Several years ago Nintendo’s Wii got a little title known as No More Heroes from the crazed development team of Grasshopper. Famous for their stylish work on Killer 7, which saw release on the Gamecube and PS2, Grasshopper already had a reputation for creating the strange and extraordinary and No More Heroes was going to continue that trend. Garnering great critical success, No More Heroes had all the talk and hype around it to become the next big thing and Grasshopper’s first major retail success but, alas, it was not to be. The title was welcome with a lukewarm reception by Wii owners, but it quickly gained a cult following and one strong enough to warrant a sequel.
Whether you played No More Heroes on Wii or not is now irrelevant. Thanks to Konami, No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise has arrived on the PlayStation 3 and it has a smattering of new features, which include: Move support, Trophies, gameplay refinements, a small helping of bonus content from No More Heroes 2, and a new coat of HD gloss. At its core it is the same game that was found on Wii and that means a bloody good time is to be had.
No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise puts in the role of Travis Touchdown, a kitten loving otaku that just so happens to be in possession of a beam katana that he won online. After drinking at a bar one evening, Travis meets an attractive young lady, talks, and ends up finding himself taking assassination assignments. Motivated by two forces, his desire to be the Top Ranked Assassin and hopes in getting “lucky”, Travis takes his beam katana and sets off to dismember all who stand in his way from achieving these goals.
As you likely ascertained by now, Heroes’ Paradise is quite over the top in concept and it’s just as over the top and immature in actual game design. At no point does Heroes’ Paradise take itself seriously and that is one of the most appealing characteristics of the game. Whether it is the extreme violence, colorful and personable roster of assassins or oddball side-quests you have to participate in, the game is something you can laugh at and it wants you to laugh at it. It may be crude humor – like sitting on the toilet to save – but it caters to the niche audience that the game is targeting.
Combat is the heart and soul of the game. While fast paced and intense, the combat is rather simplistic in nature but highly satisfying nevertheless. Designed with motion controls in mind, the ideal way to play the title is with Move as it provides the most gratifying means of slicing an opponent to shreds with your own two hands, however, the option to play with a Dual Shock controller is there for those whom may prefer that method. Oddly enough, using a Dual Shock controller will lead some response lag that can be distracting during combat. Move controls are far more responsive and are the best way to play the game. A regular PS3 controller is workable if Move isn’t an option, but be ready from some odd spots of button lag.
Slicing peons is a fun way to get accustomed to the controls and learn what techniques – you learn wrestling moves to pummel enemies with – are best to use in certain situations. With 10 deadly assassins to defeat, each one will boast their own lively personality and comical demeanor while unleashing fury in combat that will push you to the edge of your seat countless times. The first couple battles may come off as mildly challenging, but they quickly turn deadly. Heroes’ Paradise’s boss battles are some of the most intense battles you’ll come across as you need to block gunfire, dodge lightning fast blades, and wait for a key opening to strike. You’ll feel like you are Travis after taking down some of these Top 10 assassins and it’s a feeling of amazement.
Had the entire game just focused on the awesome combat and humorous supporting cast of characters, Heroes’ Paradise would be a crowing jewel of the generation. However, there is an imperfection that holds the game back from gameplay greatness and that is the tedious side-quests. The inclusion of side-quests is needed in an open-world game like No More Heroes and allows the experience to be more fleshed out but the way they are handled is just heartbreaking.
Driving around the city to earn money to take on the next assassin mission slows down the game immensely and not many of the side-quests are that much fun. Some are acceptable like the ones focused on killing but then there are others that are borderline torture that have you perform ridiculous tasks. This issue plagued the Wii version, so it was destined to do the same with this re-release. Unlike the Wii version, though, Heroes’ Paradise allows you to retry a failed side-quest immediately. This speeds the process of earning money up a bit and makes the side-quest experience more streamlined than what was found on Wii, so it’s a very welcome fix.
The new HD coat of paint is the first thing you will notice when gazing upon Heroes’ Paradise. The visuals are a significant step up from the Wii but it comes at a cost. Just as No More Heroes did on Wii, Heroes’ Paradise suffers from symptoms of screen tearing and slowdown, something that really shouldn’t be plaguing the PS3 version as, while impressive in their own right, the visuals shouldn’t be too pressing on the PS3 hardware.
Now, not all the new additions have wreaked havoc. The bonus battles from No More Heroes 2 are engaging and excellent new additions, as is the ability to replay the game’s cutscenes and boss battles, but the crem de la crem is Score Attack mode with online leaderboards. Putting yourself up against the world’s best can help create the illusion of being Travis as you assassinate, figuratively, the top ranked players in your quest to be number 1.
The big question on the mind’s of those who played No More Heroes on Wii is whether a second purchase is warranted here. For some, the answer is yes depending on how much you played the Wii version. If you completed both Wii games and are looking for a new experience, then this may not satisfy that desire. If you never played the game before and this is your first go, Heroes’ Paradise is the best version to play. It has some technical issues and gameplay imperfections, but the core game is one of the most unique and rewarding experiences available. It’s too good to pass over and if you happen to skip out on it again you may find yourself on Travis’ list of future targets.
(Editor’s Note: A review copy of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise was provided by the publisher for review.)