No More Heroes for PC is a lazy but functional port of a very lazy remastered version of the original game for Nintendo Wii. The deep combat system, interesting story, and color full boss fights make it a 10/10 for me. The flaws that they couldn't be bothered to fix for the Nintendo Switch version are also carried over to here, making it a 5/10 from a critical standpoint.
This is where the new stuff begins for those who came from Instagram, Vivaldi blogs and stuff so welcome aboard.
Imagine this dear reader. It is exams season, but you don't like studying. So you go on Steam and see that No More Heroes 1 and 2 are released. "No More Heroes?" you say to yourself, "Where have I seen that before? OH! In Travis strikes back! The game I really liked!" So you buy it and play during the exam season.
No need to imagine that anymore because I am that guy. No More Heroes is a game directed by Suda51 (The man named after the number of times I miss-typed the "sudo" command in a Linux terminal), and it came out on 9 Jun 2021. What? Are you kidding me, Suda? This game looks worse than Travis Strikes Again. As you can see, I wasn't going in thinking I would like this game, but I ended up finding one of my favorite games of all time. We get to my gripes with the visuals later.
To review this masterpiece, we are going to divide this review into 5 sections:
- Port Quality
With that in mind, let's waggle our Beam Katanas and prepare for battle.
I would usually never touch upon something like this. So imagine how bad it is that I'm saying it. Not that it performs bad, it's just very bare-bones. It's so bare-bones in fact that some tasks are pretty much impossible without external tools, but I talk about that in the gameplay section.
This is a direct switch port, and the screenshot below proves it! Almost nobody uses Nintendo Switch's waggle tech on PC.
The problems with this port start right at the Steam page. The game doesn't support any form of mouse and keyboard which is a stinking lie! You can click the menus with a mouse, probably leftovers from the touch screen on Nintendo Switch. While this isn't a big deal for me cause I play everything with a controller, you don't get to port to PC without mouse and keyboard support. It's like traveling to a country. When you go there, you obey their rules and mouse and keyboard is the rule on PC.
The next step is launching the game. The first time you launch the game, it opens the configuration tool which consists of volume adjustment, 4 types of anti-analyzing, toggling subtitles, fullscreen, vibration inverted camera stuff and that's it.
You might wonder, how would you choose the resolution then? The answer is you don't. It just uses your desktops and also takes display scaling from windows into account, so if say... You have a 1080p monitor and you scaled it to 125%, the game would run at 720p.
If you want to know more about the port, I suggest looking at a non-scientific video about the port quality from a YouTuber called OhNoItsAlexx.
He points out some stuff that I either didn't have the equipment to notice or didn't realize while I was playing.
Now enough with the nerd rant, let us get to the visual.
This is a port of an HD remastered version of the game for Nintendo Switch, but I disagree with that, Nintendo Switch can handle way more than this. If this is a remaster, BloodRayne Terminal cut is a remaster. What this is, is laziness. This just the dev textures packaged into the game and, the screen has been stretched to HD.
DarkSouls Remastered is a Remaster. Resident Evil HD Remaster is a Remaster. This is “I can't be bothered edition”. They didn't even have to go that far! They could just throw in the PS3 edition models there. I know people had issues with how the PS3 version looked, but I doubt their issue was the higher polygon count of the models or the clothes feeling like actual cloth and not something infused with the character's flesh.
If none of these is an issue, I at least expect to not see gaps between the polygons in the low poly models that the game uses. And this is an objective issue.
The bushes and leaves of trees are basically semi-transparent sprites and any object that has anything to do with lights, just diapers behind them like your Beam Katana. The sprites have a weird white glow around them. Remember the time you tried to make a PNG out of a JPEG file, but you can't get rid of the white pixels? That's what it looks like.
The beaches also have a blinding glow to them. Fortunately, you aren't around the beach much, so… turn down your brightness when you're there? And that's pretty much it when it comes to the visuals.
Actually no! The pre rendered cutscenes look god awful. And they use the in game models for it, so why not just make it live and make it look good? Why not render it again in a resolution that doesn't embrace itself in front of the rest of the game?
There. Now we can move on.
What? You expected a fancy Segway to this part? OK. AAAAAAAAAAAAA!
This sums up the Audio issues. There is only one sound for enemies dying and it's this, and it's the loudest sound in the entire game which on its own isn't that bad but imagine this over 120 non-stop in a mission. I didn't mind them, but this one sound was so loud that everyone in the house could easily identify it. But let's give credit where credit is due, the sound design in this game is great. The slashing of your Beam Katana, the voice acting, the weird thing that reads the names, and so on (excluding the pistol firing sound which feels like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas silent pistol).
