'No More Heroes' is definitely my Groundhog Day game. There are many reasons for me returning again and again to this game since it was released in Europe in March 2008. Considering that I've already written some blog-posts about this game, I will reduce some paragraphs in order to keep this readable and maybe even interesting.
The main reason why I love this game so much is that it's just fun to play. While the fight-system itself may involve quite a lot of button mashing, the finishing moves are fun to pull off and feel really satisfying thanks to the motion gestures. Yes, this actually is one of the few games where I think the motion gestures make it a bit more entertaining and fun. Enemies who explode into fountains of money improve that enjoyment too. Unfortunately, the European version is censored, so no blood for us. I still hope that the HD version of the game will be uncensored...
As I keep saying, the Characters are very... uhm... interesting!
The graphics are also a very important factor. Not because there are a whole lot of interesting effects going on (there aren't) or because there are a lot of polygons pushed by the powerhouse that is the Wii (which it most definitely isn't). Heck, even the textures look like something the Dreamcast could have pulled off. No, what I'm talking about is the Art Style. Cel-Shading has become a staple of the industry since games like Fear Effect or Wind Waker, and this game constantly reminds me why: It's simplistic, yet nice to watch, while it is not too demanding in processor power. The game could look crisper, but again my hopes lie with the HD version coming out sometime soon. In the end, the unique art style makes this game instantly recognizable.
This is artwork from the Hopper's Edition of the HD-version of the Game.
The music is unique, and I downright fell in love with some tracks. Especially the one playing while fighting Henry at the very end is really memorable. Sound-design overall is pretty solid and some voice actors are brilliant. Especially Travis manages to come across as somebody most 'gamers' can identify with.
But these are not really the reasons why I love this game or why I replay it at least once a year. I love this game, because it makes me THINK. Yeah, you read right: A game that makes me think... about what exactly?
There are some very obvious choices here, since the game is, at some level, about designing games. The whole thing is more or less criticizing the way how the videogame industry partially drives itself into death. It copies videogame concepts, throws them at you and gives you an opportunity to think about them. This is of course a theme that is very dominant in the sequel, but I'll talk about that another time.
Videogame concepts are not the only concepts that are present here. I already wrote a long piece about how No More Heroes also discusses certain gender constructions
. The characters are actually the main factor for pulling me back into the game: They are, in themselves, concepts that hit their auto-destruct button during their introduction scene. Prime example? Bad Girl looks like a very stereotypical, idealized woman and sex-object, but behaves in very male, if not disgusting ways that are based on the very perversion of the concept. To a certain extend, all the characters in the No More Heroes universe are based on that very basic concept. It is just plain fun, to see how they give the counterconcept to the players perception.
To keep this from becoming way too long, I should stop here.
Tl;dr I love No More Heroes, and to most people this shouldn't be news.
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