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Thursday, January 18, 2007

No More Hereos Preview by Shvitzel

The following in depth preview was brought to you by reader Shvitzel. Shvitzel was nice enough to give us this amazing preview and is working on more articles as we speak. For now, read and enjoy the following. Thanks again Shvitzel.

Anyone remember a certain GCN title called Killer 7? Yeah, I thought you might have. What has been called one of the best GCN games out there, a thriller that captivated gamers, a new idea from a great developer, is....well....on the GCN. And I’m going to stop talking about Killer 7 and start talking about its spiritual successor. That’s right, I said spiritual successor. And the name of this so-called sequel is known as....

Formerly known simply as Heroes, No More Heroes is directed by Suda 51 and developed by Grasshopper Manufacture. The first trailer for this game was leaked online over the summer on The Wiire. This trailer was quickly removed, however, as Suda 51 requested that any website or public forum have the trailer removed due to the fact that it was just not ready to go public yet. The trailer was shown again at the Tokyo Game Show, this time by Suda 51.

I was one of the lucky ones who managed to catch a glimpse of the first leaked trailer and I must tell you, it was both visually impressive and the game just seemed to be especially interesting and impressive although we had not seen anything in-game yet. The idea of a game like this for the Wii just appealed to everyone who saw it, I guess. The trailer introduced three main characters: Helter Skelter, Travis Touchdown, and Sylvia Christel, appearing in that order.

Helter, shrouded in a blue haze, is seen running down a dark alley, splashing in puddles as he charges and kicks a cloaked figure, this one shrouded in a red haze. He immediately unloads several rounds into the character, now on the ground, backed against a building’s wall. Helter turns to leave, satisfied that he had accomplished whatever he had set out to do until the figure stands up. Helter, speaking for the first time, then launches a couple of missiles into the character, who falls against the wall again. Helter is then seen smiling until the figure again stands up, this time without the cloak. The figure, Travis, powers up a beam sword and repels Helter’s gunshots. Helter pulls out a blade of some sort and they run towards each other. They pass by each other, Travis speaks, and Helter falls to the ground (some say that he is decapitated by Helter as you can see something fly up from around the area of his head). Enter Sylvia, who tells Travis he is now ranked the 11th best assassin in the world and she prompts Travis to kill the other 10 in front of him to become the number one assassin in the world. Of course he accepts, or we wouldn’t have a game, now would we?

So, what is this game all about?

Well, as I’ve told you, Sylvia here prompts Travis to become the number one assassin in the world. She works for the UAA (presumably United Assassins Association), an organization responsible for organizing and recording tabs on all the assassins in the world. They are also the ones ranking them. So, Travis now wants to become the number one assassin. But what’s the deal on Travis

Travis is an otaku, a geek who is obsessed with computers, anime, and manga. Just by looking at the picture above and especially the shirt, you can pretty much see that he likes anime. Travis wins this beam katana on an online auction and immediately thinks, “Hey, I’ve got a sword. I should become a hitman!” Well, there might be more to it than that, but as it stands, that’s pretty much how the story starts. After taking out Helter, he becomes the 11th best assassin in the world and he sets out to become the number one assassin with his trusty beam katana.

The game takes place in the city of Santa Destroy, a modern looking city set somewhere on the western coast of the United States in California and has a cel-shaded look to it. Each day begins as Travis wakes up in his motel room where you can customize certain accessories like your clothes. In fact, this is a very important aspect of the game: Travis has customizable shirts and clothing that help reinforce the fact that he is an otaku. Many of his shirts have anime or manga characters. From there, Travis is free to explore the city as he trains, takes on enemies to get cash, or proceeds to take on big UAA hits.

The game is free roaming, however, to progress through the game, you must go through 10 big missions whose bosses are each one of the assassins ranked above you. So far, you’re number 11 and only one other assassin has been announced. Her name is Shinobu, a high-school student at Santa Destroy High, and she is ranked number eight. You might not expect a high-school student to be the eighth highest assassin in the world, but if you’re an otaku and you’re ranked number 11, anything can happen.

One other character has been announced and her name is Miss Naomi. Miss Naomi is a weapons maker and she specializes in swords. Throughout the game, she will be your ally, creating new swords for you, but you will have to pay for them. And they are often very expensive. What kind of profit is she going to make just giving her swords away to any old otaku who wants to be a hitman?

Well, now you know about the story and how you progress through the game, but you might be wondering how you fight in this game. Well, I’m sure some of you have played Red Steel and I bet you might think that this game controls a little like that. You know, 1:1 movement? Well, you’d be wrong.

This game controls in a pretty cool way that takes advantage of the Wiimote in an interesting manner. When fighting, you hold the Wiimote facing straight up, facing down, or centered in the middle. This causes Travis to take three different fighting stances. To engage basic attacks with the katana, you press the “A” button repeatedly. However, to complete certain finishing moves, you must perform certain movements with the Wiimote as you are instructed on screen. Another interesting aspects of swordplay is to power up your beam katana, you must shake the Wiimote. These controls are pretty original for the Wii so far since most sword games we’ve heard about have had you swinging the Wiimote to swing the sword. Here, you use the controller to create a different fighting stance as you proceed to fight. This could lead to very interesting gameplay and very strategic battles.

You might be wondering why this game is so important for me to type up a preview for it and spend all this time working on it. Well, I feel that this game is extremely important for the Wii and Nintendo. To reaffirm this point, I’m going to take a quote from an IGN article with the main director of this game, Goichi Suda:

“IGN: Why did you choose the Wii for Heroes?

Suda: People will probably buy the Wii and play family games like Wii Sports, so we decided to develop Heroes for the Wii because gamers might get tired of the family games eventually. Also, people who are going to buy the Wii are interested in trying something different, something that's an extraordinary action game.”

The Wii was specifically chosen for No More Heroes (then called just Heroes) because Suda-san felt that gamers who purchased the Wii would want something more “hardcore,” more adventurous than family games and Wii Sports. That’s really why this game is important; it is one of many games that will hopefully break that stereotype and mentality that Nintendo is for kids and is ignoring the hardcore gaming crowd.

As of December 2006, this game was reported as being 35% done. About now, I’d guess it is closer to 55% or maybe even 60% if they’ve been working hard without delays. The game is supposed to launch by the end of summer in Japan and by the end of the year in Europe and the U.S. so it should be hitting stores most places this fall. There are also rumors of online compatibility, from a multiplayer mode to Wiiconnect24 downloads with new clothing. And with details like this about the gameplay and story, I can’t wait!

Expect the game to hit later this year with even better graphics than now. Also, based on current details and images, expect the game to be rated M for Mature. Sorry kids, this one might not be for you (which is ironic, since I could technically not buy this game ).

So, who else is looking forward to this game? What are your hopes for it and what do you hope it will utilize as far as the Wiimote technology goes? Also, what do you all think about the control scheme for battling with your katana? Would 1:1 movement be better or do you like the idea of pressing the “A” button instead?

Speak up and be heard!