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No More Heroes (Wii) artwork

No More Heroes (Wii) review

"No More..."

Whether it's against a group of baseball players, high school students, or Shadow Stormtroopers, slaying with a sword in No More Heroes is made amusing thanks to the incorporated motion controls. Opponents' heads fly and bodies split when performing a slash gesture, a quick, circular motion is vital when a clash battle occurs, traffic control signs are needed during wrestling moves, and an aggressive "wiggle" shake is a must to recharge your beam Katana. A beam Katana won by the protagonist at an online auction. But the game isn't purely a motion-controlled fest; it's actually a small part of a combat system that conforms to usual 3D hack 'n slash design, one with high and low attacks, "special meter" moves, and a parrying component.

You'll use this combat system and the Wii's motion capabilities to dominate the world of professional killers, defeating the ten ranked assassins, and becoming number one in the hopes... the hopes... of getting laid. Conveniently, most of these assassins are in the game's main setting, Santa Destroy, a small town by the ocean, where the main character, Travis Touchdown, resides in a motel. His small abode is adorned with anime action figures of underage girls, a kitty that has the option of being petted, and a toilet that functions as a save spot. It's the only save spot in the entire city. That's right: the town can be explored, and also done so while riding an obnoxiously chunky motorcycle.

Within this environment, you'll be sent to various side jobs to gather enough money for the next ranked assassin battle. This ranges from stuff like collecting coconuts from trees, to killing bodyguards in a pizza restaurant's parking lot and filling up cars at a gas station. As you get deeper in the rankings, the money needed gets heftier, requiring more handy side work in this unorthodox, blood-soaked adventure directed by Suda51. While all the weird things mentioned so far is par for the course from the man who brought players Killer7 and The Silver Case series, what's very unusual is this: at the time of release, the game happened to be the most video gamey, non-licensed title he directed since Grasshopper Manufacture's inception in 1998.

Unfortunately, that might also be connected to the severe set of problems No More Heroes is flustered with. The biggest issue is how, play just a few missions in, you'll quickly realize that the open world city is not only extremely unnecessary, but needlessly prolongs basic tasks. And I mean basic tasks. Selecting side missions, activating main missions, strengthening, and upgrading are bogged down by pointless variations of the Point A-to-Point B-to-Point A destination template so many open world games abide by. These all could have been done on some stylized menu selection screen, and I say that because there's legitimately nothing worthwhile to do outside those tasks. There shouldn't be a city.

Forsaking brevity, I'll explain the hindrance players endure throughout the entire journey, because this accounts for 50, possibly 60% of the game.

You need money for the next assassin battle, so you exit your motel, hop on your bike, and drive nearly across the map for the side job office. After you select a task, you hop back on the bike to another destination. After you mow the lawn, the game graciously, and this happens only during these parts, teleports you to the assassination side job office, where you accept a mission for more money. You get back on your bike, drive to another spot, and accomplish the undertaking... hopefully. If you fail the mission, the game forces you to drive all the way back to the assassination office just to restart the mission, then travel back to the mission you failed. After you're done, you might have to do another mission for a tad more cash. So more back and forth.

Once you're done with all that, you head back to the motel to save, then start a main stage, right? No. THEN, you step outside your motel, walk across the street, and put money in the ATM to initiate the stage. Begins now, right??? NO. You then head back into your motel to receive a message about the stage, then you exit the motel, hop on your bike again, then drive to the pinpointed location to finally start just one main stage. Now do allllllll this... for nine additional assassin stages. It's an absolute travesty of game design.

I wish I could say playing an actual assassin stage makes it all worth the suffering, I really do. However, the game basically stops adding new gameplay content past the first stage. The flow is as follows: you run down linear, long corridors fighting three enemy types for 11 stages, a brawler, someone holding a long weapon, and someone holding a gun. That's the whole game... which also includes the side assassin missions. There's tiny, brief deviations from this structure, such as a minigame where you hit a baseball to knock down enemies lined like dominoes, or hitting people with your bike. Though, the most thought-out microgame occurs in the fourth ranked assassin's stage, where you play a vertical shoot-em-up that's a thousand times more engaging and intense than the main game. It's entertaining from beginning to end, so I suspect Suda had no hands-on involvement...

Really, the only positives you can take away from these stages are the short cutscenes involving the comical boss characters, ranging from a singing gunslinger to an old, small lady with a giant rail cannon. While they showcase Suda51's patented weirdness by displaying eccentric characters, they don't improve the product in any way; they just give you a nice break from the monotonous action. The boss fights themselves wildly fluctuate when it comes to quality, as a good chunk are simple circle-strafe tactics, some are genuinely good, and some are downright infuriating. The assassin showdown on the beach, for instance, where you constantly fall in random pits and must quickly shake your way out, is ridiculously terrible. But in another stage, the baseball bat-wielding psycho has enough variation in attack patterns and segments to make her a legitimately challenging foe.

No More Heroes is gratuitous in its length, creatively bankrupt in its structure, and such a chore to play. If it weren't for the motion controls acting as a fun workout distraction throughout the adventure, this would have been one of the most dreadful experiences I've had with a video game. You know what I find very ironic about the game's souring, stretched ordeal? The entire opening cutscene jokes about players wanting games to get to the point, then proceeds to fast-forward through the backstory to begin the game. Then the game happens... and I can't help but think... did the joke fly over Suda51's own head?


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (June 25, 2018)


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EmP posted June 25, 2018:

Dude.. I was in the process of clearing some time away so I had time to replay this one in the next week or so. I'm not saying I won't now, bit still... Way to harsh on something I was actually looking forward to for once!
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Masters posted June 25, 2018:

Gary -- Pick didn't elect to receive feedback on this review. As such, you'd do well to keep your comments to yourself. Thank you.
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pickhut posted June 25, 2018:

Silence, former Site King!

But seriously, it's pretty funny untimely that my review went up just as you were about to revisit the game. My first time playing it was for this review, so I was actually looking forward to the game, but... hmm. A side note to your suffering: I actually wanted to compare No More Heroes to other "brawler" type games, especially since it came out in 2008, while other stuff like the first three DMCs, God Hand, which did both the action and comedy much better, preceded the game by several years. Hell, Devil May Cry 4 came out the same month as NMH. I ultimately decided against it, since it would seem like I was rubbing salt in its wound. I wanted the review to acknowledge, to what I consider, the game's flaws without outside help.

Though, if there's an upside to the whole thing, it's that playing the game actually made me buy a used copy of the sequel (came in the mail today), which I never intended to do going into the first game. I won't review or play it now, since I'm drained playing Suda51-directed games for now, but it will happen down the line.

Thanks for reading, btw!

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