TGS 2007: No More Heroes hands-on

On a game console where pixls, toadstools, and bobble headed caricatures rule, it seems like it’s becoming more difficult to find some good, clean action and fighting. We did not find that in Marvelous Entertainment’s stylistic brawler No More Heroes. Instead, we found light sabers, slot machine play, brain busting finishing moves, and even crotch lasers. While it’s not exactly what we were looking for, No More Heroes did not disappoint.

The stylistic, cell-shaded brawler is a breath of fresh air on the Wii. While it would be considered a great looking game on any console, its appeal has more to do with style than technical details, and No More Heroes definitely stands out among other Wii titles here at TGS. Taking control of a spiky-haired badass sporting jeans, sunglasses, and a light blade has its appeals, and the enemies and stages all have a similar gritty cell-shaded look.

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While the console’s controllers are different things to different people, pummeling baddies seems like a more natural use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, and No More Heroes puts them to good use. The Nunchuck’s analog stick takes care of movement, and the Nunchuck buttons allow enemy lock-on. On the Wii Remote, the A button takes care of most of the attack action, and the d-pad is assigned to various moves during battle.

As you encounter enemies, mashing the A button swings your sword for continued attacks, much like any other beat ’em up. The motion sensing comes into play as you wear these enemies down. Near the end of enemies’ life bars, players are quickly prompted to complete a directional gesture with the Wii Remote, and a successful swing initiates a brutal and satisfying finishing move to that enemy.

Players continue to fend off varied enemies in a similar manner until coming across the demo’s boss, who seems to be an angry American postal worker turned super villain. After a transformation, this boss provokes a fight by blasting what could only be described as a crotch laser at you, and of course, you don’t just blow off a crotch laser attack.

The battle proved to be pretty challenging as the boss had long-range distance attacks, close combat moves, blocking ability, and eventually even took to the air. While locked-on, players can use evasive moves by hitting left or right on the d-pad. Instead of just bashing away, I had to look for openings, use smart dodging, and follow up to eventually wear the boss down, and after all of that work, you can’t help but be satisfied.

While we love our Super Paper Marios and Zeldas, they don’t fill the need for an instantly accessible and simply fun brawler like No More Heroes does. Not many third-party developers seem to be aiming for original, creative Wii titles, and so No More Heroes seems to be a hero of sorts, and we hope that we’ll eventually see more titles that break out of the Wii mold.

Dale North