Up Up Down Down: No More Heroes
In recent years, the name of Suda51 has become something of a mainstay in gaming. This is due to his studio Grasshopper Manufacture delivering numerous offbeat titles over the course of the previous console generation. But there was a time when Suda51 wasn't as renowned as he is today. He was still a talented dude, releasing awesome games like Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special (which sports a story mode that ends with the main character killing himself after winning the championship) and Killer7 (one of the most intriguing projects of all time). No More Heroes, however, seemed to spark the beginning of the Suda51 movement.
Released for the Wii in North America in 2008, the bloody, foul-mouthed, pervy action game brought something vastly different to Nintendo's happy little family-friendly console. The game was eventually ported to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise, though we only got the PlayStation 3 version in North America. It's a hell of a ride, no doubt, even if it's not without a handful of hindrances.
Up Up: F--khead!
You know you're in store for something crazy when a game's opening sequence ends with a hilarious, bloody, crass scene. I won't spoil anything for those who've yet to play No More Heroes, but if you have no intention of doing so, you should at least check out this one particular moment. The game's opening is telling of what you can expect. No More Heroes is constantly funny, feeding you great moments that give you a wide-eyed, gaping-mouthed look while you exclaim, “What the hell?!” It's also kind of dramatic in parts, but it almost feels like that's all part of the joke.
Down Down: Open world isn't really an open world
Unlike every dumb joke and memorable moment, the open world environment of No More Heroes is vastly disappointing. It's really more of a hub than an actual world, and it's used primarily to house the different boss battles you participate in. There are some side missions and collectibles, but these are hardly worth getting excited about. The open world feels so barren, tiresome, and uninspired that you can't help but simply imagine how much better it could've been. Thankfully, this element was entirely disposed of in No More Heroes 2.
Up Up: Great offbeat style
Aside from just being really damn funny, No More Heroes also has this amazingly eccentric style that's reminiscent of a badass B movie. The way the enemies are introduced is usually quite entertaining, and hearing them go back and forth with protagonist Travis Touchdown makes for a number of wild, humorous, and strange encounters. The world that No More Heroes is set in is also quite unique, filled with colorful assassins, unusual locales, and unsettling mystery. Admittedly, it's the moments when the game doesn't fill you in on something that leave you massively intrigued.
Down Down: Having to complete boring side quests just to progress is a drag
There are quite a few side quests in No More Heroes, and despite the fact that they're not a part of the main campaign, they're technically required to progress. Before you can chase after an assassin, you must pay an entry fee. Because Travis is a broke-ass otaku, he needs to scrounge any money he can find, which means you've got to complete side quests to earn cash. It wouldn't be so bad if the entry fees didn't get ridiculously high later in the game, but you eventually find yourself spending more time doing side quests than actually engaging in story-based sequences.
Up Up: Cool hack-and-slash action
Whether you're playing No More Heroes on the Wii or PlayStation 3, you're in store for a fun time. The game's hack-and-slash combat is intuitive and delightful. While Travis' weapon of choice is the beam katana he won in an online auction, he's also got some cool wrestling moves in his arsenal. Adding to the slick action is a bloody aesthetic that sees enemies being cut vertically in half or beheaded, with blood and coins spraying all over the place. Yes, coins spray out of enemies. Coins! Sadly, that's still not enough to avoid those damn entry fees.
Down Down: PS3 version is missing “Heavenly Star” by Genki Rockets
Okay, so this is really only a minor gripe that applies solely to the HD remake of No More Heroes, but it's still something that really stood out to me. When I first walked into a shop in No More Heroes on the Wii, I was instantly won over by the angelic vocals and catchy electronic pop sound of Japanese outfit Genki Rockets. It was reason enough for me to stick around in those shops long after I'd spent Travis' cash. The PlayStation 3 version of No More Heroes instead replaces “Heavenly Star” with a rather generic-sounding track that's just unpleasant to listen to. Not cool.
Left Right Left Right: No More Heroes is Suda51 at his best
Even despite a few miniscule flaws, this is a Suda51 game through and through. Its absorbing sense of style, unrelenting humor, and fast-paced action make it a real treat whether you're playing the Wii or PlayStation 3 version. Yes, Grasshopper has released better games since, and No More Heroes 2 is actually one of the studio's best titles, but this is where it all began. No More Heroes marked the beginning of Suda51's rise in the industry, and it did so with one of the most wholesomely unique experiences to come along at the time.
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