I love this game. Being half way though, I've found it to be a focused adventure game. You play Travis Touchdown, suckered into gaining the 11th rank of the UAA (United Assassins Association) by the sexy Silvia Christel.
Stuck in a game where he can only win (loosing means death), Travis' original intent was to get into Silvia's pants. But after a few rounds, No More Heroes takes a turn I never thought it would. The pressure of remaining or advancing in ranking, the blood on their hands, and the families and lives they've missed out on, all weight heavily on the characters Travis will meet. And in turn, he will understand. Think of Kill Bill, with Japanese quirkiness and you won't be far off.
Style is paramount in this game. From the odd cel-shading effect with harsh shadows (tricking my eyes into squinting sometimes, like I would on a bright summer day), to the very cool fighting styles employed by all the characters. The Wiimote has yet to be used better for hand to hand combat, with a move in the right direction of either or both hands to make a finishing move.
Through the game you'll learn new wrestling moves to perform, which get more complicated and require several simultaneous wiimote and nunchuck gestures. You can increase your stats (health, strength, etc.) by going to Thunder Ryu's Gym; you'll actually mimic Travis on screen for some of the activities: lifting weights and doing squats, etc.
Driving is a serviceable, but fun way of getting about the city. It isn't the Grand Theft Auto some people were hoping for, and it was never meant to be. Think of this more along the lines of Bully, or Beyond Good and Evil, where travelling is just that: A to B. This isn't a game where you'll be happy driving around for hours doing nothing like you can in the GTA series.
This is a gamers game. An anthology of every game stereotype and cliché in style. Travis even runs like a game character, bounding as Mario does from the original NES game, but in a more realistic manner. The sounds, fonts, and interface are retro 8-bit in style, and it is wonderful. This game enjoys being a game. You even get fun arcade style leader board after every assassin bested.
There aren't many negative points. The missing blood in the Japan and European versions aren't missed, and enemies exploding into black dust with fountains of the in-game currency is just as cool an effect. It fits more into the concept of a game for gamings sake. Though it is odd the blood was replaced, whilst the game is full of bad language. So parents? Don't get this if you don't want your kids mimicking some of the very clever insults, and funny answer machine messages.
There's some slight screen-tear on my CRT TV in places, though I've not noticed a drop in frame-rate; it's easy to confuse the two, but they are different. Perhaps flat-screens handle tearing by delaying the image on screen.
Pop-up whilst driving is noticeable, but only on parts of the scenery and textures - it doesn't hamper your driving ability, and you'll be able to find important items in the distance. And colliding with other cars has little effect: both vehicles will just stop. At faster speeds you'll fall off your bike. That's about it.
I would recommend this game to everyone. It could have done with a bit more polish, but I'm really trying to find bad points. If you want a driving game with adventure elements, get GTA. If you want an adventure, with driving elements, get this. And if you really want blood get it imported.