I’m not going to lie: I really liked the first No More Heroes — and anyway, that would be a pretty dumb thing to lie about. I’ve always been a cautiously optimistic fan of Suda 51; in fact, it’s become a cliche to remark that he makes bizarre games that aren’t necessarily the most playable things in the world. Well, clichés become clichés for a reason, and Suda mostly deserves his shaky reputation. Like Silent Hill 2 before it, Suda’s Killer 7 struck me as a wholly original and genuinely disturbing experience untouched by corporate overseers. For most, it was more memorable as an experience rather than a game

While each of his titles following 7 have been a bit more approachable, there’s still a streak of gleeful absurdity in everything the man touches. So, when the chance came along to play through No More Heroes again — in a fancy new HD shell, no less — I couldn’t help but be a little jazzed about the chance to dip back into Travis Touchdown’s world of sexy lunatics. Little did I know, this sloppy port would make me question my love for the original.

Click the image above to check out all No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise screens.

If you happened to miss out on the original release of NMH, the game centers around Travis Touchdown, a pervy misanthrope who lives in a crappy apartment festooned with scantily clad anime figurines. Motivated by the promise of (possibly) sleeping with an attractive woman, Travis sets himself on a journey — really, an elaborate pyramid scheme — which has him taking out successively powerful assassins in an effort to claim the coveted number one position. No More Heroes didn’t exactly change the world when it arrived in early 2008, but it was instrumental in showing that the Wii could be the home for games far outside of the traditional Nintendo aesthetic. 2009′s MadWorld took NMH’s violence even further, but lacked the quirky Suda style that made the latter at least somewhat notable.

It’s not common 1UP practice to break down a review into a compartmentalized discussion of various categories (graphics, sound, control, etc.), but there’s really no point in discussing the game itself in this follow-up review; I’m completely on board with Scott Sharkey’s original take on the game, and the essential qualities of No More Heroes have been left mostly unchanged in Heroes’ Paradise. There are a few welcome additions, though: with the benefit of being on a system capable of HD output, this version of No More Heroes looks considerably better than the Wii original — and that’s probably the best thing I can say about this port. The real problem is that it doesn’t move any better, and that’s downright inexcusable.

Now, I don’t consider the original No More Heroes a terribly ugly game; it certainly wasn’t a graphical showcase, but I don’t remember it being offensively ugly from a technical standpoint. Of course, I could be wrong (time is a cruel mistress), but playing the game on the Wii never brought on headaches and partial motion sickness from its sheer choppiness. The same can’t be said for Heroes’ Paradise, which completely collapses when exposed to polygonal complexity greater than a few enemies in a small room. Take Travis’ bike out for a spin in Santa Destroy, and you’ll believe your multi-core PS3 processor is trying to map the human genome. Yes, it’s really that bad.

And then there’s the fact that the original No More Heroes was built completely with the Wii controller in mind. Playing it with a DualShock isn’t as awkward as you’d think, but, strangely enough, the Move controls are far less responsive than the relatively underpowered Wiimote. The game’s famous auto-erotic waggle needed to recharge Travis’ beam sword has changed from a simple, semi-effortless maneuver into something akin to how a tweaker would churn butter. I’m not sure if this is the result of a more advanced piece of technology requiring a little more precision on my part, but the bloody, arcade-y fun of No More Heroes doesn’t mesh well with studied, intricate movements.

It’s shame that this port has been borked so badly; I don’t think No More Heroes found the audience it needed on the Wii, and Heroes’ paradise isn’t going to do this franchise any favors. If you have a Wii and you haven’t gotten around to playing No More Heroes, go for the original version — I shouldn’t need to tell you that third-party Wii games from three-plus years ago shouldn’t cost more than your average burrito. What’s added to Heroes’ Paradise isn’t worth the price of admission, and its moments like this where we need to show publishers that crappy ports should get what they deserve — because we deserve better.

By Bob Mackey