My Top 5 Games of 2008: #5 No More Heroes (Wii)

Developed: Grasshopper Manufacture
Published: Ubisoft
Genre: Third Person Action
Platform: Wii(reviewed), PS3

I was a huge fan of Grasshopper Manufacture's Killer7 so I came into No More Heroes expecting an absolutely amazing experience. While it didn't quite live up to my sky high expectations, it still wowed me in a lot of ways. It's a much more lighthearted, comedic game than the utterly abstract Killer7 so it disappointed me a bit in that department, but if you go into it without any expectations you'll find a hilarious take on modern brawlers.

This is our protagonist, Travis. What a charming young man.
In No More Heroes you play as Travis Touchdown, who I suppose is how Japan thinks American geeks look. Travis is a big fan of anime, video games, wrestling, sci-fi movies, etc. so one day he wins a supposedly authentic lightsaber(called a beam katana for copyright reasons I guess) in an online auction and what do you know, it works! He realizes he's pretty good with it too so he decides to climb the ranks in a league of assassins known as the UAA. Starting at rank 11, he must kill the 10 higher ranked assassins to be number 1.
You save by using the toilet. Classy.
Before you can fight any of the assassins though you have to earn enough money through odd jobs to pay the entry fee for each fight, which is probably the worst part of the game because the jobs aren't all that well programmed and the entry fees only get higher as the game progresses. There are assassination jobs that open up later in the game though which are a much more entertaining way to make money. Once you pay your entry fee you head to the ranked assassin's hideout and fight your way through an army of goons before you can face them.

I have to applaud Grasshopper on one thing here. You attack by tapping the A button rather than waving the Wii remote like most games would have you do, and thank God for that because the number of goons you have to kill in each area is ridiculous. The only gestures you have to make are when you use special moves, finish enemies off, and the hilarious jerk off motion you have to make to recharge his beam katana when it gets low on energy. I'm serious, look:
Just hold on loosely, but don't let go. If you cling too tightly, you're gonna lose control.
So after you fight through all their goons, you face the ranked assassins their selves in some crazy boss fights. Some of the stranger ones include Destroyman, a super hero who shoots lasers out of his giant codpiece, Holly Summers, A one legged supermodel who's prosthetic leg has a missile launcher in it, and Speed Buster, an old woman who fires an enormous laser out of a shopping cart(and I mean enormous. Like screen filling enormous). The bosses have a ton of health so fights can go on for a good while, but most of the bosses have a good number of attacks so it never quite gets boring.

The music and sound effects are good but they can get repetitive. The game's theme song plays on most of the levels so you'll hear it a lot but its a pretty catchy song at least and each boss has their own theme song. Enemy dialogue was one thing that could have used some more work. I swear half the enemies who die yell out "MY SPLEEN". I guess that's part of the joke but it gets tiring. The voice acting for Travis and the other assassins is great though. Travis' voice is especially fitting for his character, sounding geeky and tough at the same time.
Aww, Travis is really a nice guy at heart.
For a Wii game, it looks quite good, though not as nice as say Super Mario Galaxy or Super Smash Bros Brawl but it has a nice cel shaded look. Characters look a lot better than environments but that seems to happen with many games. One thing that the game does very well are the character designs. Travis and the other assassins all have memorable designs and each has a very unique look to them. Of course this is by the developer of Killer7 (hmm that's the third time I've mentioned that game. I wonder if it'll be in one of my top 5s) and anyone who played that game knows how crazy and varied the characters are.
Oh dear lord! Forget that last caption. Did I mention this is a rather violent game?
No More Heroes is on a short list of games that prove the Wii is more than just boring mini game collections and shovelware. It makes smart use of the system's motion controls without overusing them and boasts a lengthy campaign well worth the price of admission. There's also numerous mini games and side missions on top of that. Far too few Wii games can claim this. The game was also recently made available on PS3 with Move controls(also on 360 but in japan only for whatever reason) and you have the option to play with a normal PS3 controller if motion controls aren't your thing. I haven't played the PS3 version but I've heard it has some frame rate issues that weren't present in the Wii version so keep that in mind. All that really needs to be said is this: if you're a fan of comically over the top violent humor then No More Heroes was made for you.
Apparently you can block a lightsaber with a freaking shovel.

#4 in my top 5 games of 2008
The end of an old soldier's long fight.

I'll leave you with probably the most hilariously out of place song in the game, The virgin child makes her wish without feeling anything, sung by the second boss before you fight him, courtesy of YouTube user luisveny:

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