Nintendo Wii discovers a dark side

The mission-based video game No More Heroes was released exclusively for Nintendo Wii on Jan. 22.By Chris Taylor

Pop culture author Chuck Klosterman once declared video games the rock ’n’ roll of our generation. Goichi Suda, the creator of No More Heroes for Nintendo Wii, has stated that he wants to be the punk rocker of video games.

From the moment you throw in No More Heroes and turn on your Wii, Suda makes his argument perfectly clear when his development team’s logo appears and says “Grasshopper Manufacture: Punk’s Not Dead.” Suda managed to pack in much creativity and retro-goodness in order to create this highly stylized Wii exclusive; it would be a shame not to pick up a copy.

When the game begins it throws the gamer into the boots of Travis Touchdown, the 11th-best assassin in Santa Destroy, a fictional California city. In order to be number one, Travis must kill the top 10 assassins. Suda decided to go after an over-the-top, retro style.

The story is simple and lends itself well to the incredible manner and flair presented throughout the game. Some of the graphics and sound effects seem to come straight out of a game from the 1980s. The leader board that shows the gamer’s assassin rank screams Space Invaders, while Travis’ life is represented as a pixilated heart.

Throughout the game Travis wields his trusty lightsaber-esque weapon (here called a beam katana). Even though gamers may catch themselves button mashing multiple times throughout the game, the controls work surprisingly well. The motion controls, which are what the Wii is known for, are saved for slow motion decapitation, splitting someone in half or performing certain wrestling moves. The controls are polished and are one of the better qualities of the game.

Santa Destroy is an open world city, like those found in the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series and gives any gamer the ability to drive around and pick up simple missions like “Kill the CEO of the new fast food chain Pizza Butt.”

Unlike GTA, there is no stealing cars. Instead, Travis has one form of transportation — a highly stylized motorcycle. In the open world Travis can take on menial tasks like mowing a lawn or collecting coconuts in order to gain money or missions that require him to murder. Ironically enough, collecting garbage provides Travis more cash than assassinating someone, and both are strangely equal in fun. The gamer can also upgrade Travis with new shirts, bigger muscles or even a more powerful beam katana.

The game loads when players go in or out of a building or start a mission. This would be annoying, but Suda allowed for the gamer to move the little loading symbol up and down the screen to give even the most ADD gamer something to do.

The heart of the game lies in the 10 assassination missions. Throughout these levels players will see over-glamorized murder and gratuitous sexual themes by the bucket load, but they are all there to give the game its own edge. The amount of blood and the number of bad guys Travis fights are reminiscent of Kill Bill.

There are a couple of small problems with the game. For instance, the textures throughout Santa Destroy are bland and suffer from pop-up, which is when things just appear on the screen from far away. And for the simple missions there is no retry option. Gamers actually have to drive all the way back to the middle of the map, activate the mission, and then drive back to where the mission takes place. This is especially annoying when a gamer is on a mission where one must defeat every bad guy without being hit.

But overall this game is wonderful, from the mix of Tarantino violence to Suda’s professed love of Luchadora wrestling. This game reaches into the bowels of masculine desire and rips them out for everyone to see.

This is the first must-own title for the Wii in 2008 and any hardcore gamer’s fantasy. Please do not miss this game. I give it a solid 8.5 out of 10.

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