The No More Heroes franchise has garnered quite the cult following over the years. It was a series I was always interested in but never got around to playing it. It was originally released on the Wii in 2008 in North America and Europe. No More Heroes always seemed to be in the same category as Bayonetta, a supposedly fantastic character action game that few people have played. After No More Heroes 3 being announced in 2019 and the release of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, the series slowly but surely crept up on me. Now with the release of the HD remasters on the Nintendo Switch, there was no excuse for me not to play it, and I’m glad I finally bit the bullet.
No More Heroes is available to buy the Nintendo Switch Eshop for your regional pricing.
Story – Enough cheese to give you nightmares
You take control of Travis Touchdown, a down and out bachelor who clearly loves all walks of pop culture and certain adult films. The premise is really simple. Travis meets Sylvia Christel in a bar and drunkenly takes an assassination job, killing the 10 people ahead of him to become the number 1 assassin in Santa Destroy. The dialogue is really self-aware, often breaking the fourth wall. On top of this, Travis’s interactions with the many female characters are equal parts funny and sleazy.
While the story itself was used as a device to get you from one level to the next, the majority of the character in the game is seen in the pre and post boss fight cutscenes. Each assassin is really well designed, and I couldn’t wait to see the next bit of philosophical exposition they would spout to Travis before mercilessly beating them to a bloody pulp.
One thing that took me by surprise is the character development of Travis. At the start of the game, Travis was a fun character, but I didn’t feel any connection to him. However, there are a few points in the story where you learn more about Travis as a person, and by the end, I couldn’t wait to play the sequel to see where this character is taken.
Gameplay – A surprising experience
Since No More Heroes is a remaster of a Wii game, I was fully expecting some terrible motion controls; while the motion controls are an option, they were far from terrible. The game defaults to motion controls, and I played with these for an hour or so, and I can happily say they work really well if you’re playing in docked mode. For the majority of my playthrough, I opted for the button controls. They worked better than motion controls, especially for handheld mode. Either way, it’s great to have the option available for both control schemes.
What caught me off guard is that the game has an open hub world. I couldn’t help but get Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas vibes as I played. I’m not saying the world is as big or fleshed out, but you travel around on a motorbike with missions littered around the world. Now, this might have been cool back in 2008 on the Wii, but the city of Santa Destroy felt like busy work to pad out times between missions. A mission select menu would do this game wonders, especially when you get into repeatable side missions.
Each main mission needed X amount of money to unlock, meaning I would have to do repeatable side missions to rack up the cash. Some side missions were really fun, while others were an absolute bore. The boring ones consisted of collecting rubbish on the ground, knocking coconuts down from trees, and petting cats, to name a few. They were easy and didn’t offer much in the way of rewards in comparison to the combat missions. My favourite side objectives were the combat challenges; in these, you had to kill all the enemies in an arena within a time limit without getting hit. The challenge of learning the spawning patterns and what enemies to kill first was satisfying and kept me repeating these missions for money.
Now the combat, this part is unique. Travis wields a beam katana that definitely isn’t a lightsaber. You have two main attacks, a slash with your weapon and a punch, each having their own high and low variant, which are used to counter enemies that block high or low. The main appeal to this combat system is the flashy finishers that are activated with a move of the analog stick or a flick of the Joy-Con if you’re playing with motion controls. The feeling of parrying or dodging an enemy perfectly to then quickly attack, unleashing a finisher that causes all enemies around you to explode was amazing and it had me trying to perfect parry and dodge times. While I don’t think the combat was as deep as other mainstays in the genre like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, I still had a blast with it.
As I said, the most enjoyable thing about No More Heroes is the boss fights. Each one is so well crafted, with great dialogue, unique arenas, and overall have a great level of difficulty. You have one on one sword fights that are mainly focused on perfect dodges and striking at the perfect time, while others are more unique, like a boss fight set in a batting cage where the majority of your damage is dealt by knocking leather clad gimps back towards the boss. That is a sentence I’d never see myself write, but it’s boss fights like that that will make No More Heroes stand out from the crowd.
Graphics and Audio – Smooth 1080p, 60fps
Above everything, I love me some high framerates, especially with these types of games where timing is everything. I’m happy to say that the game runs almost perfectly, maintaining 60fps about 98% of the time (scientifically accurate). Executing a perfect parry, then unleashing a follow-up, one-shot attack on all enemies around me made, which has blood spewing from each one, made the framerate dip, but it would go straight back to a consistent 60fps soon after. It didn’t hinder my experience in the slightest.
Being a Wii game from 2008, I wasn’t expecting much from the graphics. It looks nice in 1080p on a TV and even better in handheld mode, but it shows its age. There is a fair amount of pop in when exploring the open world, but again, nothing that harmed my experience. The sound design gives plenty of feedback when in combat and voice acting, while cheesy sounds great too. I loved the main track in the game, and that’s saying a lot considering its track you’ll hear at every single level.
No More Heroes was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.