No More Heroes is a cel-shaded hack-and-slash action adventure title for the Nintendo Wii, created and directed by Goichi Suda (killer7, Clock Tower and Fire Pro Wrestling) and Grasshopper Manufacture. Published by Ubisoft in the United States, No More Heroes is also the most violent game released in 2008 and one of the most violent titles on the Wii.
No More Heroes is primarily a standard hack-and-slash action game. Players will wield the beam katana and take the blade to hundreds of minions, using anything they can get their hands on (from baseball bats to stop signs) to try and fend of Travis and his relentless assaults. Unlike other action games on the Nintendo Wii, No More Heroes doesn't make the player waggle and shake the remote to attack. Instead, No More Heroes maps the katana slash to the A button and a kick attack to the B trigger. Waggle and shake control is instead relegated to a "finishing move", called Death Blow mode, which is necessary to defeat each enemy. Nailing this final swing (not a difficult task, as the game provides players with a good bit of time to nail the attack) will cause Travis to dominate his opponent, usually resulting in decapitation, dismemberment, or worse. Killing enemies earns the player money (as well as the joy of seeing opponents spurt gallons of blood, only to then explode in a final orgy of violence). Presses of the A button will create combo attacks that almost always lead to the motion-controlled finishing blows.
After each kill in Death Blow mode, slots in the corner of the screen start to move. If the slots match up, Travis goes into his Dark Side mode. There are five different types of the Dark Side mode a player can get. Powers include the slowing of time and a giant explosion at the press of a button. When initiated, the player only has a limited amount of time to use the power. The time given is indicated by a tiger in the upper-right side of the screen.
Players can also use the B button to mix up combos and send a kick at opponents. If the kick button is held and charged, Travis' attack will stun the opponent. Once stunned, Travis can execute a deadly wrestling move to finish off his enemies. To nail the wrestling move, players must swing both the Wiimote and the Nunchuk in the direction indicated onscreen. Wrestling moves usually kill opponents but those that survive the attack will remain stunned on the ground. With a quick tap of the A button, Travis can finish off the downed enemy with a quick stab to the chest.
Combat has a few other gimmicks to add a little more depth to the game. In combat, Travis can switch between a high and low stance, depending on where the Wiimote is being held (higher or lower for their respective styles). If Travis is in the same stance as his opponent, then all attacks the player does will be blocked. However, if Travis is in the opposing style, his attacks will land on the enemy. Conversely, if Travis uses his kick attack in the same stance as his opponent, they will automatically become stunned (without having to charge up the kick attack) leaving Travis free to use a wrestling move or land a quick barrage of sword attacks.
Players can also use different special sword attacks (activated by holding the A button) depending on what style Travis is in. If Travis is in the high stance, his charged up sword attack will deal damage to enemies directly in front of him. If Travis is in a low stance, his charged sword attack will damage all enemies to his left and right.
In combat, Travis can quickly dive in a certain direction by pressing the desired direction on the D-pad at the top of the controller and lock onto targets by holding the Z button on the Nunchuk. If the player presses left or right on the analog stick just before a locked on enemy lands a strike, Travis will quickly dodge around the enemy (in the direction the analog stick was pressed). During this moment, time slows down, and Travis can land a number of sword blows or even execute a wrestling move before the opponent recovers. This technique is key in defeating the game's difficult and weird bosses.
While locked on to a target, Travis will automatically block all incoming attacks, provided he isn't moving or using one of his own attacks.
The beam katana, while a powerful weapon, has a short battery life (which can be seen on the bottom right of the game HUD). Blocking attacks and using beam katana attacks will slowly decrease the remaining battery charge on the sword. If the battery meter ever completely runs out, the Beam Katana will shut down.
