No More Heroes Was The Perfect Use Of The Nintendo Wii’s Tech

The Wii’s massive success saw many third-party developers rush to release games for the system as fast as they could. Most of these titles were fairly simple mini-game collections which utilized the Wii’s unique features as minimally as possible, but very few managed to follow this formula successfully. One of the most successful third-party developers for Wii was Goichi Suda (better known as Suda51), who left his job working on the Fire Pro Wrestling series to open the studio, Grasshopper Manufacture.

Grasshopper Manufacture was a small Japan-based studio, best known at the time for Michigan: Report from Hell, a low-budget PS2 title that sold poorly, and Killer7, a GameCube title with some backing from Nintendo that reviewed well but failed to meet expectations. No More Heroes released on the Wii in 2007 and quickly became Suda’s biggest success as a director, and the game that put his studio on the map.

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What exactly made No More Heroes such a cult hit in an endless sea of ​​forgettable Wii titles? For starters, its unique combat. Most people who first saw the Wii’s controller and motion control mechanics immediately thought of a lightsaber. While the Wii never really saw a standout Star Wars game that utilized the lightsaber in the way, No More Heroes probably came closest. Second is just how charming the characters Suda created were. Main character Travis Touchdown is such a weird and endearing guy; whether he’s his love of ‘moe’ anime or his obsession with pro wrestling, he immediately made an impact on players.

The game centers around Travis trying to climb his way up the United Assassin’s Association in order to attain the #1 ranking, and win a date with Sylvia, the woman who acts as his guide through the UAA’s rankings. The game itself has several crafted, linear stages that lead up to boss fights with the UAA’s top 10 ranking members. In between these segments, Travis must acquire a certain amount of money in order to challenge the next opponent. This can be done by either taking on special challenges like killing a priority target in a certain period of time, or taking on odd jobs like mowing lawns and collecting coconuts. This balance between mundane and serious sections was emblematic of what made No More Heroes so beloved.

By swinging the Wii remote in various ways you can attack an opponent low or high, while mixing up the strength of your swing could open up opponents based on their positioning. The katana has a battery that runs low based on usage, and can be recharged by either picking up a battery, or manually charging by rapidly moving the Wii remote in a suggestive motion.

Travis “recharging”

One of the most memorable things about No More Heroes is its usage of the Wii’s mechanics. The waggle mechanics involved with recharging the beam katana are just one example of this. The tilt function in the Wii remote is largely tied to mini-games. The Wii speaker is also utilized for in-game phone conversations between Travis and Sylvia.

Both No More Heroes 1 and 2 were ported over to the PS3. While these ports improved the game’s performance considerably, much of the charm in utilizing the Wii’s positives were lost. The satisfying final swing before finishing off an opponent was not the same when it was tied to just a thumb stick push and not a glorious coup-de-gras with your Wii remote. The PS3 did add PlayStation Move support later on, in fairness.

After No More Heroes 2’s release in 2010, it was many years before another game in the series would appear. After Travis Strikes Again, a mini-game collection for the Switch that came out in 2019, Nintendo signed off on a third game in the series which was released in 2021, with ports to other systems coming later this year.

No More Heroes is the story of a game that blew past all expectations and became a cult hit. Goichi Suda’s ensuing works show that there is still room in the video game industry for innovation, and that doing things a little differently can still result in a successful IP.

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