Name: No More Heroes
Platform: Nintendo Wii
There is a thin line between brilliance and madness, innovation and cliché, depth and frivolity. No More Heroes doesn't dance that line, it is that line. It envelopes it, reinvents it, and makes you forget it ever existed. Suda 51 has always said he would develop games unlike we have ever seen before and until now they were empty promises. His past ventures were stylistically fantastic but missed the key aspects that made them fun. With No More Heroes, he has truly done what he has been trying to do since he began making games, and I couldn't be happier.??
The game tells the tale of Travis Touchdown, citizen of Santa Destroy (that is "Saint Destroy" for the monolingual) and ruthless assassin. After killing the number 11 ranked assassin in the world, Helter Skelter, he sets himself on a path to number one. Plot is thrown wildly at him in a self-referencing manner, continually making wise cracks about video games and meta-humor about the industry. At one point, when a ranked opponent is about to soliloquize about her past, Travis is forced to literally "fast forward" the scene because what she was about to say was so disturbing it would change the games rating and have it get delayed until it is, and I quote, "No More Heroes Forever."
The entire game is insane and quirky. Santa Destroy is, for some reason, a fully explorable city. Travis can jump on his oversized motorcycle and drive around, doing missions and side quests to buy new items and abilities. There is really no reason at all for No More Heroes to be a free roaming game, but it is. That is one of the main things that I noticed while playing the game: it does things it doesn't need to do that work out in the end. There is no benefit to having a clothing store with nearly 100 shirts, there is no reason to have money buried around the city and an attachment for your weapon to help you find it, there is no reason to allow players to mow lawns for money when they are trained assassins, but it works. Everything comes together, and everything works out in the end.??
Some say that the game is an example of style over substance but that isn't the case at all. On the contrary, the form matches the content, allowing for things that may not look good on a different engine to work well on this one. The graphics look like an unfinished Playstation 2 game at times. They are choppy, jaggy, and otherwise silly looking. However, it is the consistency of the graphics that make it into a style, and if it looked more realistic, the act of cutting people in half vertically or stabbing someone in the chest and having their entire body explode might not look as, dare I say, fun. It may seem at first there is a lack of polish, but the more you play the more you realize that the seeming lack of polish is likely intentional.
Combat is a highlight, which is very unusual for a Suda 51 title. The game controls like a typical hack-and-slash adventure with hints of remote waggling thrown in from time to time. It generally works well and the combat is fun, albeit a bit stale. Even so, walking into a room and knowing you will need to fight 100 enemies is enjoyable and doesn't grow old by the time the game is over.??
No More Heroes isn't an amazing game, but the experience of playing it can be described as such. From beginning to end it maintains its humor and will consistently surprise you with a new plot twist and imaginative characters. There are not many games of recent that can say that - and even less for the Nintendo Wii. Buy this game, not just because it is fun, stylish, and worth playing through, but so we will see more of its kind in the future.