But you see, this is a game so having all of that is meaningless if it doesn't run well, so let's look at the performance.
You know! This game runs really well! I played it for 36 hours and not a single hick-up or frame drop, given I played on a GTX 1080 on PC in 1080p 60fps. I tried to play it on my laptop which has GTX 1050 4 GB which is up to spec but not to max out the only settings I can change, but my laptop hated to run the game. The gameplay was smooth, but loading screens are like a death sentence to it. Every loading screen would be a Russian roulette between an infinite loading screen or a normal one, and it sometimes even crash. Also, as a side note, on my second play-through of the game, my right analog stick just stopped working twice until I restarted the game.
I hear you shouting: “I thought you wanted to move on from the nerd ran! Get into the gameplay already!”
To which I reply: “Not until I'm done talking about the story.”
The shell of the story is this: You are an Otaku Gamer named Travis Touchdown. He lives in a motel and wants to become the number one assassin in the world for the grand prize of having sex with the fight organizer lady. Oh sorry, I usually don't say sex straight up, so let's call it "physical relationship" but it's too late to say this, ha?
Personally, I can say the character already has more motivation than 70\% of the games I know. Mario saves the princess, and he gets a kiss on the cheek at best. Link saves Zelda and literally doesn't get anything and has to prove his worth to everyone every time he does it. In here, Travis only has to prove his worth to 1 lady and has something to look forward to.
The story is what keeps this game rolling, but it doesn't interact with the gameplay much, which is fine if you ask me as long as each of them can hold their ground. The story here is wild and things come out of nowhere. I can also it's paced well, cause if it was any longer, I can easily see the game becoming samey, so A+ for knowing when you have to stop.
Ah! What a journey we've had! We passed the nerd rant! We've ridden the shell of the story all the way to the bedroom. I… couldn't think of anything better. Dear readers who can comment, feel free to suggest a better joke in the comments.
Since there are a bunch of things to cover here, I chopped up the gameplay section to “Combat System”, “UI”, “The world”, “Difficulty”, “Driving” and “Upgrade System” in no particular order.
Now it's time for gameplay! This aspect of the game glued me to the seat! The game is the perfect simulation of a dude who has to do part-time jobs like cleaning the city, finding cats, and so on. But that won't do! Your hobby that leads to… physical relationship with the organizer lady needs the big box. After you do a good job, you get to chop up some heads for free, and you also get a recommendation for chopping some heads for the big box, so you get to the real prize! Chopping up more heads until pretty interesting boss fights.
}The game promises 10 boss fights, but that's a lie! You only get 9 fights, and you don't even get to fight 2 of the bosses! And to those who are paying a lot of attention to what I wrote, that isn't a typo or a miss calculation.
The combat system here is pretty robust for its time. You have a high attack, low attack, parry, guard, dodge, pachinko machine for power ups when you kill someone, and witch time (A mechanic from Bayonneta for those who don't know). Guard and parry are mapped to the same button, same as for dodge and witch time, they are just timed, react just as you are about to be hit.
You can either not guard, move faster to close your distance and then guard to always be guarding (unless you are on sweet difficulty). When you are close enough, the radical that is a left over from them Wii days bumps up it's contrast, meaning you can land a hit on the dude.
Speaking of Wii leftovers, when you and your enemy's attack collide, you enter clash mode. The game tells you that you need to rotate your right analog stick to win it. The same analog stick you use to finish people off and people in their general vicinity. But the game seems to be unable to understand the difference between the left and the right analog stick because I always used the left one and succeeded anyway. Maybe this is because the Wii only had 1 analog stick?
Naturally, the enemy guards are either high or low, so you have to attack accordingly. For whatever reason, I never saw anybody block my attacks aside from bosses when I got the strongest sword in the game. And no one can't stand between you and your power attacks once you initiate them. Before getting the last and most expensive sword upgrade, I never used these moves because they eat up your sword's battery, so you need to waggle it to gain charge again but with that upgrade, you have an infinite battery. Your high attack's power move is a downward slash with higher range and a good chunk of damage, but you can't hold it forever and only hits stuff in front of you. Your low attack has a low range, but you can hold it forever, and it hits everything around you and this brings us to the difficulty.
I played through this game 3 times. At first there were only Sweet and Mild, and I started on Sweet because I didn't know what I was going to look at. Than I played New Game+ on Mild and just when I thought I was done the Bitter difficulty opened up. When I finished the game on Bitter, I started to wounder where the difficulty was, which the game calmly answered me when I chose the true ending. It was in the true ending boss fight. That guy was built like a freaking tank in that difficulty, but wasn't unfairly difficult, but can't say it was a natural difficulty curve. It was an up hill battle until you hit a brick wall and had to climb that.
