No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise – E3 Preview

When the PlayStation Move was first announced, some of us envisioned ports of certain “core” Wii games over to the PS3, in glorious high definition and with the accuracy of the Move controller. While the dreams of a precisely controlling Okami or Madworld are still simply just that, dreams, we have at least been treated to Dead Space: Extraction. The No More Heroes franchise is also amongst the select Wii titles that would seem to make a perfect fit on the Move, and lucky for fans it is seeing an enhanced port in the form of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise. This game was at E3 on Konami’s showfloor booth, and we have our hands-on impressions after the break.

Between the hustle and bustle of appointments at the E3 Expo, I found myself with a couple of minutes of spare time. I found my way to Konami‘s booth in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, and made it over to an unassuming corner of the booth featuring two stations of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise running on the PlayStation 3 with Move controllers beckoning me over with their glowing orbs. I had completely forgotten about this game, which was very well-received when released on the Wii but had trouble gaining traction on the console typically associated with casual gaming. Not surprisingly, this booth was pretty empty, so I was free to play both the tutorial and demo levels of the game.

The tutorial is quite lengthy, but that is because the game has plenty of variety in the way that you can use your lightsaber beam katana. Controls are relatively simple though – using the Move controller, you use a combination of the Move and T buttons to attack, and the orientation of the controller determines whether your actions are being performed in a high or low stance. While the main character Travis Touchdown accurately mimics at what angle you are holding the controller, there are still just these two stances, with no go-between.  It’s similar to fighting games, where blocking high leaves you vulnerable to low attacks, and vice versa. The same applies to enemies, so you have to pay attention to how your opponents are behaving and adjust your strategy accordingly. You use the navigation controller (or DualShock 3/SIXAXIS) mostly to move and block.

Heroes’ Paradise is a fast-paced game with lots of flash. If you swing towards your enemy at the same time they swing at you, a mini-battle is initiated where you have to spin your controller either clockwise or counter-clockwise, and at times when an opponent  is near death, you can perform special moves by swiping the Move controller in an indicated direction to finish them off. It’s surprisingly satisfying despite these gestures not being very complex. This may be due in part to the fact that this game is over-the-top bloody. Based on just the blood and gore alone, Heroes’ Paradise has definitely earned its M rating. Of course, one of the game’s more comical staple of recharging your beam katana is back in full force. For those who may not know, you take the Move controller, holding it vertically with the orb up top, and quickly shake it up and down. Travis performs an accompanying animation that is funny to the right crowd. Thankfully you do not have to recharge the katana very often, and you can eventually not need to recharge later on in the game.

As I fought my way through the demo, I noticed a few things. The game has been visually upgraded, and the framerate stayed stable and smooth throughout. But it seemed that all the enemies were identical to one another, and in open areas are basically blind. They do not react to your presence until you are almost in front of them, even as you attack their comrades right across a hall from them. When I did get to the boss battle for this level, I was treated to a rather repetitive affair. Perhaps I am missing something, but this battle simply required me to learn the boss’ three or so attacks, avoid, slash, repeat. Then again, the original No More Heroes was loved for its story and refreshingly accessible swordplay, and all of that seemed to remain true here. So the repetitiveness should not be seen as a dealbreaker in my opinion – it’s simply one of the few negative aspects to a game such as this. It’s definitely a fun title, and looks to be a promising port for fans of the series. No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise is currently scheduled to release on May 20th in Europe and August 16th in North America for the PS3, and is already out in Japan for the PS3 and Xbox 360.