06 April 2008

No More Heroes

This is a game for the Wii. I'd pretty unreservedly recommend that anyone who owns the console buy it (unless anything I am about to say turns you off straight away).

It's a lightsaber (well, beam katana) fighting game in which you control Travis Touchdown (who is definitely a protagonist rather than a hero, as the title suggests). Having won a beam katana in an online auction, he is challenged to kill some guy by a sexy girl. This done, he is told that he is now #11 ranked assassin in the world and that he needs to off numbers 1 to 10 next. He carries on with gusto, in the hopes of sleeping with the girl (who is also absolutely crazy, it turns out). So much for the story - it's not really that important.

The game throws you into the first boss level right away, with many minions to waste before going after #10. Then you get let loose in the town, which is like a funnier version of Grand Theft Auto (just looking at the names of things is funny... Suplex Burger, Tyrannomarket Rex and Cafe Gloom are my favorites so far... oh yes, and Go Commando Army Surplus). There's a fee to pay to set up each boss fight, so you have to spend a while doing freelance assassination missions and other odd jobs to make money before you can sign up. The odd jobs are strange and hilarious (lawn mowing, mine clearing, pumping petrol, etc). There's also all kinds of collectibles - trading cards for luchadors, t shirts (they're numbered, and I have #83 or so), etc. You find these in various places - alleyways, dumpsters, buried treasure, boss levels, etc.

It also glories in absurdity. Travis talks to you directly, and speech bubbles appear by him to tell you when special button presses/remote movements are required. The HUD is all in fantastic fake 8-bit pixellation, and little midi tones and tunes abound when you pick stuff up etc. It's a collection of game in-jokes, as well as plenty of humour on the dodgy side of taste. The main example is save points - Travis needs to go to the toilet to save the game. As the story goes on the characters say stranger and stranger stuff. At halfway through I can't begin to imagine how it's going to be by the end.

The other chief thing is that the fighting is a lot of fun. The basic system is nunchuk stick to move, A to attack with beam katana and B to punch or kick, D-pad for evade. Holding the remote up or down switches you to high or low stance to defend yourself or get past defenses. That's all cool but not exciting. What makes it are the death blows and wrestling moves. Once you have almost taken someone out, the game goes into slow-mo and displays a (big, pixellated) arrow. You swing the remote in that direction, and that triggers a death blow animation. They are sweet. Wrestling is similar - if you stun an opponent with B attacks, you can grab them with another B press, then you get arrows for nunchuk & remote movements (sometimes two in order) which trigger some fantastic slow-mo wrestling takedowns. There's more in the fighting but that is the basic and the coolest stuff.

So far, I rate this as the best Wii game I've played. Buy it!

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