It’s Game Time
When the gameplay begins, No More Heroes
is an exciting blend of exactly what you might expect and precisely what you were looking for. Some parts of it work better than others, but the whole thing pulls together in a way that is actually quite beautiful despite the occasional flaws.
So, here’s what you’d probably expect from a third person, sword fighting Wii game; gesture-based combat and a simple hack ‘n’ slash game format. That’s also exactly what’s on offer for part of the game.
Thankfully, where other Wii games pile on all manner of gestures and complex manoeuvres, requiring Herculean effort from players who want to play for more than half an hour, No More Heroes
manages to hit the spot where immersion and entertainment meet.
Rising Star Games has been clever enough then to recognise that this button-hammering mechanic is how players are used to fighting battles and that although flailing around with the Wiimote is fun for the first five minutes, it quickly gets old. At the same time though, the developer has grasped that there’s no point playing on the crippled hardware of Wii if you aren’t going to do a little bit of flailing – thus, a balance has been struck.
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Travis has no other weapons that his beam katana, though it can be upgraded over time and control of his sword is given to the Wiimote. By holding the Wiimote pointing upwards you can put Travis in a high stance and by angling it down you can switch him to a low stance, using the A button to swing and the B button to kick your foes and stun them – being able to spot when an enemy is blocking either high or low is an integral part of winning any battle.
For the most part then combat is simple – you run up and hammer away at the buttons until the enemy dies, using small movements of the wrist to change your attack between low and high stances. Movement comes in to play in a bigger way though when you finish off an enemy – flashing arrows pop up on the screen and tell you to give a final blow directly. A single sweep finishes off the enemy.
Now, this is something that is again both excellently done and an awful pain. On the one hand, the fact that awkward controls haven’t been hamhandedly shoved in is a testament to the keen understanding the developer has of both the platform and the players. On the other hand though, the finishing move mechanic quickly becomes tired and dull.
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The game does its best to keep things edgy and spicy though by unlocking new moves and throws steadily as you progress. Special moves and combos can be activated too via a slot machine at the bottom of the screen which spins when you do a finishing move. Hit a certain combo on the slots and unlock some truly crazy special moves – energy waves, slow-motion and one-hit-kills are all unpredictable possibilities.
Anyway – that’s all just one side of the game. As soon as you finish the first mission and rank yourself as number ten you’ll get to see a whole new side to No More Heroes
and the game takes on a GTA
esque open world design.
In the open world, Travis can do as he wishes and there are all the usual mod-cons to occupy yourself with. Explore the city finding new items and upgrades, take on odd-jobs at the job centre, accept an assassination mission or simply go back to you motel, slip into something comfortable and watch some TV. In your motel there’s a whole load of things to do – you can play with your cat, look at your collections and go to the toilet.
Going to the toilet is actually an important part of the game too – sitting down and grunting out a log is how Travis saves his progress. Again, you weren’t expecting that, were you?