When 90% of a consoles library can be summed up as being within the realms and ideals of “Wii Play Mario Sports with your Cooking Mama Party Resort” it falls on the remaining 10% to help out everyone’s favourite little white box of tricks. And while it would take me at least my hands and feet to count the number of titles that have made good use of the Wii’s motion control abilities and not just bombard us with rehashed mini-games, the number of ‘those’ games that are still great and something worth playing could be written on the back of a playing card. To reel off a few, Zack and Wiki, Red Steel 2, Trauma Centre and Capcom’s Umbrella Chronicles zombie-rail-shooters at a stretch.
Most of these games came out a little later in the console’s lifespan, since the Wii-motion Plus appeared on the scene to help the Wii-Mote do what it was always bloody intended to do. But one early riser was No More Heroes, once it had crossed border patrol and been translated into seventeen different languages of course. From Japanese developers Suda 51, who brought us one of the greatest and most unique games the Gamecube had to offer – Mario Sunshine and Twilight Princess fans can shush right now thanks, we’ve heard it before – in the form of Killer 7, which would – or should, at any rate – rank in the Top 10 Gamecube games for anyone who ever got round to playing it. It was an RPG-Action-Puzzle-Rail-Shooter and would probably have sat right at home on the Wii. Some people even go as far to say No More Heroes is a spiritual sequel to Killer 7 but I’m not convinced myself, it definitely has its own identity.
So after a successful sequel on the Wii with last year’s No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, the PS3 has finally gotten the port of the game it has been screaming out for, plus the motion control scheme can now be mapped onto the Playstation Move and actually give us a game to use the damn thing on.
You play Travis Touchdown, a guy as obsessed with wrestling and anime in the same way chimpanzees are obsessed with flinging their poo at passers-by. He lives in the hotel, No More Heroes, in the town of Santa Destroy, and upon the delivery of a Beam-Katana – totally not a light-sabre – decides the only way to get some cash in this day and age is by murdering people in a spot of wet work (or assassination, for those of you unfamiliar with the term – now you know why Wet the game was titled as such, as oppose to the justification many of you thought. You know who you are…). After killing a guy called Helter Skelter, Travis becomes the 11th ranked assassin in the UAA, or the United Assassins Association, and vows to become the number one assassin by rights of killing the remaining leaderboard.
The combat is fun as always and the use of the PlayStation Move brings back a real sense of familiarity to anyone who played the original on the Wii. I was expecting more of a 1:1 – or close enough – motion for the sword-fighting, but it’s still a case of horizontal swipes and, if you’re feeling particularly frivolous, the odd vertical swipe to enable Travis to slice up his foes. It feels less like what should have been a step forward and more a case of wanting to get it onto the console and give the overall game a polish without actually tweaking the mechanics. It’s disappointing but still functional and enjoyable. The Wii version even went as far, in the attempt to add a streak of immersion into the game, by having you talk into the Wii-Mote mobile-phone style to enjoy crackly phone calls, meanwhile the PS Move control scheme, or indeed the standard controller scheme, does little to enhance the experience, but neither does it detract from the game for newcomers.
The sub-missions and mini-games between the epic boss fights return in glorious form here. You must raise an entry fee to allow you to set out to find the next poor schmuck on the list, before then picking off a hoard or two of minions and then the boss man or lady, or, well, whatever, him/her/itself -delete as appropriate. The blood and gore removed from the Wii version – so much for the rebellious streak Suda 51 – and replaced with black pixelated fountains like something you’d expect out of a Paper Mario game, has been replaced with literally fire-hoses full of blood gushing out of every new orifice you create with your beam-katana. The finishing moves this time round, which still adopt the ludicrous shaking of the standard controller to charge up, are now even more exciting and visceral and newcomers to the title will certainly feel a great sense of actually inflicting mortal wounds on every henchmen Santa Destroy has to offer.
A lot of people have made the comparison between NMH and Grand Theft Auto, and many more people have done that exact same thing since the PS3 port has appeared on the scene. It’s a valid comparison. The fetch quests, mini games, killings as well as the humour and vividness, along with the added level of gore, certainly reminds me of the early GTA titles. But despite a definite GTA vibe, overall No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise carves out a different experience, one far more focused on combat. The transition, on the whole, from Nintendo’s relatively cuddly and kid friendly land of mini-games and Kirby, over the borders into PS3 town with its Space Marines and chest-high-wall-a-thons, has gone smoothly.
What I will say is that I am not overly convinced that this is a complete re-model of the original into HD, but more a somewhat scaled up version of the Wii game from 2008, but I am not one for smashing my controller to the floor and yelling “I QUITE CLEARLY SAW A POLYGON THERE I AM NOT PLAYING ON THE WII EVAR AGAIN!” and for me it is still the aesthetic presentation of the game as a whole, in both the Wii and PS3 versions, that brings the charm for me, not how many hours developers put in to making Travis’ sarcastic eyebrow-raising ‘that’ much more sarcastic thanks to a HD platform.
So all in all a recommendation has to be given, because for those who haven’t experienced No More Heroes or Killer 7, it’s a strong welcome to the franchise with open arms, blood stained violent open arms but still…
The majority of No More Heroes heart is still there, if a little underwhelming in terms of what could have been done in transferring it to the all powerful monolith that is the PS3. Happy Kanataing, or whatever the verb for ‘katana’ is, answers on a postcard please!
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: PS3 Release Date: 20/05/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.