No More Heroes – “Dada”
Suda Goichi’s follow up to his chef d’oeuvre “Killer7” reminds me a bit of the DuChamps’ urinal, “Fountain”. Like it, it is a bold exercise in terms of statement and subversive underpinning of its mediums’ status quo, but also like it, it’s as uninteresting an artifact as the very object of its criticism. “No More Heroes” is a post-modern parody to videogames and videogame players that screams hi and lo its scathologic humor, characterizing players as nothing more than geeky “Star Wars” otakus with ravaging libido and masturbatory tendencies, their sole goal in life being limited to getting laid for the first time and becoming no.1 in their “game”. Their “game” being killing everyone and everything, whilst torrents of shiny coins and blood are thrust to the air and a barrage of points accumulates in the score tally. That and engaging in the most mindless and meaningless of repetitive activities, such as mowing lawns and catching coconuts from falling trees. In Travis’ world, everything is devoid of any purpose that goes beyond the blind pursuit of that ever elusive chink chink of falling coins… just like in videogames. Every character in the game talks valiantly about the pleasure of the win as if referring to some perverted form of sexual arousal, and the shame of defeat as if the greatest vex known to man. Videogame pop iconoclasm is imbued in the world, lest any less observant player not understand that it is his world that Suda is laughing at. All these elements amount to a strong statement on the vacuity and brash masculinity of the ‘ludus’ mindset and its preponderance in the interactive medium.
However, no matter how clever and relevant Goichi’s auteur ramblings may be, he didn’t manage to make them inside the realm of an interesting video game. Unlike for example, Tale of Tale’s delightful works, Suda did not design a video game that boldly defies and honestly revokes the medium’s tropes and clichés. For someone with such an eloquent discourse, he simply was not capable of distilling it to a videogame that is worth remembering by all those who would sponsor his ideals. “No More Heroes” is as daft as its main protagonist, and as shallow and menial as the very medium it so foolishly mocks. Apart from the occasionally stylized visuals (distant from the virtuosity that characterized “Killer7”) and the briefly entertaining wii-gimmicks, there is really nothing to engage with here, except the crude game mechanics that we’re supposed to laugh at. But we wonder exactly who is it that is willing to make fun of himself for hours without end and play what is essentially a boring video game about boring videogames? Someone who enjoyed Kitano’s ventures into the medium, perhaps? We digress, the point is that “No More Heroes” might have served as a flagship for the sort of criticism videogames are in desperate need of, and though that goal seems far from obtained, it is still one of those rare games that invite a meaningful debate. We could never have written a critique such as this for a typical mainstream game, because Suda is, at least, intent on a thoughtful discussion with his audience, and not just on mindlessly entertaining it. Nonetheless, the product of that intent is as captivating as a urinal. Goichi would do well in looking elsewhere to promote his vision.