in the gym, raise money collecting coconuts, mowing lawns and fights then take on one of the ten assassins. It’s almost as bad as the first Assassin’s Creed game in that respect. What doesn’t help is that while the main comparison here seems to be the later GTA games, it looks that way, it tries to do the racing, but it misses out a lot of it too that would’ve been nice to have. Despite there being no more heroes, you can’t be evil either. You do some missions, some of which have their violence in nicely contained areas, and yeah, some assassins change you, but there’s no potential for random violence or any other fun in the large free roaming world. The world is really just for moving from one place to the other – from icon to icon – and as free roaming as it might seem, it’s just scenery without much point to it, unless you like driving around randomly and look for some ‘hidden’ balls.

We seem overly critical for a game that we are very likely to buy for ourselves. In the end though there is a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it very likable. It’s a somewhat non-linear fighter with some nice additional feature, rather than the sandbox games some play this up to be. And as a fighter, it’s extremely good fun.

Final Thoughts

This is the first game that we have covered where I am almost completely sure it will be replaced on the next incarnation of the list. This is not due to any inherent fault with this game (as you can probably tell it was one we really enjoyed) but because it’s sequel was released just after they probably started making this list and it was apparently an improvement on the original. Part of me is looking forward to the new list since it will mean a chance to play a whole new heap of games… but it will mean that a large number of games already covered will be removed… ah well even more of an excuse to continue gaming.

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Comments
  1. […] gimmicky at times, they’re still better than the ewww-factor implicit in the Wiimote use in No More Heroes. Even if there is a half-naked man in the top-right hand corner of the screen shaking the Wiimote […]

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