It’s been fifteen years since Grasshopper Manufacture brought the absurdity of the No More Heroes universe to western shores, with the first game dropping on the Nintendo Wii in the US on January 22nd, 2008. Has No More Heroes reshaped the gaming industry with its influence or led to a wave of copycats and imitators, like other games we’ve celebrated in the past? Not really, but that doesn’t make No More Heroes any less special, or less deserving of a remake.
By the time of No More Heroes’ release, Grasshopper Manufacture founder Suda51 had already made a name for himself for his kitsch, weird and outlandish games, such as The Silver Case, Michigan: Report From Hell, and cult favourite Killer7. He was also the writer responsible for that Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special ending in the mid-90s where the main character commits suicide after winning the World Heavyweight Championship. You know, after the Ric Flair knock-off you beat for the belt has already killed your brother and coach.
By the standards set before him, Suda51’s work on No More Heroes seems kind of tame by comparison, and yet it’s still completely bonkers.
A hapless otaku dweeb by the name of Travis Touchdown buys a laser sword in an auction, then basically gets goaded into joining an underground assassin league, where he kills his way through the weirdos to climb the rankings, suplexing and Tiger Driver’ing anyone dumb enough to get in his way. At least Suda’s love of wrestling remained constant, along with a love of lawn-mowing, if Travis’ side jobs are anything to go by.
As a protagonist, Travis Touchdown isn’t concerned with heroics or being a good person. He’s an arrogant, brash, slovenly weeb who often seems more focused on hitting on his UAA handler than the life or death fights he finds himself in. He comes across like a more realistic version of how Dante from Devil May Cry would be perceived in the real world: just a bit of a thoroughly unlikeable jackass, but his abrasiveness is somewhat refreshing. If nothing else, he’s more memorable than some other heroes over the years.
Meanwhile, the gameplay is still incredibly fun, even fifteen years later. In fact, No More Heroes has become more fun and somewhat accessible after it’s been ported to both the Nintendo Switch and PC, as the Wii version only supported motion controls. The Switch version even gives players the ability to switch between which control style they prefer, which is nice. Either way, both versions make the hack and slash gameplay of No More Heroes fantastic.
It’s interesting to see how Suda51’s ridiculous character action flavour went on to influence further games too, with Killer Is Dead, Lollipop Chainsaw and Let It Die all following on from the success of the first two No More Heroes games. Meanwhile, the NMH series spawned three mainline games and one spin-off title, Travis Strikes Again, which is a pretty impressive legacy in fairness.
However, with the news that Lollipop Chainsaw is being given a large-scale remake for modern consoles, it feels like the time is now right for No More Heroes to be given similar treatment. The release strategy for the game over the years has been strange, to say the least, with the first game launching on the Wii, before being ported to PS3 and Xbox 360 a year later. Then the sequel just released on the Wii again, and after that, the series disappeared for eight years, reappearing for the release of Travis Strikes Again on PC, PS4 and Switch. Finally, Grasshopper and Marvelous launched the finale, NMH 3, on Switch and PC, only to release it on PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X & S a year later.
The only console that holds the full NMH series is the Nintendo Switch, but Nintendo’s little console of wonders is getting on in years, and could barely keep up with the demands of No More Heroes 3. A full blown remake of the original game for modern platforms could give the No More Heroes franchise the chance to succeed on the biggest stage yet. Hopefully, the Lollipop Chainsaw remake will do well, and we can have the NMH conversation then.
Or at least remake Shadows of the Damned, Suda. That game also slapped.
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