One for the geeks. There, said it. If you're a geek, nerd, sci-fi head, otaku or whatever else fans of subversive culture get called these days, you will be drawn towards NMH. Why? Read on to find out.....
NMH puts you in control of a certified wrestling and anime fan named Travis Touchdown who won a beam katana (that looks very similar to a lightsaber) in an internet auction and through a chance of fate meeting with a lady named Sylvia Chrystal (more on her later) uses said katana to rise through the UAA (the United Assasins Association) and achieve greatness (or in Travis' mind, bang the hell out of Sylvia). Either way, the main setup of NMH serves to allow you to experience the imagination and madness that ensues as you play through the game.
You see, Goichi Suda (or Suda 51 as he is sometimes credited as) and his team knew exactly what the audience they were making this game for. However, although the game orientates towards the tastes of the geek gamers, it can be played by anyone who has a grasp for the basic controls. Players use the Wii-chuck for Travis' movement, the A button for attacks, the Wiimote to position whether to go for high or low attacks, the B button for melee attacks and the Z button for locking onto enemies. All-in-all, it gives you the exact tools for use in combat, making you always feel in control and making dueling with the beam katana lots of fun.
There are also a couple of exztra tricks up Travis' sleeve with the emergency evade and the dark step. The emergency evade can be used by pressing either left, right or back on the D-pad whilst locking onto enemies and is a good way of avoiding enemy attacks. The dark step is initiated by tapping left or right at the correct time when being attacked and blocking with Travis' beam katana. As you can probably imagine, it makes for some interesting encounters when playing the games stages and not to forget the wrestling moves Travis is able to pull off when his opponent before him is in a dizzy state. It is by using a combination of these techniques that the player progresses through the levels, beating down all the punks that are sent your way and finally getting to the assasin who's rank and place you are trying to take.
By no means are these assasins a pushover. Compared to the regular cronies that litter the stages, these are not only more resiliant but have a variety of attacks and ounters to keep you on your toes. Their looks and personalities are no run-of-the-mill thing either. I could even go so far as to say that they are the highlight of the game, looking forward to each encounter. From the karaoke-loving, gun-slinging Dr. Peace to samurai schoolgirl Shinobu Jacobs, grenade-loving supermodel Holly Summers to cosplay, beer-chugging and bat-wielding pyscopath Bad Girl, each one has a very unique character about them and you wont feel like you're fighting repeats at any point in the game (there are evena couple of secrets to fight as well). It certainly helps that the bosses are pretty much as ungeneric as they come and help to add a lot to the personality the game has.
Keeping the target fans in mind here, players will also find many elements of nostalgia littered through the game, from the old consoles in Travis' motel room to the old-school upscreen shooter played in Travis' mind to others. Players will also be able to take either part-time jobs or assasination missions to gain LB$ (the game's currency) to purchase upgrades for Travis' beam katana, increase his strength at the Ryu Dojo or learn new techniques from the drunken middle-aged Russian guy in the ramen stall. Although the free roaming part of the game serves to allow the previously mentioned things it is still fun to ride around on the Schpeltiger and explore the different areas.
Witty dialogue and beam katana action aside, there are a few things that stop NMH from being perfect. I am fully aware that the main gameplay may not provide enough variety and be too repetitive for some gamers (I never found myself stopping to think of this and may be more from a 3rd-person P.O.V). The free-roaming sections dont look the prettiest either but are functional enough to let you know what you're looking at. Also, the game's humour is very particularin the audience that it is targetting and so the point may be missed on more casual gamers (making that a lot of existing Wii owners then, probably!)
On final issue (and this is more a personal request than a negative) is that I wish there was more game (as in by the time the credits start to role I wish there was more of Travis' tale to absorb). However, the story NMH gives you is enjoyable to play through and with a sequel on the way shortly, there's no need to worry that much after all.
By now, you can probably tell that NMH is a game that I hold close yo my heart. I found that as I played through it I not only enjoyed playing as Travis Touchdown but the overall world Grasshopper Manufacture presented to me was one that I would be happy to spend my gaming time in anytime. NMH comes recommended, otaku or not. Indeed, it is game time (oh, and I'll take a blueberry cheesecake sundae with that, thanks!)