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TGS hands-on: No More Heroes


Given the over-the-top action and exuberant style found in Grasshopper Manufacture's No More Heroes, it came as a great relief to learn that the game's control scheme wasn't similarly vigorous. There's nothing worse than an action game that translates fairly familiar tasks into manic swatting for the simple sake of justifying its existence on the Wii. That isn't to say the motion controls are so reserved as to become worthless, but No More Heroes does seem to share our support of No More Flailing -- sometimes it makes more sense to smack someone with a sword simply by pressing a button.

Here, the button in question is the one obviously marked "A" and the sword is a lightsaber. It's really more like a battery-powered katana, but we're confident that the Star Wars weapon is culturally ingrained enough to make the explanation that much simpler. Rather than get into electric sword specifics, know that protagonist and assassin Travis Touchdown uses one to hit and slice things repeatedly. Said things are targeted by holding the Z-button on the nunchuk, evaded by pressing on the directional pad and ultimately sent into a stunned state with enough battery. (A cheeky double reference there, as you also have to recharge your sword occasionally by giving it -- and the Wii remote -- a few jolts, just like you would an uncooperative flashlight.)

Since your main method of attack doesn't depend on imprecise gestures, there's opportunity for quite a few sword combos, interspersed with a kick or two from the Wii remote's trigger. The hallmarks of fairly simplistic 3rd-person combat, certainly, but the game's Killer 7-ish visual style and energetic animations give it and its lead character some pizazz. It gets a little more involving if an enemy becomes stunned, as Travis can grab his victim and perform one of several wrestling-style finishing moves. On-screen icons tell you which way to move the Wiimote and the nunchuck, with a swift upward motion resulting in a satisfying, spine-crushing suplex. This measured motion control finale to a fight works well, engaging you without tainting repetitive actions with unnecessary gimmickry.

If there is a concern, it's that the game could succumb to bouts of repetition. What prevents this concern from being elevated is that we didn't get a chance to sample any of the game's exploration elements outside of an ominously lit warehouse. Also, the demo ended with a battle against a caped lunatic calling himself "Destroyman" and firing laser beams from his crotch. If the game has legs which drunkenly walk the line between style and substance like that, No More Heroes should be worth saving... up for.

In other, less terrible words: We liked it.

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