I remember the first time I met ol’ Travis Touchdown. It was back in January of 2008 and my gaming rations from Christmas were running dangerously low. See, my Wii was barely a year old and it hadn't had the best holiday line-up for the mature gamer. So I braved the cold to seek provisions at the local marketplace. It was there that I would cross paths with Mr. Touchdown.
He dressed like a man who didn’t own a mirror and just plain didn’t care. He made looking at him your problem. His hair was tall, his brain was small, and he had enough energy to power the whole city. That day he followed me home and showed me it was perfectly possible to be both mature and immature at the same time. It wasn’t the best time I’d ever had, but Wii owners back then were either beggars or choosers, never both.
This guy or another round of WiiFit ... you pick.
Mr. Touchdown’s visit was brief, but sure left an impression. Sure he was crude and perverted, but you ain’t lived till you’ve seen him divide a thug in two, like a hot beam katana through butter. Now here it is, some three and a half years later, and look who’s knocking on my door. Ol’ Travis Touchdown. ‘Cept now he has his sights set on my PS3. Well, I think to myself, here we go again.
No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is a peculiar name for a peculiar game that was directed by one peculiar man known as Suda51 (real name: Goichi Suda) who was trying to be different. He saw a lack of mature content on the Wii, so he worked to fill that void. The original No More Heroes had extreme violence, sex, a sense of humor, retro gaming love, and a heaping helping of crazy sauce. It was as out of place in the Wii’s library as Freddy Krueger would be in a Disney film. It was also dang pretty in comparison, with graphics and sound quality not seen even from some first party Nintendo offerings.
In brief the story of No More Heroes has you playing the anime otaku Travis Touchdown who wins an online auction for a beam katana (read lightsaber) and takes the next logical step. He begins killing assassins so he can be the best assassin ever. The whole thing plays like a mature action anime as inspired by the Scott Pilgrim series. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how crazy the plot gets, it is still a chuckle to see these over the top characters interact with (and try to kill) each other.
I'm trying to translate those subtitles, you mind moving?
How, you are no doubt asking by now, is this version different from the original game? Well there are a few updates and tweaks that improve on the flaws in the original game. Bosses are now able to be revisited, a welcome addition since they are the highlight of the game. There are even score attack modes and online leaderboards this time around. The random power-up attacks (called Dark Side powers) you get can now be saved up and activated later. Before they would activate automatically and usually when you have already finished clearing a room of enemies. Fast travel to places you have already been has been added, reducing your time on the kind of boring over world area. If you fail a side mission there is now a retry option, before you would just fail and have to go all the way back to the place you received the mission to restart it. The full-on bonus content is the insertion of five extra bosses from the sequel No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle. Some fan service was added in an extra “Super Sweet” mode that *ahem* alters the clothing of the female characters. Lastly, the choice of using a Dualshock3 or the Move controller was added.
Here we get into a very “good news, bad news” discussion. The Move controller feels very much like the original Wiimote style play. For those unaware, you did not waggle to attack (a novel idea for the time) instead you used the motion control mostly for finishing moves. The satisfaction of watching an enemy’s head fly off of his body after a real world sideways slice with the controller is a thrill that never gets old. The experience is a lot less visceral using the Sixaxis or Dualshock controller. The bad news is that with every attack and every block the beam katana loses a fraction of its battery level and must be recharged often. You do this by shaking the controller up and down in the most infamously suggestive manner that has become the go to joke for this title. While this is mildly funny the first time you do it, it will get less and less so each time after. While you are “recharging” you cannot move or block, making this an especially annoying gameplay quirk during intense boss battles. Imagine if every time you had to reload a gun in a first person shooter your character had to stand perfectly still while you waggled the controller around for five seconds and all enemies continued to attack you. Kind of kills the momentum doesn’t it? Even worse, the “more fun to play with” Move controller option was programmed to be a little too inflexible on what it considers up and down motion. You have to be quite a bit more vigorous and accurate for the recharging to activate then you would have guessed. It is much easier on the Sixaxis controller to shake it (no there is no option to just hold down a button) up and down, but again it is the less rewarding controller option overall.
He's single ladies...
The bump up to HD does include some higher detailed textures, much better lighting effects, and excellent overall audio quality. Unfortunately --no, that’s not the right word --confusingly the slowdown and screen-tearing that plagued the Wii version still exists. While this is something that you just put up with on the Wii over three years ago, this is 2011 and on the powerful PS3 hardware. The graphical improvements are fine, but while the style was chosen to get the most bang-for-your-buck out of the Wii, it just doesn’t feel like this version really took full graphical advantage of the new platform. On top of that the load times (there are many) are just as long as they were on the Wii version.
If it sounds like I’m being hard on the game, it is only because I care. In an industry full of sequels and copycats, this is a unique experience that shouldn’t be ignored. It is a rather good value since you can pick up this game for around $30 new from most retailers. Whether or not you should buy it is quite conditional. If you have already played the original, there is little reason to buy this version unless you just have to get some more trophies. If you have a Move controller, definitely take the opportunity to play a game that knows how to utilize it well. If you have been waiting to play this game on an HD console, stop waiting.
... very single.
This game doesn’t get the “must-buy” label; instead it gets the “must-experience” one. If you are looking for something new (and old enough to get a mature title) give No More Heroes a try. The fun you will have on this ride will far outweigh the minor negative bumps along the way.