Appearances can be misleading. Although we've played enough of No More Heroes to know exactly what kind of a game it is, you'd be surprised how many people still have the wrong idea about it. It's not Grand Theft Auto, regardless of the game's supposed sandbox style. It's not Red Steel, because you don't really use the Wii Remote to wield your beam katana. It's not even killer7, despite the relatively similar art style or the fact that it was made by the same developer.
In truth, No More Heroes is very straightforward: a simple sword-fighting slash 'em up with a charismatic anti-hero, tons of enemies and some brutal boss fights. Think PS2 classic Devil May Cry but with extra bits thrown in. This may disappoint some people, particularly those with short attention spans who get bored quickly because there's a lot of running through corridors, killing anything that gets in your way.
Thankfully, the rest of us can relax knowing that No More Heroes is all the better for the lack of complexity, especially since it compensates by having thick veins of style and humour running through it.
If you aren't familiar with No More Heroes though, a quick summary first. You take the role of Travis Touchdown, a smart-mouthed jerk who reckons he's got what it takes to become the best assassin in the whole of Santa Destroy. Cue your initiation into the UAA, a top-secret organisation of assassins that offers you the chance to rise up through the ranks, defeat the ten best killers in Santa Destroy and become the best. Oh, and maybe get the girl too... or maybe not. After all, you're only a "dopey otaku assassin" as far as Sylvia, the UAA's uber-cute lady leader, is concerned.
How you go about reaching the dizzy heights of mass-murder stardom is the real meat and potatoes of the game, although, as we've already said, you should prepare for it not being as free-range as you might expect. Yes, so after facing off against the tenth ranked Death Metal (a battle that acts as an introduction to the game's combat system, complete with opening tutorial), you've got the freedom to cruise around Santa Destroy at your leisure on Travis' rocket-powered motorbike, Schpeltiger. But even so, there's virtually nothing to do on the streets - the free-roaming sections are only really there as a means of getting you from A to B, making them little more than an interactive menu.
Is that a bad thing? No, not really, because that's not what the game's about, although the fact that the city's streets are almost completely devoid of traffic or pedestrians most of the time (and feature some atrocious scenery pop-up in places) is the game's only true disappointment.
Half And Half
There's scope to spend your hard-earned blood money on a variety of frivolities, including new clothes, videos that teach you new wrestling moves, physical training to increase your strength or even accessories for your Beam Katana. However, the game mostly revolves around three locations (the Job Centre, K-Entertainment and Travis' apartment) essentially splitting the game into two halves.
One (admittedly larger) half sees you slaughtering enemies all over the place, using a combination of A Button mashing, carefully timed D-pad dodges and motion-sensitive movements to slice and dice them. Having played both the uncensored and censored versions of the game, it isn't actually worse off for having the blood removed from the PAL version; in fact, we actually think it adds to the game's style.