No More Heroes is something of a cult classic, renowned for its over-the-top action, inappropriate writing, and sleazy protagonist. It comes as no surprise that the latest version of the game is a blast to play. This is my first time playing any of the No More Heroes games, and this latest iteration is the perfect introduction to the franchise, effectively acting as a catalyst to build excitement for No More Heroes 3.
In No More Heroes you play as Travis Touchdown, a young man who lives in the fictional town of Santa Destroyer. In all honesty, Travis is pretty gross. He only thinks with one thing, and it’s not his brain. Travis’ sole desire and ambition, quite simply, is to get laid. He is a man with simple desires, to say the least. This simple desire, as well as splurging all his money on a lightsaber, leaves Travis with one option: kill the top ten assassins in the area, become number one, and win a load of money on the way — hopefully getting the girl, too. It’s certainly simple and, given Travis’ character, actually makes complete sense, justifying your quest for blood.
Travis’ lust for wealth and the mysterious quest giver, Sylvia, is played out through hack ‘n’ slash gameplay with an empty, quasi-open world threaded throughout. It’s not quite as simple as go kill an assassin, ten through to one, until you’ve slayed the last one. In order to get to the battles Travis needs to make money. The best way to do this is to get part-time jobs, which at the very least, is somewhat very relatable. Admittedly, these jobs are some of the weakest moments in the game, yet they feel necessary despite the tedious and mundane nature of the tasks — especially when you do a few on the trot. Once you have enough in the bank to challenge the next assassin on the list, it’s time to put that overpriced weapon to use. Similar to the jobs, the combat is also quite mundane, however it is oddly satisfying. Once you get on a roll, despite being pretty simple, it almost feels like a rhythm game. No More Heroes also achieves the power fantasy of making you feel like you’re in a slick hyper-violent Tarantino movie, which must surely be an inspiration for the game as a whole. It is also greatly appreciated that the game can be played with motion controls, just like it did on the Wii, a nice touch I’m sure for original fans.
Where the combat really does come into its own though is during the boss battles. Each boss is distinctive and extremely over the top, making the battles all the more memorable. On top of that, the combat feels more varied and intense during these larger moments. It’s clear to see that these sections were the priority, with everything in between acting as filler until you get to the larger battles. It’s not to its detriment though, as the intrigue of meeting a boss for the first time is more than enough to drag you through the duller beats of the game, although not quite justifying the prosaic Santa Destroyer.
From watching videos of the original version, No More Heroes hasn’t changed much in regards to how it looks. Part of that is due to the art style, which was never going to age badly anyway. Nevertheless there is still a visual upgrade, with this rendition looking more vibrant and sharper than the original that was released on Wii. It is also boasting a very steady framerate in both docked and handheld, allowing for an extremely smooth and seamless gameplay experience.
No More Heroes is definitely a welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch’s library, acting as the perfect destination for the hardcore fans, as well as introducing a whole new audience to its over-the-top universe. There is no denying that Travis is a character of the past, with his fixation on Sylvia and masculine persona feeling outdated and stale. Yet somehow it is still a charming experience, with the writing being the foundation that the rest of the game is built on. But most of all, No More Heroes — quite simply — is just very fun, and sometimes that’s everything you need.