Review: No More Heroes
Score: 3 (OK)
No More Heroes has a certain style to it, but it's a rather polarizing style. Either you'll like it, and be able to overlook the rather glaring faults in the gameplay, or you won't, and the flaws might rob any enjoyment.
Let's get one thing straight: No More Heroes is rated M for Mature for a reason. The violence is gratuitous. Flying blood can obscure the screen. This game is not like the Wii's more family-friendly fare. It works, though, and creates a wonderful atmosphere for a crazy game.
The game stars Travis Touchdown, a newly recruited assassin who's working his way up the ranks of the Universal Assassin's Association to become Number One, armed with his trusty beam katana. (A weapon that looks, sounds, and acts suspiciously like a light sabre. No one tell Lucas.) Not even the fourth wall is spared on his trip up the ranks - references to otaku and samurai film clichés fill the game. The game is smart enough to never take itself seriously.
No More Heroes is split into three basic parts: combat sections, free roaming, and "side jobs" which are essentially mini-games. The combat sections are the meat of the game - they're the reason to play. They're the fun parts. The rest is just filler.
The free roaming section can be interesting if you're into site-seeing, but it really only serves to waste time between accepting assassination missions or side jobs and actually starting them. It becomes just a delay. There's very little to do in the free roaming section. In fact, there's really only two things that are done in the free-roaming section: find items, and travel between locations. A simple selection screen could have replaced the latter, and the items in the former are basically worthless.
The side jobs are just minigames - bad ones at that. Fortunately you only need to play them once. Unfortunately, you need to play them once: being ranked silver or higher on a side job unlocks assassination missions, which are required to make enough money to enter ranked battles, which are how the game moves along.
Which brings us to the combat sections. Combat in No More Heroes is deceptively simple. With the exception of bosses, it's basically mindlessly mashing the A button to attack. There's some skill involved in knowing when to switch between High and Low stance (done based on the title of the Wiimote) but generally mindlessly mashing A is enough. When a normal enemy dies, you enter "death blow" mode, which requires moving the Wiimote in the prompted direction.
Bosses are another story. Bosses require actual skill to defeat. You need to pay attention to what they're doing, be prepared to dodge their attacks, and wait for the right moment to strike. The boss fights are generally rather interesting and challenging. The only problem with them is that a few bosses have instant-kill moves, which you need to know about before fighting them in order to avoid them. (I don't mean cheap high-damage moves. I mean moves that trigger a cutscene which leads straight to game over, with no warning. Cute.)
Overall, No More Heroes is a fun, quirky game. It's not the best game, it's not the most polished game, but overall, it's a good way to waste some time.