To recharge the battery on the beam katana, the player must hit the number 1 button on the Wii Remote. Hitting the button will change the perspective on-screen, and the game will tell the player to shake the Wiimote quickly to recharge the power. This doesn't sound particularly interesting on its own (as few players are fans of weapon degradation in any capacity). Shaking the Wiimote, however, will cause Travis to violently jerk his katana up and down, grunting softly under the sound of the rapidly recharging meter (which actually dings once the battery is completely filled). The entire situation, from the way it's seen to the sounds made, make the character Travis seem like he's masturbating.
In No More Heroes, players take control of Travis Touchdown, a wanna-be assassin/wrestler/otaku. After winning a "beam katana" (read: Lightsaber) from an online auction, Travis is pulled into a mysterious assassins' league by the sensual Silvia Christel.
Silvia challenges Travis to become the number one assassin in the world, and to do that, Travis will have to battle an army of minions while killing the ten powerful assassins in his way. Travis will also take on small odd jobs such as mowing lawns, picking up trash, and washing graffiti to earn the cash needed to vie for the top spot in the guild and a night in bed with Silvia herself.
Between the actual assassination missions in the game, No More Heroes lets players wander around the open world of Santa Destroy. Travis can call his motorcycle, called the "Schpeltiger", and drive around Santa Destroy. To obtain the money necessary to set up an assassination match, Travis will have to complete a series of missions.
First, Travis can access a "3rd-Rater" job doing menial labour. These jobs were deliberately designed to be tedious and boring, much as such jobs would be in real life; Travis will pick up coconuts, mow the lawn, wash cars, and, for some insane reason, collect scorpions. All of these job missions try and use the Wiimote in a clever way, but most fail. When mowing lawns, players steer by twisting the Wiimote in their wrists to turn in a different direction. To put a scorpion in a container strapped to Travis's back, the player much lift the Wiimote, as if they were tossing the scorpion over their shoulder.
After completing the initial job, Travis unlocks a series of two assassination missions. These missions have Travis going to a location (usually one the player has already visited) and killing everyone. Certain parameters change one battle from the next (kill a specific character, kill everyone in Travis's Dark Side mode, go through an upside down version of the level with reversed controls) adds some variety to these missions, but it's more or less the same fighting that takes places in the game's main missions. Unfortunately, these missions can get repetitive very quickly. It is hoped that new twists will be added to the Heroes' Paradise remake to spice things up a little.
Between the jobs and the combat missions, Travis can purchase a few things around town. Going to the gym will allow Travis to upgrade his strength, health, and combo length (provided the player successfully completes the waggle-controlled quick time event), while going to Dr. Naomi's store will let players buy new parts for the beam katana, as well as whole new weapons. Travis can buy a selection of jackets, shirts, pants and sunglasses from Area 51 (although they are purely cosmetic changes). Travis can also visit Beef Head Videos to buy video tapes (teaching him new, more powerful wrestling moves). In the Gold Town bar, a drunk Russian man named Randall Lovikov asks you to collect seven Lovikov Balls to give to him. Every seven balls earns Travis a new special skill or move. Each skill is named after the Smith assassins from killer7.
However, between buying clothes and upgrades and completing jobs, there is nothing else to do in the open world. Players won't find the same kind of vehicular thrills seen in the Grand Theft Auto franchise: pedestrians hit by Travis' motorcycle grunt and disappear. Light poles struck will fall down in a very wooden animation. Travis will only pull out his sword in the specific battle sequences, so no pedestrian slaughter can take place in the game. The only things to do are search dumpsters for cash or shirts, and search for Lovikov Balls to give to Lovikov. Because of this, the open world is universally regarded as the low point of the No More Heroes experience.
Alternately, Travis can also return to his motel room at any time and play with his cat, Jeanne.
Meet the Assassins
Rank 11 - Helter Skelter
The UAA's eleventh ranked assassin can be seen battling it out with our protagonist Travis before the story begins. Armed with dual revolvers and blades, Helter Skelter releases some vicious blows on Travis before being swiftly taken down via swift decapitation by our hero's beam Katana.
This cowboy garbed albino got his namesake from the Beatles song of the same name. Whether or not this is his true name isn't known, but he has gone by the nickname "the Drifter".
