Did you ever wish to battle the top assassins in Santa Destroy but you didn’t have a Wii? Do not fear, because No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is out on the PS3. Did I say “do not fear?” I meant “run for the hills” because this spit-shined hunk of bugs isn’t really worth your time. That is, unless you are a die hard fan of the series and would love to see the main character save his game by dropping his pants in splendid high definition.
Developer: AQ Interactive, Feelplus, Grasshopper Manufacture
Genre: Lightsaber-Assassin-with-Attitude Simulator
Release Date: August 16, 2011
ESRB Rating: Mature
No More Heroes was a Wii game developed by the exceedingly eccentric Suda 51. The Wii original has been given a bit of polish, stuffed with some extras from the sequel and repackaged for the PS3. Those of you who missed out on this really strange game back when it was first released now have a chance to experience Santa Destroy as Travis Touchdown, a wise-mouthed man/boy with an anime obsession and a cat.
No More Heroes was one of the most original and unique games to come out on the Wii. It was also one of the first Mature-rated titles for the system, which paved the way for the likes of MadWorld, House of the Dead: Overkill, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and others. No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise takes that M rating and runs with it… hard. Anything and everything you can think to throw into a mature title is on display for your viewing and gaming pleasure. Swears fly almost as often as heads. There are Kill Bill-style spurting fountains of blood that cover the screen when you slice your opponent clean in half. Also, Travis Touchdown is more or less a total shut-in, so his obsession with sex and desperation to get laid is referenced again and again.
Whether you enjoyed the original or not, there are some serious issues with this port. First off, the controls for the Move are vague and numb. You point Travis at an enemy and hope that he will give him a swift clout on the ears with his beam katana. But that is all it is: hope. You feel oddly disconnected, and it keeps you from getting immersed in the game. For example, there are constantly little dialogue boxes popping up. This beats any immersion about the neck and face until it’s unconscious. And the DualShock controls are awkward and fidgety. You can attack repeatedly with the beam Katana and kick. But to completely finish off a foe, you must click down the Right Stick and point it in the direction of the arrow on the screen within a certain period of time. Occasionally you will also have to rotate the right stick furiously when your sword clashes with an enemy’s. It feels almost like you are playing a Mario Party minigame.
Since No More Heroes was a Wii title, the funky controller translation is to be expected, but I can’t help but wonder if this would have been a much better game if it had similar controls to God of War. The Move does little to help the situation and the mild delay actually makes it a bit worse even if it is a bit better than spastically flailing around an albino remote control.
Heroes’ Paradise isn’t a particularly hi-fi game visually, but your PS3 evidently views it as the most graphically intensive game on the market. Your console will start to chug so hard that it looks like it is trying to down an Irish Car Bomb even though it hates Guinness, Baileys, and Jameson. The framerate drops pitifully low whenever there is any kind of action on the screen that involves more than two people. One would think that porting a game over from the Wii would make the PS3 say, “Ahh, I can relax a little bit.” But no, your PS3 will trudge along unhappily just as much as you will slog along through waves of the same henchmen over and over again. I can only hear someone scream “MY SPLEEN” so many times before I try to pull out my own and shove it in my ears to make it stop.
The overworld is pretty much an unnecessary annoyance. It isn’t populated with anything vaguely of interest and the controls for the motorcycle and collision detection are so bad that you spend most of your time jumping into the sides of houses. The town is called Santa Destroy, and that name alone should signify a hopping town full of some interesting characters and venues. But no, it all comes off bland and generic.
The visual style of Heroes Paradise is interesting and fits with the completely cartoonish tone and story, however, it’s just out of place. The nostalgic tone and retro stylings grate up against the over-the-top gore.
Where No More Heroes is strongest is in the character and story departments. Travis Touchdown and the poor souls in his path to number one assassin are interesting and entertaining to watch. Sylvia Christel, from the Assassin Association, purrs her way into your consciousness with some memorable dialogue and incessant banter as she fends off Travis’s foolish advances. The bosses themselves are a colorful group of idealists, dreamers, and psychopaths.
The story itself is fairly straightforward: Travis wants to be the number one ranked assassin. But, Suda 51 makes sure to embellish and twist the story in most of the right places. It is campy and over-the-top which makes it occasionally fun to watch. The dialogue and voice acting are equally exaggerated and wild. The soundtrack does a nice job of emphasizing the action on screen with an abundance of guitar squeals and vintage 8-bit noises.
Overall, No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is a game that you will either enjoy or hate. There is no middle ground. It is admittedly a unique experience, but you would do better playing it on the Wii where it was meant to be experienced. Frankly, Suda 51 is capable of highly polished game and Shadows of the Damned is an infinitely more enjoyable experience on the PS3 if you are searching for a wildly irreverent adventure.
For now, I will leave Travis Touchdown with his pants around his ankles, trying to make a save log.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise was provided by Konami for the purposes of this review.