[Editor's note: Whoa, a promoted story that isn't related to the Monthly Musing theme?! That's right boys and girls, we still recognize brilliant pieces of work that deserve to be promoted. Such as this case where Cowzilla3 writes an eye-opening piece on what No More Heroes really represents. -- CTZ]
Videogames stories hardly ever confront the gamer, causing some sort of introspective look on the decisions they’ve made throughout the game and prompting them to not only take a look at what they are doing in the game but who they are as a person. Films, books and television all have a myriad of means of confronting their audience forcing them to think about their actions and the world around them. However, videogames more often then not supplant us in the role of hero and push us forward unquestioningly and linearly to a victorious end goal. Sure there have been the rare gems like BioShock or even Call of Duty 4, but even these games only confront the gamer's ideals and not the gamer themselves. This is why I am so chagrinned that Suda51’s No More Heroes is not getting as much attention for its story and characters as the aforementioned games do.
So what is the point of No More Heroes, you ask? The point, as I see it, is to challenge the perception of how games and gamers work. The point is to question our motivations for playing and beating games, prompting us to look at both ourselves as gamers and the ideas and ideals behind both games’ moralities and designs. Quite a hefty chunk for a game that looks like it’s a generation old, can be summed up in its gameplay as a “hack n’ slash” and whose primary character seems to have as much depth as the 2D-pixel-style graphics that surround him.
Travis and his opponent, after a truly epic sword battle in which neither comes out on top, resign themselves to fighting forever as neither will ever win. Travis, despite the fact that he has fully realized that his fight to the top was both fake and pointless, is still fighting but having reached this point it is with a new realization that fighting was really the only point all along. Gamers would do the same thing, and do often do the same thing. Despite the killing having become pointless in terms of story and development, if the game went on we would go on with it in order to win. Travis has come to terms with this and realizes the only way out is to get a game over. As gamers we’re usually lead to a nice clean ending with the game designers holding our hands till the end of the story. When Travis realizes this isn’t going to happen in his game, that even now loose ends are popping up, finding “that exit they call paradise” becomes the only option to end the game. No more hero, no more game, no true winner, no true end.
Why did any of us start playing the game? Was it to unravel the mystery or be confronted in our ideals? I doubt it. We just wanted to chop people up with a light saber and Suda51 totally called us on it, and not just people who played No More Heroes but all gamers. It’s incredibly refreshing to play through a game that moves beyond surface value and becomes art not just through looking gorgeous or controls, but by challenging our perceptions. Because in the end, great art is something that not only moves us, makes us think and challenges who we are but also expands its medium and No More Heroes does all these things wonderfully.
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