Goichi Suda, better known as Suda 51, is a busy guy. Shadows of the Damned, destined to be a cult hit, came out at the beginning of this summer and the upcoming Lollipop Chainsaw is generating a ton of buzz. Now available is No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise, the PlayStation 3 remake of the Nintendo Wii’s No More Heroes from 2008. No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is a not surprisingly bizarre, although somewhat sparse romp, through a fictionalized San Diego, named Santa Destroy, and in many ways similar to Grand Theft Auto’s San Andreas/ Los Angeles.
There are many similarities between No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise and the Grand Theft Auto and Yakuza games. As stated, the primary setting for the game is the micro-San Diego-ish Santa Destroy where your apartment, various businesses, and the mini-games are located. The unique spin is that you are an up-and-coming assassin, Travis Touchdown, tricked into going after the world’s top 10 killers. Travis is a pimped out, scooter owning, anime and wrestling fan. Without giving too much away, the game is filled with every bit of weirdness, raunchiness, and Japanese flavor that you would expect from Suda 51.
Adapted from the original Wii game, No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise uses the Move controllers although, the standard controller can also be used. Before going any further, using the intended controls is highly recommended. Even though slashing is not done by swinging the Move controller, all of the Quick Time sequences are performed much more easily with the wand. The alternative to quick flicks with the wand, are shoulder and bumper button combos with the face buttons on a standard controller. The sword slashes are done by pressing the Move button on the wand with the position of the wand determining the type of slash.
Travis Touchdown has a thing for anime and wrestling and his apartment/motel room is filled with the evidence. The limited possible exploration is encouraged by the placement of collectible wrestling cards that grant Travis special wrestling moves. These can be executed by grabbing your opponent and performing the indicated flick motions. Between the wrestling moves, hand to hand combat, and swordplay, for a sandbox game, the combat is surprising deep. Even without executing all of the hacking and slashing, the wand movement is substantial. The boss battles are lengthy and would surely exhaust the stamina of most gamers.
Overall, No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is a mixed bag of good and bad, kitsch and throwback, set in “been there, done that before” style. Although areas are opened up as you progress, the city of Santa Destroy never feels much bigger than Mario Sunshine’s Isle Delfino. As if the list of games built off Grand Theft Auto weren’t long enough already, No More Heroes is another title in the same vein. The reduced price tag serves as warning enough that there are parts of the game that feel low budget for a PlayStation 3 game and things like the Shake Weight method of recharging your sword, makes you wonder who the joke is really on.
The graphics don’t come anywhere close to pushing the limits of the PlayStation 3 and some might call them last-gen. The driving physics are also terrible. Granted, you’re driving a modified scooter, but bad is bad. Suda 51’s fans will want to add this to their collection and adult Move owners who want a real game to play should pick this up by default. This isn’t to say the game isn’t fun and doesn’t have charm, but Shadows of the Damned is a much better execution of Suda 51’s creativity and the anime type plot of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise may be a little too much for some western gamers.
No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes and Strong Language.