Retro Review: No More Heroes

The Pros and Cons of a Wii Classic

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The Wii was home to a huge variety of titles. From the shovel ware that seemed to fill shelves at game stores, to Nintendo’s own first party masterpieces, the Wii played host to an exciting mix of innovative titles. No More Heroes is an example of one of the many unusual third party titles that remains worth picking up today. The game came out in 2008, relatively early in the Wii’s lifespan, and takes the form a rather quirky adventure game.

No More Heroes follows the story of Travis Touchdown, a slightly bombastic young guy who buys a ‘beam katana’ in an online auction and for one reason or another soon finds himself competing in the United Assassins Association against a collection of colourful bosses. It’s a refreshing straightforward and unconventional premise for a game. While that’s making the narrative seem incredibly straightforward, the lack of a noble reason (and, arguably, a noble ‘hero’) is the defining feature of the game’s tone. The Wii’s touch controls still divide opinion, but whether you’re pro or anti-waggling the game certainly makes intriguing use of them. Little features like using the Wii remote like a telephone (with dialogue being pumped out it’s less than stellar speaker) are likely to delight at first, before becoming an annoyance. The use of motion controls for combat works a lot better, avoiding the mistake of many early Wii game’s and not being too ambitious. The game’s ‘open world’ is another factor that you will either love or hate – compared to other titles its definitely sparsely populated.

Travis Touchdown himself must have made a significant contribution to the game’s popularity and longevity. Travis is best described as a fanboy; he’s a recluse who loves anime, wrestling and video games. As a leading man he’s a definite injection of comedy into the game. Often hopelessly out of his depth Travis’ reactions and humorous remarks endear him to the player as he makes an unsteady entrance into the world of fighting assassins for money. Despite this, though, he’s a character that’s hard to love. He typifies power fantasy – motivated my fame, money and women. These are all deliberate flaws, and form part of the game’s more unique approach to narrative, but like much of the gameplay it won’t stop it being a pain.

Overall No More Heroes thrives as an example of how having a clear and distinct style can compensate for shortcomings and limitations in game play. Compared to other Wii ‘gems’ its not aged flawlessly, but it still enjoyable as a unique, if slightly clunky, relic. The game did receive a sequel 2 years later, No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, which built on the game’s strengths.

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Matt Crofts
Matt is the SFFN's Retro Editor, focusing on all things old but interesting, including (but not limited to!) books, movies and video games. As a researcher in Gothic literature Matt also has an affinity for black cats, Hammer horror, and all things Dracula.