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We liked the original No More Heroes when it came out on the Wii way back in the dusky year of 2008 because it was crazy in a way that no Western game could pull off. That's not a surprise to anyone familiar with Suda51 (real name: Goichi Suda), the ingeniously deranged designer of such past favorites as Killer7 and the more recent Shadows of the Damned. Since it's entirely possible you're a PS3 owner but not necessarily a Wii owner, you might not be entirely familiar with No More Heroes. Do you like goofy, nonsensical humor? Throwbacks and references to the good old days of gaming? Chopping heads off with a lightsaber (including fountains of blood!)? No More Heroes is for those who like to have their tongues stabbing right the hell through their cheeks and poking visibly from the other side, and then maybe attempting to lick an ice cream cone with said bloody tongue.
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise is a port of the first No More Heroes game, with some bosses from the sequel, Desperate Struggle, thrown in for good measure, and of course Move support since the game was originally designed for the Wii remote. Does this mean you'll be madly waggling for every swing of protagonist Travis Touchdown's laser sword attacks? No, and thank the videogame gods for that. Instead we get something that somehow manages to be worse, but the problem stems from the Move controller, but we'll get to that in a bit. We really loved the original game for what it was: unique in gameplay, unique in tone, and it was a hardcore gem in the Wii's less-than-hardcore library. Transplanted over the years and landing on a system with plenty of great brawlers/action games available, it arrives not smelling nearly as fresh as it did three years ago. If you want our full impressions of the Wii version, check it out here, but we're also going to pull some quotes from that review since it captures the flavor of the game well.
Here's what we had to say about the aspects that we loved about the game:
Violence, sex, things to see, things to collect, spectacular graphics and even better sound, a sense of humor, a sense of purpose, an insane logic running through every fiber - and enough swearing to get your TV banned by the authorities.
Our hero, Travis Touchdown, is a motel-dwelling, action figure-collecting, anime-obsessing gamer who wins a lightsaber in an online auction and sets off on a mission to become the world's number one hitman so he can get the girls.
When Travis saves, he saves on the toilet; when his batteries run low, he holds the handle at waist height and cranks on it until it fires back up; when love interest Sylvia bends over, he checks out her behind. He's a simple man with a simple mission, and his world is infected with insanity - villains include British body-mod fetishist Death Metal; Virtual Boy-wearing Letz Shake; and Destroy Man, with his laser-firing crotch. They are, by far, gaming's strangest bosses, and every one fights a very different fight.
If that all sounds dandy to you, you'll probably be able to forgive the weaknesses of the PS3 port. These weaknesses are not insignificant, though, and they did affect our score for the game. The first, and least, of the problems is that the game has received essentially no noteworthy graphical improvement for PS3. On the Wii the low-res textures and empty worlds were a forgivable element that added to the game's rough charm, but three years later and so much graphical power available, it's disappointing that the only noticeable difference is slightly crisper edges and a better framerate. The game just does not look like a PS3 game in any shape or form, and as a full retail release we expect a bit more from our investment. We're not saying we need super-duper graphics to enjoy a game, but when the opportunity to make the game HD-beautiful is completely passed up, it irks us and feels like a pre-cut corner.
The other main problem with the game stems from the Move controller itself, and we recommend not playing with the Move controller at all. It's another case of the game being translated directly onto the PS3 without any improvement, and without consideration for the new platform. See, it seems that the Move controller's accelerometer isn't as sensitive as the Wii remote's. This affects one specific aspect of gameplay, but it's an infuriating one. Despite the game avoiding the repetitiveness of constant waggle, it makes a horrible misstep for the sake of goofiness while sacrificing the player's comfort: as Travis fights dudes with his laser sword, the battery runs down, and in order to recharge the battery, you must shake the controller. The joke is that it makes you look like you're jerking off - har har - which may amuse you for about a second the first time you realize it. But then you have to shake the goddamn controller during every fight. On the Wii this was already obnoxious, but the Move controller makes it literally painful: you have to shake that thing really, really hard, which means your arm is going to cramp up fast. It's unbelievable that there's no option to do it some other way, like mashing a button.
If you switch to the Sixaxis, you still have to shake the controller, but the accelerometer is much more sensitive, meaning you don't have to act like you're trying to murder the damn thing. Unfortunately, it also means that some of the special moves involved when you kill enemies are a bit more awkward on the Sixaxis, as they were clearly designed for swinging a remote. So neither option is ideal, but we recommend going with the Sixaxis, which is annoying to have to recommend if you've invested in the Move and the game clearly supports it as a selling point.
It's really too bad we had to give this version a lower score, but the game just doesn't live up to the potential of being a superior version of a beloved game. Instead, it's an inferior version due to the controls, and the graphical improvements are nearly nonexistent. The core game is still very good, but it's not enough to just dump a three year old game onto the PS3, ignore the glaring problem presented by the Move controller, and call it a day.
Aug 16, 2011