Also, here's a tip for you. When you have the option between the true ending and the normal one, always pick the true ending. The true ending is just the normal ending extended a bit more. I have no idea how can you be locked out of the true ending because it was available even if I didn't do anything. Also, make sure to have the most powerful sword fully upgraded for the secret ending boss. Because that removes the need to shake your sword and does the most damage unless you want a very hard challenge.
Ah! The world! They actually mapped out the entire city. Most buildings are unique and there aren't too many of them, and it feels like the source of inspiration for Ubisoft's Open World busy work. After buying an upgrade, you realize that the map is literally dotted with a bunch of collectibles.
The first time around they are balls that give you spacial abilities or cash to buy cloth, videos, and upgrades. The second time around, they are collectible cards like the ones you find in the missions, but you can actually look at these because they are concept arts. Don't worry about missing stuff, you can collect them in New Game+.
Some of this stuff are buried underground, so you have to stab them out, but the button for it is mapped to the same button as the run button. Another leftover from the Wii days. The controller has more buttons than 2, you already mapped the waggle tech to the buttons, just do that for this as well!
Aside from that, the map is just there to put distance between you and your missions, and that is its only purpose. I don't think their idea was that you'll be driving around it for fun because it's so bare bones. This is the most awful open world I've seen. There's nothing in it. Maybe Yakuza series has me spoiled, but this is how I feel about it. Might as well have been part of the UI and save me the trouble of driving all the way to the mission when somebody thought it was a good idea to not have a retry button on missions.
Toilets are your save points in this game, and each toilet has the name of the game written in it in some shape or form. In the open world, there's only one toilet which is in your home and, the only way to fast travel to it is to throw yourself off a cliff. And don't think you can jump from above the guard rails because they have invisible walls all the way to heaven.
And with that we get to the UI.
I actually really like the UI of this game. It has a Unix-like interface for the pause menu, which is almost used for the map. The rest of the UI which is basically Travis's house has animations and 3D objects. It has style, It's not boring like most other games, but the UI for the map is a different story.
In most games, you have a full-screen map in the pause menu and a mini map, but here you have two full-screen maps. One is in Travis's room which shows you what rank you have in each mission and if you completed them as well as their location. The other one is in the pause menu that shows the location of every thing and that is its only purpose. No info on the mission, no setting waypoints. Why couldn't these two be morphed into one map? Does Travis have amnesia and keeps a journal at home to keep track of things?
The mini-map here uses two different rendering styles. One is a pixel arty map like the one in the pause menu and a non-artsy rendering for the icon, so the icon locations on the map aren't placed correctly. You might think you are in the right place, but since you are in a weird spot on the pixel art map, the icons are misplaced, and you are actually two meters away from where you have to be.
You know, driving games aren't that complex and this game has the basics down like Nitro boost acceleration and jump. With a few tweaks, I can see this being used as a mini-game. It's not amazing, but it's not bad either. Personally, I'm glad that it isn't a mini-game because I don't like racing games, but the potential is there, and let's get to the upgrade system and then wrap this up.
The upgrade system in No More Heroes is actually pretty good in my opinion. Your cloth doesn't affect your stats, so you can just focus on looking good within the limits that the game puts on you. Some of your collectibles actually are used to give you new moves are quality of life stuff. Your sword upgrades actually feel impactful and most importantly, the upgrades you get from the gym. You upgrade yourself over there to strike faster and have longer combos, but what I like about it is that you have to mash a button or flick your joysticks to get them. I know they aren't as good as mini-games, but they are better than just watching numbers going up. They feel natural and make it feel more meaningful, this is what I loved about the game. The upgrade system didn't get in the way, and it felt like I had to work for them. I only wish they showed you when new stuff was available and spread out the new cloth, threw out the game for the second play threw.
At this point you might think I hate this game. I complained a lot, but believe me, this is one of my top games of all time for now and I can't wait to play No More Heroes 2 and 3 whenever it comes out. The murderer sim it creates. The colorful and interesting boss fight, the story and the upgrade system just carry it all up to a 10/10 for me, But the flaws are there. If I want to look at it based on the stuff I wrote, I just can't give it anything higher than a 5/10. The lazy PC port, the lazier Switch “Remaster” that it's ported from all holds it back. If the Wii issues where it could have been a seven and if it was an actual remaster I could have said an eight, but I guess they didn't care enough.