danieljw's No More Heroes (Wii) review

No More Heroes

No More Heroes is what you'd likely call one of the more "hardcore" Wii titles. However that term warrants much less meaning for me these days as any game that isn't a mini-game collection seems to earn the "hardcore" prefix. Hardcore bullshit aside, this is a fun game. But there are so many problems with the game play and flow that I would feel uncomfortable just saying buy it. 
 

He's our man! 
Our charmingly suave protagonist Travis Touchdown is your ordinary guy. He could be you or I, if you or I had won a beam katana in an online auction. After meeting the mysterious Sylvia in a bar one night, Travis is roped into the UAA Assassination League. The rules of the league are simple, kill the assassin ranked above you, and you move up. You can kill at any time, and be killed at any time.  
 
The game's main hub is your cluttered up room within the No More Heroes Motel. Here you'll find a closet for a surprising amount of clothing options, your cat Jeane, the toilet for saving in, and many other such pleasantries. After leaving your hovel you'll stumble out into the bright open-world of Santa Destroy. Below you in the parking lot is your trusty motorcycle. This is your primary means of traversing the city, which poses problem number one. 
  
Travel is a generally a pain. The controls are clunky at best, and often wildly unpredictable. While travelling at full speed, you can tap the B button to make a sharp brake turn. However using this will only allow you to turn left. Thus, if you wish to keep up your speed and make a quick turn to the right, you'll need to do this three times.  
 
Most items in the world will fall over when you hit them on your bike, but it is often hard to distinguish what will toss you off your bike, triggering the "get up" animation for an excruciating amount of time, or what will topple in your path. A large coconut tree will be bested by your motorcycle, whereas a small fence will stop you dead in your tracks.  
 
Essentially what you'll do in this over world is earn money. Each ranked assassin battle requires an entry fee. Early on in the game this isn't a big deal, as the fee remains fairly low and easy to obtain, thus limiting your time outside of the ranked battles progressing the story. However my main issue with this game is achieving your money goals later on.  
 
Naomi. This fine young lady will sell you the newest weaponry. 
Assuming you want to do your training to increase your effectiveness in battle, and buy the newest weapon to help you dish out more damage, you'll often find yourself broke after each ranked match. Your training and purchasing of weapons isn't a requirement, but it certainly makes the game easier. When you reach the higher ranks, the entry fee because painfully hard to acquire around the 400,000 LB mark.  
 
Each part-time job you can partake in, while often varied and fun, takes three minutes, and on average will net you about 40,000 LB. This means if you solely want to work on jobs, youre looking at 30 minutes to buy the next story progression. Not counting travel time, which plays a large part.  
 
There are a total of nine jobs, each different from the last. These seem fun at the beginning, it's a nice switch up from the combat, but like so many other things in this game, suffers over time. As you grind through several jobs to work your way to the next ranked match, you'll find yourself simply choosing the one you can grab the most cash in every single time. 
 
Aside from these jobs you can partake in free kill missions. These take far more travel time, as you have to pick up the job at the Assassination Headquarters, which is far away from any of the missions. The same must be done for part time jobs, you pick them up from the Job Center, but at least the Job Center is close by many jobs.  
 
The free kill missions will net you a fair sum of money, but are far more tedious than the part time jobs. Slashing your way through 100 enemies, or slashing your way through countless enemies to reach a target, is immensely tiring. While these jobs are a good source of cash, you'll likely find them frustrating. One style of free kill mission is available as you wander about, and these require you to take out all the enemies without taking a hit.  
 
    These are often tempting jobs to take, as you can pick them up on the fly, unlike the other jobs. Let me stress this. I found nothing in this game more enraging than these missions. Often you'll think you've killed them all, only to have the
 Fairly typical combat scene.
last one in the group punch you in the back, meaning you gain no money, and lose all the time you spent killing the others. Often a random enemy with a gun will spawn, and simply shoot you while your fighting many others. To sum these missions up, they suck. They serve no purpose but to infuriate the player.  
 
Beyond all these negatives, I found this game oddly compelling and fun. The characters are wacky and likable, the combat is satisfying, and the story is brilliantly humorous and intelligent.  
 
Combat is executed via the A and B buttons. The A button will preform sword combos, whereas the B button will perform wrestling moves. Motion controls are only used in battles for finishing moves. A sword finishing move will ask you to swing the Wii remote in the direction shown to slice the enemy. A wrestling finisher will be a suplex of some sort, usually requiring you to lift the Wii remote and nunchuck upwards. This is a smart use of motion controls, and really makes the combat enjoyable. When killing an enemy you'll have a random chance of activating power-ups, which can cause anything from bigger sword combos, to two hit kills, to "Dark Side Mode", where you press the indicated button to perform a stylish execution. 
  
The overall aesthetic of the game is pleasing. The cell shaded art looks great, and the environments around you are unique and fun to explore. Throughout the ranked matches, you'll find trading cards which serve as the games collectible. Withing Santa Destroy, there are Lokitov Balls, which can be traded to a drunken Russian for special techniques.  
 
Without giving anything away, I'll say the story is fantastic. The characters are so fun and insane that you want to know what happens next, despite the frustrating grind in between each story mission. In retrospect, it's amazing that I put up with so many shortcomings in between missions just to see the story progress. 
 
All in all, No More Heroes is a fun game. That's simply it. Though it has many issues, you'll likely find something about the game you love. Whether you find your love in the story, the combat, or the overall humor of the game, it'll likely be enough to allow you to see past the problems. It'd be nice to say the issues aren't significant, but they are, and they rend the games overall potential fairly largely. But chances are, if you find yourself at all interested in this game, you'll have fun with it. 
 

 Welcome to Santa Destroy.
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