Review: No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise

During the Wii’s raucous run, one of my personal favorite adventures happened to be No More Heroes. As a longtime fan of Suda51, this rock-and-roll journey’s particular brand of insanity resonated with me. And as I guided otaku renegade Travis Touchdown through the ranks of the most powerful assassins in the land, I had the time of my life. Unfortunately, none of my friends were ever too interested in giving this stellar game a try, as its graphics weren’t modern enough and they didn’t own Wiis. However, with the release of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise, for the PlayStation 3 featuring Move support, that excuse no longer flies. Heroes’ Paradise presents the original game in 720p with the choice to play with either motion controls or simple DualShock input.

You see, Mr. Touchdown was having a bit of a financial crisis – anime and video games are expensive. And with the shiny new beam katana he just purchased, the money situation was looking pretty grim. After Travis’s once-in-a-lifetime encounter with femme fatale Sylvia Christel, things suddenly began looking up. He’s tossed a bone – a contracted job to kill one Helter Skelter, a member of the United Assassin’s Association. After taking the hit, Travis sees a lucrative opportunity in the killing business, and he’s out to MAKE a killing as he rises all the way to the top from rank eleven all the way to number one.

However, the other assassins certainly aren’t going to make Travis’s rise to the top an easy task. What’s more, to enter the officially sanctioned bouts, Travis must save up enough cash to cover the astronomical fees by holding down odd jobs and saving up his coins, all the while preparing for the next bloodthirsty battle. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No More Heroes presents an engaging story filled with plenty of twists and turns that I won’t spoil here, but the tale of Mr. Touchdown is most definitely a memorable one. It also worked quite well with motion controls, something I never quite got used to even from the Wii onward. But pulling off violent combos with Travis’s beam katana just felt right. Even controlling his motorcycle, the Schpeltiger, was gravy.

Obviously, the game was meant to be played with motion controls in mind, so after purchasing a PlayStation Move and letting it gather dust for the better part of a year I finally had a reason to un-package it and show it a little love. As with the Wii version, the Move controller is to be used to pull off Travis’s devastating beam katana combos and Dark Side attacks, while the navigation controller is used similarly to the Nunchuk’s purpose.

I found that I preferred using the incredibly accurate motion controls to the DualShock pad, which slowed down gameplay for me considerably. For one thing, being forced to press in the analog stick and in a certain direction to complete a combo seemed extremely awkward. Where you can simply slash in the direction you want to go with the Move controller, using the analog stick is finicky and slows down the entire experience considerably. Thus, if you enter the game with the intention of playing the “normal” way I would encourage you to reconsider. This experience is certainly augmented through the usage of motion control.

Now, just because the game is presented in 720p, there’s no real noticeable visual upgrade here. Screen tearing, jagged textures, and unchanged models run rampant here, and while the presentation has changed there’s little to discern this release from the original. However, it’s a treat to be able to play with a larger screen, and even though the graphics didn’t magically upscale on their own, the game is certainly playable. Colors are still bold and vivid, and the funky aesthetics are intact. However, a strange sheen to the characters was a little off – have to say for that reason I preferred the Wii version. What’s up with that?

Everything that made No More Heroes the memorable adventure it is remains fully intact with this port: the rock-and-roll atmosphere, earworm of a main theme, and Travis’s snarky one-liners. It’s all just the same as you left it on the Wii, or as you’ve heard. Free roaming through town, however, to reach new jobs, upgrade your Beam Katana, etc. has been streamlined a bit – you may skip straight to locations you’ve previously unlocked to cut down on a little bit of the back and forth labor.

In addition to that particular nicety, extra bosses have been imported from No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, as well as the Very Sweet mode, reducing popular female characters to revealing outfits. Not sure that could truly be considered as an extra, but it’s there all the same. You may also save up Dark Side moves for use in battle rather than randomly unleashing them, and put your skills to the test in a Score Attack mode meant for all-out boss rushes, which also adds a bit of replayability.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the package. No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is an important modern game for me, at least as far as the accomplishments of motion-controlled opuses, and the PlayStation 3 version is a fantastic port that can finally open up the floodgates for gamers who haven’t yet experienced the strange tale of Travis Touchdown, Shinobu, Letz Shake, Sylvia, and the rest of them…let’s not forget Bad Girl. In case you’re wondering, the game controls much better with Sony’s Move controller, and those looking to see what all the fuss is about should definitely experience Suda51’s bizarre masterpiece the way it was intended. It’s a great way to get into the series, and let’s hope we can see the sequel as well.

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