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Videogames: Grading new titles

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NO MORE HEROES
(Ubisoft; Nintendo Wii; Mature)

Travis Touchdown lives the otaku fantasy. He dispatches opponents with a ”beam katana” (a light saber-ish weapon he acquired on the Internet), lives in a motel room filled with anime figurines and porn videos, and has an unseemly relationship with a life-sized pillow of a lucha libre wrestler. (Really, what fanboy hasn’t dreamed of at least one of these scenarios?) In this new Wii game from Japanese videogame auteur Suda 51, Travis is a lonely underdog determined to become the number one assassin in America.

No More Heroes is a Tarantino-esque mashup of classic katana combat, GTA-style big-sandbox roaming, and absurd mini-game side missions — enhanced by pulpy graphics, grindhouse splatter and badass dialogue. In letting you kill enemies with your beam katana (repeat after me: it’s not a light saber!), the game makes nice use of the Wii remote: you press the buttons to start the action, and swing it to perform the finishing moves. Each boss assassin that Travis must vanquish to ascend the rankings poses a new set of challenges and offers a refreshing change the somewhat repetitive slicing-and-dicing of regular combat missions. What ultimately gives the game its idiosyncratic character are the entertaining details Suda 51 seemingly packs into every frame — from Travis’ awesome T-shirt collection to the mocking voicemails from the guys at the porno store: the game is as fun to watch as it is to play. Otaku who appreciate sadistic humor and over-the-top violence should avoid No More Heroes at their own risk. A? —  Samantha Xu

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