Instant Review: No More Heroes

2008-02-01 23:22

So, I figured I’d pick up the game most unlike Endless Ocean.

No More Heroes is a flourescent painting of a soup can. It’s art; it masquerades as something utterly vapid, and it’s easy to think it really is just that vapid, but they keep piling on things that are dumber and dumber until you realize that no one could be that bad by accident — and it clicks.

The plot, if I may use the term so broadly, is that you control a character named Travis Touchdown, who has been tricked into taking on the tenth-ranked assassin in the world. (Conveniently, the top eleven all live in the city he’s got a crash space in.) He meets a mysterious French girl, whose shirt is open so you can see her bra, who explains to him that, now that he’s ranked, he can either kill all the others in order, or be killed by some new up-and-coming sort — she apparently forgot to mention this.

Does this motivate him? Not really. But that she says maybe she’ll “do it” with him if he becomes number one? That’s motivation enough.

A character whose defining characteristic is that he’s willing to climb over hundreds of bodies in order to have a shot at sleeping with a pretty girl that he thinks of as an evil and manipulative bitch? We’ve just gotten started.

Save points are toilets. You recharge your “beam katana” by making wanking guestures — which are shown in-game, too. When you kill enemies right, little slot machine icons show up on screen — get three cherries and you get a bonus power! The rankings of the top assassins are shown on a high score chart that would have looked a little dated in 1986.

This game is a beautiful, and rather biting, commentary on a whole lot of other games, especially things like Grand Theft Auto or the Godfather game. The fourth wall never had a chance, and the graphical style does a lot to cover up the Wii’s hardware limitations. You’d never mistake it for a PS3 game, but it has substantial style, and looks pretty decent. Frame rate is good, but stutters sometimes.

Overall… It’s art. If you are interested by or fascinated by media which comment on their genres, you will like it. If you think GTA is a serious game that deserves a lot of respect, you probably won’t like NMH, because you’ll spend the entire game feeling like the designer is mocking you, which he is. If you think games like GTA are fun, you might enjoy this one, as long as you don’t try to take it too seriously.

Peter Seebach

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