It has been a while coming, but Nintendo Switch owners can finally play the first No More Heroes. Originally released on the Wii, this port of the game is an upscaled version of that release, which means the changed art style from the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 remasters is nowhere to be found. Besides the better graphics, frame rate, and load times, how does this edition of Suda51’s classic hold up today?
An endearing plot full of schlock
If you’ve never experienced No More Heroes, it has a relatively simple story. You control Travis Touchdown, a pervy loser who is broke. After meeting a woman in a bar named Silvia Christel, he goes to assassinate a drifter for some dough using his lightsaber… er, beam katana. Upon completing the mission, Silvia shows up and informs Travis he is the 11th ranked assassin in the United States. If Travis can beat the rest of the killers, not only will he be number one, but he might get to score with Silvia. And that’s the protagonist’s entire motivation.
As Mr. Touchdown advances through the ranks, he’ll visit various locales and learn about the different assassins on his list. Travis will explore schools, stadiums, beaches, and movie studios on his quest to the top of the mountain. Every boss has a flair for the dramatic, Travis constantly gets dunked on, and dialogue is noticeably laughable. However, it’s so bad that it’s endearing. Also, the game as a whole has a ton of character. You’d be hard-pressed to find a title as stylish and campy as this one.
All aboard the No More Heroes gameplay loop
Before you enter an antagonist’s lair, it’s important to complete the No More Heroes gameplay loop. It goes as follows:
- Ride around the town of Santa Destroy and head to the part-time job office.
- Take a job to earn money. (These range from collecting coconuts to cleaning up graffiti.)
- Earn extra cash by visiting the assassination office and completing timed battle events.
- Pay the service fee to open up the next ranked fight.
- Use your leftover funds to purchase beam katana upgrades, clothing, strength training lessons, and videos to unlock wrestling moves.
- Enter the ranked fight mission and kill the boss.
That pretty much covers it. There are some slight variations, including going dumpster diving for loose change/T-shirts and finding dodge balls to unlock special abilities, but the above list is a good indication of how a playthrough of No More Heroes goes.
Likewise, every stage has a basic flow. Travis will traverse linear corridors slicing through waves of henchmen with gratuitous amounts of blood. Using the detached Joy-Con with motion controls turned on (the right way to play), players will mash the A button to chip away at an adversary’s health, performing a killing blow at the end by thrusting your controller in a random direction. Add blocks, dodges, charge attacks, timed special moves, and wrestling throws to the mix, and you’ve got a solid battle system.
Along your journey to a boss, you’ll destroy chests to find trading cards, health, and batteries for your beam katana. (Otherwise, you’ll have to perform a jerking motion to charge it.) Before the battle, you’ll remember a new wrestling move and can save your progress at a toilet. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the game’s stages.
Old issues are still prevalent
Sadly, the problems that plagued the Wii release of No More Heroes are still present here. The overworld is a barren wasteland with not much to do. Strength training and performing jobs are tedious. Levels are linear and boxed in. Hit detection can be literally hit or miss. You can’t quickly retry a failed battle event. There are no autosaves. And unique to this release, Silvia’s phone calls no longer come through a speaker as they did with the Wiimote!
Regardless, No More Heroes is still a blast to play. There’s something so satisfying about swinging your hands to slice someone in two. It has blemishes, for sure, but its main gameplay and sense of style win out in the end. The Switch release is the definitive version, bar none, so check it out if you like quirky adventures.
A review code was provided by the publisher.