Rank 10 - Death Metal
Ranked tenth in the UAA, Death Metal is a hardened old assassin who simply wants to be left alone. Death Metal, or Devin Townsend, lives in a large mansion just outside of Santa Destroy. This 55 year old killer has adorned his body with various decorations. From the rhinestones in his face to the elaborate tattoos on his body, the man screams rock and roll.
His large extendable blade can deal massive damage when it connects. During his fight with Travis, he creates two copies of himself that engage in the battle. Although the copies are far weaker than Death Metal himself, three swords beating on Travis is far worse than one.
As Travis amputates both of Death Metals hands, the man gives a touching informational speech about mastering the ways of the assassin before his head is lopped off.
Rank 9 - Dr. Peace
The ninth ranked UAA assassin known as Dr. Peace enjoys singing, gun play, and most of all, killing. Real name Pastel Brankino, Dr. Peace comes armed with his golden voice, and his golden pistols. The 50 year old man is introduced on the pitcher's mound, singing a song written by Suda 51 called " The Virgin Child Makes Her Wish Without Feeling Anything". It is a good thing that Suda's job is making videogames and not writing song titles. Peace explains how he spent the money Travis paid as an entrance fee to the fight, telling of his relationship with his daughter, Jennifer.
Dr. Peace has a vicious charge up shot that Travis has got to dodge to stay alive. He must be wary of his shooting tricks, as his fancy manoeuvres cause a distraction as bullets fly every which way. After receiving a large wound at the hand of Travis, he dies while speaking his daughter's name one last time.
Rank 8 - Shinobu
Shinobu Jacobs, the 18 year old African-American assassin of Santa Destroy High School, is a deadly threat. Her age and beautiful appearance are a suitable distraction from her excellent skill with a sword. With talent far beyond her years, she has become cold blooded and detached after the death of her father. Upon seeing Travis's Beam Katana, she enters a rage, thinking he is her father's killer. However Travis was a student of Shinobu's father. Although they had never met in person, Travis learned all his fighting techniques from the man's series of instructive video tapes.
Shinobu cuts with her sword quickly and lethally. She is quick to parry your attacks and send you flying back with a swift blow. Her specialty move, sonic sword, sends a glowing red blade toward Travis with precision accuracy.
As the fight rages on, Travis is able to rend one of her hands from her body. She pleads for Travis to finish her, but he inexplicably refuses, despite killing her being his reason for being there in the first place. He challenges her to find him and kill him when she grows older. She continues to scream and curse Travis as he exits the room.
Rank 7 - Destroyman
John "Destroyman" Harnet is a 28-year-old mailman. His fighting style and costume are based entirely off of an in-game movie character by the same name. His encounter with Travis begins on a less than honourable note, severely shocking Travis while shaking hands before the fight.
Destroyman has a wide variety of attacks. All very creatively named with the prefix of "Destroy". During the match, Destroyman will rise towards the ceiling, sending electric balls towards you until a glowing node is hit with the Beam Katana. Destroyman will throw many electric based attacks your way throughout the fight, including Destroy Spark, a close range shocking attack, and Destroy Cannon, a large energy beam that sweeps the entire room.
Travis ends the fight with a katana through the chest, he makes Destroyman beg for his life. Upon removing his Beam Katana from him, Destroyman takes one last shot at Travis with the machine guns hidden in his nipples. Unfortunately for the mailman, Travis is not quite in the line of fire. Travis slices him vertically in two before making a dramatic exit.
Rank 6 - Holly Summers
Holly Summers is the sixth ranked assassin of the UAA. She is a Swedish model, dresses in military garb, and has a prosthetic leg. She is found on the beach, and has set several pit traps on the beach to prevent any assassins from reaching her. Travis falls into one of her hole traps before the beginning of the fight, stating that he likes her style, and he wishes to steal a kiss before he steals her life.
