Tuesday, February 05, 2008

No More Heroes


Not a word I use often, or ever. I'm not one of the shiny, happy people. I was a curmudgeon when I was in the ninth grade. The Grinch calls me for advice.

When I play No More Heroes, though, that's the only word to describe how I feel.

I finished the game last night, and it's one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had. It's hyperbolic, totally over-the-top, and creative in the extreme. It's full of color. It's vibrant. It's a mash-up and send-up of so many things that, at times, it's hard to even keep track of them all. It's laugh-out-loud funny, the funniest game I've ever played.

And it has style. It has style like Niagra Falls has water.

Before I go on, let me list what's wrong with this game. The jaggies are awful. The frame rate is clunky at times. The side-missions get monotonous toward the end of the game.

Does any of this matter? Hell, no. This game is so energetic, so buoyant, that there's no choice but to be swept along for the ride.

Visually, if Quentin Tarantino made anime, I think it would look something like this. The more accurate reference would be to Seijun Suzuki's Tokyo Drifter in 1966, but it's far more obscure. So the visual style is extravagant, kinetic, and full of color.

In short, it's fantastic.

Here's a brief description of the story, and I've taken this directly from the back of the game box so that I'm not giving away any spoilers:
All that's standing between Travis Touchdown and the top of the United Assassin's Association are the world's 10 best killers. But with his beam katana and the help of a mysterious vixen, he's out to carve a path of destruction and claim his title.

Does that sound, well, typical?

Think again.

Almost nothing in No More Heroes is typical. It spoofs conventions in games, in films, in society. It's a lark in the most clever and hip way.

Great, great writing. Absolutely fantastic voice-work. Making a game that is a parody, yet still having it work as a game, is a difficult line to walk. No More Heroes, though, does something different: it just erases the line.

Then there are the bosses.

The bosses are easily the most memorable collection of characters I've ever encountered in a game. Many of them are so ingeniously created that they are simply stupendous.

Which describes No More Heroes quite well. In a word: stupendous.

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