Last year, producer Goichi Suda (aka Suda 51) and his team, Grasshopper Studio, made a name for themselves with the extreme violence and sleek style of Killer 7. Earlier this year, they unveiled a nice-looking video of their upcoming Wii title, Heroes. In this week's Weekly Famitsu magazine, on the eve of Wii's launch in Japan, Suda revealed some insight into what this latest game is all about.
First off, the game has a new title, No More Heroes, implying that the lead character of the game, Travis Touchdown, is going to stir up some trouble rather than fill the typical hero role. Travis, a hardcore geek, wins an Internet auction for a powerful beam katana, which he uses to boost his career as a hit man. After killing resident cool guy Helter Skelter, he is ranked number 11 by the UAA, the governing body of assassins. Providing him with rank matches is Sylvia Christel, a French-born agent of the UAA.
The action takes place in Santa Destroy, a town on the west coast of America. Travis can explore the area freely, either by foot, or on his monster machine called a "Schpeltiger" -- a huge motorcycle resembling something from The Transformers. The town is full of villains who have become distanced from society, and through searching for weapons -- and making money -- Travis tries to protect his own existence in any way possible.
As for gameplay, it comes as no surprise to find that the beam katana will be controlled by the Wii Remote. The weapon can be wielded at three heights -- high, middle and low. This is performed by pointing the controller up, holding it level and pointing it down, respectively. Swishing the controller from side to side has you swinging your weapon deftly at your rivals. Should you find yourself locking swords with your opponent, you can break out of it by moving the controller according to on-screen instructions. If you pull this off in good time, you'll secure a chance to get in an extra attack over your opponent. Unfortunately, your beam runs out of energy as you use it and you must shake the controller to recharge its power.
No More Heroes retains the same slick anime appearance of Killer 7, and Suda has enlisted the help of a few stylish creators to hone the look further. In what appears to be a first for games, a designer has been enlisted to specially create over a hundred different t-shirts for Travis. Being a geek and all, he has plenty of shirts featuring anime characters like young witches, fighters and pro-wrestlers.
In charge of this is a guy called Okama, an illustrator who worked on the character design for the opening sequence of Densha Otoko, a hugely popular TV drama in Japan. Character design will be handled by Yusuke Kozaki, who provided original character drafts for the popular animation Speed Grapher. Finally, the killers' weapons and machinery will be designed by Shigeto Koyama, another designer/illustrator who worked on the sci-fi robot anime Eureka Seven.
No More Heroes is currently 35% complete and is due out next summer in Japan. Spike will be publishing it, with Marvelous Entertainment lending its hand in the development and tuning. Suda hopes this game will be a million seller -- high hopes, perhaps, but given the potential of the Wii as a mainstream platform, he may very well have a budding international hit on his hands.