Created by Grasshopper Manufacture / Rated M / 1 Player / Wii Remote + Nunchuk / MSRP $50
Review written by Ray

ZapperZapper

After falling in love with Killer7 for its unique design, stylish violence, and twisted storyline, I’ve been looking forward to No More Heroes since it was announced. It’s not often that games as unique as these are created, but Director Suda 51 has followed up his last act with yet another excellent piece of violent eye candy.

Killer7 wasn’t exactly the most well-received game, as sales were low and some reviewers felt bogged down by its unique gameplay style and story as complex as a Rubik’s cube. In general, most just found the entire thing too weird in general. It’s clear Grasshopper took all of these criticisms and applied them to No More Heroes. The visual style and violence are still intact, but the story is thin and the gameplay is straight-forward.

You play as Travis Touchdown, a rookie assassin living in Santa Destroy, California. When he realizes he’s broke, he’s approached by a young vixen by the name of Sylvia Christel who offers him a job. Kill the #11 ranked assassin, Helter Skelter, and earn some cash. Once this is completed, Travis falls into a slippery slope with the UAA (United Assassin’s Association) where he’s driven to become number one.

Before each match, Travis is required to pay an entrance fee to fight the next rank. To earn this money, he’ll have to work strange jobs, such as collecting garbage, pumping gas, mowing lawns, and cleaning graffiti. This opens the door to additional assassination missions around town, as well as keeping you from taking your beamsword for granted. It’s an interesting contrast, but I consider all of it filler to help pad out the main game – which is the battle to become number one.

The quest to kill all of the top 10 ranked assassins is what makes you want to fall in love with the game. Each assassin you face is an incredibly unique character, working as very memorable villians that could each be made into their own anime mini-series. It’s the drive to discover the next assassin that will make players willing to do the extra jobs to pay for it.

All assassins are showcased with an excellent presentation through in-game cutscenes that give you just enough insight about the killer to make the fight feel epic. The problem though, is that they die as soon as you’re finished fighting them. Obviously. While Killer7 used entire chapters to give you a better understanding of a boss, this game gives you a single cutscene before the fight. Just when you start to love them, they’re dead. It’s too bad, but it certainly makes sense.

The fighting system is slightly flawed, but it’s so much fun to slice people in half (that’s vertically, folks) and watch obscene amounts of blood spew out like a fountain that you’ll be willing to put up with its flaws. Is this game incredibly violent? Yes, that much is obvious, but it’s not the kind of violence you’ll find in Manhunt 2, where the intention is to disturb. Instead, it’s a stylized killing spree meant to be in a more humorous and comic-book fashion.

The soundtrack for this game is absolutely on fire. Like many of the 2D Mario titles of the past, this game takes one simple tune and reuses it in many creative ways. I was worried I would be sick of it by now, but that tune is so catchy… boy it’s still got me humming.

The incredible characters and flashy style easily make up for the game’s shortcomings. This is definitely a title worth playing, and a memorable one at that, but I can’t say Suda 51 has found the right balance yet. If Killer7 was too big on story and odd play mechanics, then No More Heroes is just a little too straightforward for its own good. It sure is a lot of fun, though.

Verdict: A guilty pleasure full of style.

8.2/10
Reviewer’s Completion: "Bitter" completed with "real ending"/ 146 cards / 36 lovikov balls / Tsubaki MK-III fully upgraded

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