Throughout the encounter, Travis has to be wary of the various pitfalls planted at random locations around the beach. Holly fires missiles at Travis as he tries to make his way towards her. If he falls into a pit, Holly quickly throws a grenade down the hole. Travis must climb out before the grenade detonates. When Travis finally reaches Holly, she still has various tricks up her sleeve to separate herself from him. Either a quick sprint across the beach or activating a land mine at her feet to blow Travis and herself apart will put distance between the two again.
As Travis is about to defeat her, he stops. It is revealed here that Travis has an issue with killing women, which is the likely reason for sparing Shinobu. Holly says that when an assassin is defeated, they must die, so she puts a grenade in her mouth and pulls the pin. Travis is shaken by the suicide, and carries her body to her new sandy grave.
Rank 5 - Letz Shake
Letz Shake is a 22 year old punk singer from Singapore. He is found on a large desert highway, standing next to a deadly looking machine with a brain. A dramatic countdown begins as the machine appears to be charging up. Travis makes a mad dash for the machine while the countdown runs, and it appears they will both get off attacks at the same time.
Suddenly, a shadow against the sun descends and chops Letz Shake and his massive machine in two, completing Travis's kill for him. Travis is angered, and asks the name of the rude boy who just stole his kill. The mysterious Irish assassin tells Travis his name is Henry. After some insulting banter from Travis, the two are about to match blades when Sylvia steps in and stops it. Henry disappears when Travis is about to explain what he is doing.
Rank 4 - Harvey Moiseiwitsch Volodarskii
Harvey is a Jewish Russian magician. Sylvia invites Travis along to see one of his shows and kill him afterwards. Harvey and Travis do a short show on stage, featuring Travis escaping from a box underneath a large, slowly downward moving circular saw. Harvey brandishes two-coloured beam katanas, and his mystical powers as weapons.
During the fight, Harvey will take quick slashes at Travis. He will often disappear and reappear at will, creating lots of space between the two duelling assassins. On occasion the game's camera will be flipped upside down by Harvey, causing the player to use inverted controls. He will also teleport Travis into the same box underneath the saw, which must be escaped in order to prevent death.
Travis eventually lands a blinding slice across Harvey's eyes, sending him reeling across the stage without sight. His assistants cuff him to a large stage prop, allowing the saw that nearly killed Travis to disembowel Harvey.
Rank 3 - Speed Buster
The 76 year old Speed City resident is the UAA's third ranked assassin. Travis's master is seen dying at the hand of Speed Buster before Travis's engagement with the assassin begins. As Speed Buster begins to transform her shopping cart into a massive, long barrelled cannon, she distracts Travis by constantly making him repeat himself, claiming she's hard at hearing.
There is a large stretch of land between Speed Buster and Travis, forcing Travis to use the abandoned houses along the sides of the street for cover while the cannon fires large energy blasts. Slowly working his way towards the old woman, he eventually reaches a power pole, which he strikes with his Beam Katana, causing a domino effect of falling poles, eventually hitting and stunning Speed Buster.
Travis quickly slices the cannon's incredibly large barrel in two, rendering it unable to fire. Speed Buster tells Travis he will one day become a good man, and gives him a kiss before her head is taken from her neck. Travis's cat Jeanne is there to witness it all, after escaping from his motel room.
Rank 2 - Bad Girl
The second ranked assassin in the UAA is a 23 year old alcoholic psychopath. She is completely desensitized to killing; her hobby consists of murdering men dressed in sado-masochist gear as they roll down a conveyor belt into her humble abode. Her weapon of choice is a large baseball bat, capable of cracking bone with a single swing. Her innocent appearance is worthy distraction to any assassin. She has the appearance of a small girl, but the attitude of the most jaded old man.
As the fight begins it is a close combat situation with Travis. She beats viciously and swiftly with her bat, dealing huge damage with each connection. From time to time she drops to her knees, faking injury. If Travis approaches her in this state, she will immediately knock him over, and kill him with her bat. After taking a few hits from Travis she makes a dash across the room and begins to hit some fodder from the conveyor belt towards Travis. These gimps flying across the room will cause big damage if they're not dodged.
