Posted 2008-02-05 20:49:06 by
No More Heroes experience is something of a two-faced, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experience. One face is a fast-paced, incredibly ornate brawler festooned with references to anime and gaming culture. The game part is never actually that fun, but it's relentlessly entertaining.
The other face is ... a satire of Grand Theft Auto's design mindset, maybe. Based on how Japanese game culture, with its preference for fanciful creation and laser-focused storytelling experiences, sees Grand Theft Auto. Santa Destroy is an open-world environment. There's nothing to do there except drive -- with a terrible control scheme -- to the places where the actual game happens. It's reminiscent of the cumbersome 3D computer interfaces you'd see featured in bad movies from the early 1990s, except those menu interfaces didn't tend to be peppered liberally with loading screens.
To go on assassination missions -- the good face -- you pay money. To earn money, you do odd jobs around the city, like collecting coconuts or mowing lawns. The grind loop goes like this: drive to the job agency. Sit through a loading screen. Select the job from the menu. Sit through a loading screen. Drive to the place you do the job. Sit through a loading screen. Do the job. Sit through a loading screen. Drive to the job agency. I was able to put up with this long enough to get through three of the 10 assassination missions, and I got the first one free. It's just unbearably stultifying.
I said before this part of the game felt like a satire of Grand Theft Auto as seen by Japanese gaming culture, when I was trying to explain why the open-world is in the game at all. But now I'm thinking about how to explain the grind required to advance in the game, and it calls to mind nothing so much as the Japanese RPG. I could just as easily say that No More Heroes plays like a satire of all the worst parts of the JRPG, as seen through the lens of Grand Theft Auto. It's the kind of game that a designer who only knows how to make Dragon Quest would make, if you asked him to make a game like Grand Theft Auto. It's also the kind of game that a designer satirizing that development mindset would make.
I don't know which of those designers Suda 51 is. He seems pretty savvy in a lot of ways. All I know for sure is that his game sucks.