Throwback Thursday: No More Heroes – An Explosion Of Blood, Pop Culture, And Coins
On January 22, 2008, No More Heroes was released for the Nintendo Wii. The hack and slash adventure presented a violently outlandish coming of age story so thick with pop culture references, one could cut them with a beam katana. And oftentimes, one does. The unique atmosphere of No More Heroes attracted both fans and critics, with most appreciating overall style and brazen sense of humor.
The origins of No More Heroes comes from the mind of Goichi Suda, a.k.a. Suda51, a designer well known for the style-heavy Killer7 at the time. Beginning under the working title “Project Heroes”, his next game was to begin development on the Xbox 360, but the unique control scheme of the Wii convinced development to shift focus towards the innovative Nintendo console. The goal for Suda51’s bold project was to top the violence seen in Rockstar Game’s murderous Manhunt 2, a game brutal enough to earn an “Adults Only” rating by the ESRB.
No More Heroes wears references on its sleeve, with game’s name taking inspiration from an album by punk band The Stranglers and an assassin-based plot from the 1971 Spanish film El Topo. During development, the Jackass-ery of Johnny Knoxville and signature attitude of wrestler Josh Barnett were used as the prototype for protagonist Travis Touchdown. The character himself is also a film fan and anime otaku, having named his mecha-inspired scooter “Schpeltiger”. Furthermore, his hotel base was pulled from Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and the wider city of Santa Destroy reflects that of crime film Dirty Harry.
After purchasing a beam katana (lightsaber) online, a self-professed pop culture obsessor named Travis Touchdown proceeds to establish a name for himself as a hitman for hire. His prowess for putting people down eventually earns him 11th overall ranking in the United Assassins Association, with ten other eccentric killers taking the top spots. Travis views this as a challenge to take on the competition, oblivious to the over-the-top antics that come with murdering the world’s top assassins.
In the fight to the top, Travis employs use of his trusty beam katana to both slice and/or dice enemies into erupting fountains of blood and coins. Players will need to periodically recharge the electrified weapon, which involves shaking the Wii remote in a manner resembling a certain, ahem, suggestive gesture. Other offensive moves come in the form of quake-inducing pro wrestling maneuvers, more of which can be learned as the game progresses.
Between top ten hits, the open world city of Santa Destroy offers much in terms of side missions. Travis’ rocket powered scooter Schpeltiger can easily zoom across the cityscape, running over lampposts, pedestrians, and yes, even trees at one’s own leisure. At various hotspots, the thrilling assassination quests are nicely complimented by hilariously mundane tasks like mowing lawns, gassing up people’s cars, and literal minesweeping.
The release of No More Heroes varied from region to region, with the Japanese market receiving a much more toned down product than North America. Explosions of blood were replaced by smoke, with the reasoning that the laser weapon would cauterize the wound shut. An enhanced PS3/Xbox 360 port of the game would later remove the censorship, but only in the Xbox version, with the trade-off resulting in an adult-only rating. A sequel called ‘Desperate Struggle’ would arrive in 2010 for the Wii, with a third game ‘Travis Strikes Again’ set to release sometime in 2018 for Nintendo Switch.
What’s your opinion of No More Heroes? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! Also, be on the lookout for the next Throwback Thursday where we’ll highlight yet another title from gaming past. For entries from previous weeks, check out these next few links below:
Eric Hall2515 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.