As the fight progresses Bad Girl will spit alcohol on to her bat, and set it ablaze. Travis really has to stay out of her range now, for being set on fire is never a good thing. Travis manages to run his Beam Katana through her stomach, enraging her further as she tackles him and beats him until she dies. Right before she dies, Travis surrenders. She closes her eyes for the last time, leaving Travis the new number 2 ranked assassin, despite the surrender.
Rank 1 - Dark Star & Jeane
Dark Star is a mysterious man, living in an isolated castle beyond the Bewildering Forest. Travis finds his way with the guidance of his deceased master, Thunder Ryu. Upon reaching the castle, Dark Star Claims to be Travis's true father, asking Travis to call up his deepest memories of when his parents died. Travis realizes that Dark Star is bullshitting him, as he is not really his father, but he does remember that his previously forgotten half-sister, Jeane, is the murderer of his parents.
As this realization comes to be, Jeane arrives, slices Dark Star in two, and engages Travis. She takes the large, dragon like energy whip wielded by Dark Star, and creates a ring around the two combatants. Her lightning fast attacks prove damaging to Travis.
As Travis nears the end of the fight, Jeane punches her fist into Travis's chest, stunning him. When it looks grim for Travis, Shinobu, whom Travis previously spared, appears to remove Jeane's hand from the rest of her body. Travis ends Jeane's life with a couple of quick cuts.
After the final battle with Jeane, the player gets three choices: return to the pointless streets of Santa Destroy, see the ending, or see the real ending.
Travis, relieved that the fighting is over, is "saving" in the bathroom of his motel room. An assassin named Erman Palmer busts through the bathroom door challenging Travis, now the number 1 assassin, to a fight. The game ends with surprised looking Travis and a Stars Wars-like end credits.
The true ending begins almost exactly like the other, but instead of stopping as Erman challenges Travis, he gets cut in half by the mysterious Henry. The assassin is also carrying a book in the true ending, which is cut in half as well. Henry insults Travis, calling him "a disgrace to [himself], and all those [he's] killed," and tells Travis to meet him outside when he's finished 'saving'. The two then battle in the parking lot of the No More Heroes Motel. Once the fight is over, Henry reveals that he is Travis' twin brother. Travis is bewildered by this, but Henry is surprised that Travis and the player didn't figure it out sooner. It is also revealed that Sylvia is Henry's wife of ten years, and that she had no intention of ever sleeping with Travis.
The two continue the conversation while running around Santa Destroy trading blows. Before the final clash is seen, the game disappointingly stops and a Rocky III-esque painting of the two is shown. After the end credits, Sylvia is shown with a young girl looking at the painting. She tells the girl, whose name is Jeane, that it's time to go. Sylvia then taunts the player by expressing awareness of the strangeness of the girl's name and says it's too bad there won't be a sequel.
Pure White Giant Glastonbary
During the path to the fight against the 4th rank assassin, Travis falls asleep on the subway and has a dream of playing a game. The game he dreams about is a top-down scrolling shooter called "Pure White Giant Glastonbary". In the game, the player controls a mech, presumably Glastonbary, fighting various enemies. The game includes one level with a boss fight at the end.
Controls for the game are simple enough. The directional pad controls movement, the 1 button shoots the mech's main gun, the 2 button causes the mech to swing a sword, and A releases a special attack. The player starts off with three lives and has infinite continues. The sword can destroy enemies attacks. Doing so charges up the mech's special, which when released destroys all enemy fire on the screen.
The music of No More Heroes was composed by Masafumi Takada, who also composed many of Grasshopper's other games like Killer7. The complete soundtrack was released in Japan on January 23rd 2008. The soundtrack is out of print and is now considered rare and a collector's item.
