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No More Heroes And MadWorld Are Delightfully Cringeworthy

Illustration for article titled iNo More Heroes/i And iMadWorld/i Are Delightfully Cringeworthy

Travis Touchdown saves the game by taking a dump. And Jack? Jack...he’s a psycho maniac. The irreverent humor of No More Heroes and MadWorld is just so bad, it’s good.


No More Heroes’ Travis Touchdown and the series’ oversexualized, and stylistically violent gameplay surprise for being so over-the-top. These games could be serious but then there’d be no point to them. The killfest which began in 2007 with the first game has a familiar premise—ranked assassins killing each other off to be number 1. It sounds good enough, if not a little bit been-there-done-that.

The cleverness to No More Heroes, though, is in everything it does to present an ultraviolent world, by having it delivered through the foul-mouthed Travis. Travis is so far removed from being a functioning, responsible and normal adult, that it’s easier to believe that he fits right into whatever crazy scenarios the game throws at him. Light sabers? Why not. Ninjas? Okay.


It’s not a strange leap to imagine that he’s suddenly great enough to move through the ranks. Travis, after all, is a gamer and anime consuming enthusiast. He’s well-informed on how life works in video games, as we are. This is a point the game presses when it consistently breaks the fourth wall to let us know, that it knows, we’re performing all these feats.

The writing is so tailored to appeal to elements of this particular culture of anime and gaming that it does so in its soundtrack, too. There are retro pieces to fit the 8-bit styled games Travis plays to make money in No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, the sequel in the series. There’s also Margaret Moonlight, one of the assassins Travis has to kill. She’s a gothic lolita—a full tribute to the culture, through style and a really, terribly good theme song:

The lyrics school Travis (and us as players), while giving some insight into the fight. It’s harsh, and funny. A tribute and a jab mixed into one.

Illustration for article titled iNo More Heroes/i And iMadWorld/i Are Delightfully Cringeworthy

Then there’s MadWorld which takes itself a little more seriously.

It’s not at all serious, but in its world it’s a serious situation peppered with some not-so-serious gameplay activities. It’s another game in which Ranked Deathmatches is the basis of its premise. Jack, unlike Travis, is efficient because he’s trained to be so by career choice, not because he knows he’s a part the real world, under video game terms. The self-aware humor isn’t as direct or obvious with MadWorld as a result, but it’s there. It’s there in its commentators who take extreme pleasure at breaking down every disgusting play-by-play in the Deathmatch game.


MadWorld may feel, ever so slightly, more brutal for its use of violence because of this. Until that is you start listening to its soundtrack, and realize that it’s a literal translation of all your actions, in addition to the commentators’ own remarks.

Take a listen to this song:

The on-the-nose lyrics are awful when you think about how it’s telling the story twice—you’re living it in real-time, and the song is egging on all your actions, and taunting what you’re experiencing. It’s almost too literal to be fun yet that’s exactly what it is. It helps that it’s so catchy.


This continues throughout the entire game. Here is another example:

Well, now we have a perception of Jack as we’re living it. Hooray! We’re terrible people. But doesn’t it feel great? Once again, this highlighting of every move made along with the social commentary is so stupid but so brilliant at the same time.


The two games are gems of the Wii’s library (with No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise on the PS3). They’re pointed observations on gaming culture, made just for us—handled best for people who don’t mind plenty of violence, stylish gorgeous art, overused cursing, some clever fights and a little bit of self-deprecating humor.

Narelle is a freelance writer with a New York State of Mind. She's an admin of Kotaku's TAY Blog, where she can be found musing about JRPGs, music and doing this ಠ_ಠ. Reach her on Twitter.

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Come on Lollipop Chainsaw is way more over the top then No More Heroes. Fighting a zombie apocalypse with a ditsy high school cheerleader in various outfits (the above is her at her most tame...) who hauls around her ex-boyfriends severed head who is only their to make witty cracks is so much more insane.

Add to the fact they got Tara Strong to voice Juliette who basically voice acted half the female characters in the best cartoons growing up adds in a whole new level of hilarity. At least all the licensed DLC costumes from Highschool of the Head, I am a Zombie, and Deadman Wonderland was included and free which is a rarity now.