No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise isn’t about saving the world. It follows Travis Touchdown, an over-sexed Otaku obsessed with violence, wrestling, anime and games (he has a Mega Drive/Mega CD/32X combo in his room). Travis gets drunk in a bar and meets the head of the United Assassins Association, Sylvia Christel. She offers him the chance to become the 11th-ranked assassin and begin rising to the top.
When you first start the game you are given a choice of two difficulties, ‘Sweet’ and ‘Mild’. There are extra difficulties unlocked by finishing the game, but for anyone well-versed in gaming Mild offers a well-paced learning curve and a nice level of challenge. Aside from the main story mode, there is also a brand new score attack mode, offering score runs on each boss from the game and online leader board support. It’s a nice extra but unless you have friends to compete with, won’t add more than an hour or so to your play time. Also new to this update is the addition of several of the bosses from No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle on Wii tossed into the mix. They are presented as a battle you can have after falling asleep on the toilet after a ranking fight, of course.
The story itself is a Punk-Rock love story of sorts. It’s regularly hilarious and well acted, if a little cheesy in places, but that just suits the style more. It’s a great mix of violence and humour that works well as a reward for completing assassin ranking battles. The various assassins you come up against are all quite unusual characters, very quirky and off-beat, matching the game overall quite well. They are genuinely funny and you will often find yourself laughing at the dialogue and situations occurring on your screen.
The way the actual game plays is a mix of three different play styles. The part most will be concerned with is the combat, which works great: it feels really energetic and fast paced, and is challenging enough to keep your interest but never feels unfair or overly-difficult. Move works pretty well in the combat too, though bizarrely the controls for the wrestling throws have been simplified from the original Wii controls down to only one motion controller being used instead of also the Navigation controller. The motion controls aren’t over-used, but they feel immersive, visceral and satisfying, and losing that extra directional input (for fans of the original at least) does make it feel like it's missing something. It’s not a huge issue though.
There is also an open-world section of the game, with numerous hidden objects to collect (and more again on the second play-through), shops to buy weapons, upgrades, new moves and a wide range of clothes at, a place to pick up assassination jobs for money and a place for regular jobs. There are also ten “Free fight missions”, a set of challenging fights against the basic enemies where a single hit means failure. There is a lot to do here, especially if you end up going for all the Trophies. Unfortunately your transport around this open world, a motorcycle, handles very poorly; this is a problem from the original version of the game, and while it would have been nice to see it improved, it isn’t game-breaking.
The jobs are the final type of play, presenting themselves as mini-games, each with a different set of controls to mix up the gameplay. They provide a refreshing change of pace from the relentless combat of the rest of the game. Unfortunately, this is where the Move support is weakest: a lot of the mini games are fine, but there are a few with questionable detection, or ones that don’t use the motion controls at all where there is certainly scope for a motion to be used instead of an action.
The worst offender is the Semaphore signalling game. There are two directional commands displayed on-screen and you have to move the controllers in your left and right hands in the directions presented on the screen, or that's the logical assumption at least. For whatever reason, you are expected instead to move the Move Motion Controller in the direction for your right hand, and use the analogue stick of whichever controller you have in your other hand for the left direction. It would be easy to assume the mini game was completely broken, as there is no indication this is the case and there is no feedback as to what you are doing wrong.
Visually everything is very unique and stylised. It looks fantastic, if not technically impressive. It does suffer from some frame-rate issues if you kill too many enemies in one go. There is a very anime look at work, but it also combines a lot of nods to 8-bit games in the menus and in-world prompts for entrances to buildings, save points, mission location markers, etc. into the mix. There are plenty of references to gaming and geek culture, and the game occasionally breaks the fourth wall too. Everything works together well to present an interesting and enjoyable aesthetic.
No More Heroes isn’t for everyone, but if you like brawlers and/or geek-culture it’s a blast to play. There is plenty on offer, loads to do and collect and a very well-balanced level of difficulty. It has a few issues, but nothing severe enough that you should be put off what is a very unique and enjoyable game. It is a shame there wasn’t just a little extra effort put into the Move support, but the Move provides a capable and enjoyable way to experience this murderous bloodbath through Santa Destroy.