- "Beam Katana Chronicles" – 1:47
- "N.M.H." – 5:37
- "Too Much Gorgeous" – 2:48
- "Hell on Bare Feet" – 5:41
- "Fork in the Wall" – 2:33
- "Crash" – 0:05
- "Splash" – 0:04
- "DND (Do Not Destroy)" – 3:57
- "Gorgeous Blues" – 4:13
- "Blaster Nation" – 3:16
- "Walk Like This" – 0:54
- "Oxygen Graffiti" – 4:06
- "Time to Scream" – 0:10
- "Science of Silence" – 0:28
- "Cashmere Cannonball" – 4:47
- "Steel Python" – 2:46
- "Wishful Whistling" – 2:45
- "Heat in your Heart" – 5:16
- "Jackpot" – 0:09
- "Strawberry shortcake" – 0:39
- "Wind Blows, Love Dies" – 0:51
- "Bushido Flow" – 0:31
- "Season of the Samurai" – 9:53
- "Righteous, Triumphant, Et Cetera" – 0:39
- "Warp – 0:07
- "K-ENT." – 2:12
- "Hot Dreams" – 1:54
- "Ten Tons of Titanium" – 4:14
- "Piranhas in the Air" – 5:09
- "Shy Supernova" – 1:52
- "Stop Hanging DJs" – 4:20
- "Hustlin' 'n' Tusslin'" – 3:05
- "Disaster for Sale" – 3:21
- "Sun on the Ceiling" – 2:46
- "Samurai Summer" – 5:23
- "Electromatherapy" – 0:49
- "CHIPSTER DASH" – 1:58
- "GAME OVER" – 0:07
- "LET'S FIGHT A BOSS" – 2:35
- "YOU WIN" – 0:13
- "Blueberry Cheesecake Brownie" – 1:59
- "HISSATSU Jamba" – 0:49
- "Violectrolysis" – 5:08
- "s." – 0:11
- "Heat in your Hand" – 5:15
- "Mach 13 Elephant Explosion" – 4:49
- "Speed with Teeth" – 4:23
- "Pleather for Breakfast" – 4:11
- "Dynamite Rider" – 6:34
- "Walking on Leaves" – 5:28
- "Art of the Past" – 0:35
- "Rocket Surgeon" – 4:50
- "Electric Ladder" – 1:38
- "We Are Finally Cowboys" – 5:22
- "Staff Wars EPISODE I" – 2:31
- "The virgin child makes her wish without feeling anything" – 1:34
- "NO MORE NO MORE HEROES" – 5:21
- "N.M.H." (Action Mix) – 3:44
- "Wide World" – 0:06
- "Get" – 0:09
- "You Suck" – 0:10
- "Bronze" – 0:12
- "Mask Power" – 0:09
- "Silver" – 0:09
- "GET!!" – 0:11
- "Batter up" – 0:07
- "1.000" – 0:09
- "You Rock" – 0:10
- "Gold" – 0:11
- "Energize" – 0:04
On March 14, 2008, No More Heroes Sound Tracks: Dark Side was released. Dark Side is a nine track remix album that includes interpretations of Takada's work by different Japanese artists. These remixes were later used in the sequel No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise is an enhanced version of the game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This version of the game features:
- Cleaner HD graphics
- Optional Japanese language voice-overs, selectable alongside the English voice-overs of the original
- A new "Very Sweet Mode" which changes all the female characters' costumes into "sexier" forms (cheerleader costumes, lingerie, bikinis, etc.)
- Those who pre-ordered the game in Japan received a set of pictures entitled "Erotica Portrait" along with the game. This collection of sexy portraits will differ depending on the platform. PS3 owners received the "Sexy Cherry" flavor, while Xbox 360 users received "Sweet Mango" flavor.
- Five extra Boss fights from No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle appear in this version of the original game. They are Skelter Helter, Nathan Copeland, Kimmy Howell, Matt Helms and Alice Twilight.
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise also supports the PlayStation Move system, meaning that Heroes' Paradise carries the exact same controls as the original game.
Heroes' Paradise was released in Japan on April 15, 2010. Konami announced it would also be released exclusively on the PlayStation 3 in both Europe and North America, on May 20th 2011, and August 16th 2011 respectively.