The first numbered entry in nearly 11 years and Travis Touchdown is back to be the number one assassin again. The last time we saw Travis, he was collecting Death Balls and working with Badman, now, he’s climbing the ranks of the Galactic Superhero Rankings. If you’ve never played the series, then my recommendation is to stop and purchase No More Heroes 1 and 2, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes and proceeds to be blown away by the world Suda51 created.
If you’ve never played a game from Grasshopper Manufacture or Suda51, then you should one thing about the developer — the man loves video games and potty humour. Everything he’s ever done and produced has been either rife with deprecating toilet comedy or self-referential jokes and that’s essentially the message behind the series — it’s satire.
But the thing is, you can only keep repeating the same jokes a handful of times before they become outdated. That’s the line No More Heroes III crosses over a decade after its inception on the Wii. Sure, the world is stylish but Travis still acts like a relic of the past.
No More Heroes III is the Garden of Insanity
No More Heroes 3 is set nearly a decade after the second game, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. While the first two entries launched on the Nintendo Wii, the third entry arrives on the Switch, ready to stop the aliens who’ve invaded Earth and to rise to the top of the Galactic Superhero Rankings. No More Heroes 3 is set in a fictional town called Santa Destroy and picks up not long after the events of Travis Strikes Again, with Travis returning from a self-imposed exile to protect his family.
To backtrack a little, Damon Riccitiello one day encounters an alien named Jess Baptiste (or FU) and decides to care for the extraterrestrial. The two quickly become inseparable and Damon does his best to keep his new friend away from the government. One day, Damon happens upon a piece of technology from FU’s planet that he uses to build a rocket but that also gives him powers. The two promise to reunite with FU telling Damon he’d return in 20 years.
That’s where No More Heroes III kicks off, as Jess Baptiste returns after nearly two decades away. Having been imprisoned in an alien jail for blowing up alien planets, FU returns with an acquaintance he made while imprisoned to ask Damon to take over the Earth.
Some of the enemies you’ll face while climbing the Galactic Superhero Ranking include Gold Joe, masked Black Knight Direction, Vanishing Point, Velvet Chair Girl, Midori Midorikawa. Suda51’s likened FU to be Thanos with his companions similar to the Black Order from Avengers: Endgame. A lot of these characters are wildly colourful, each with distinct personalities and every boss fight is a highlight. Most encounters are short and sweet, even memorable.
And that’s the entire plot more or less of No More Heroes III — for roughly 15-20 hours — rank up, fight a new member of the Galactic Superhero Rankings, complete sidequests and earn money to purchase a ticket for the next boss until you meet Fu. It’s fundamentally the same as No More Heroes but on a large scale.
Mow all the Grass!
Whether I’m collecting scorpions, mowing lawns or mining the minigames are a decent chunk of the game and you need to do these to earn fight money for the next boss battle. And that’s not all you’ll do before each fight is set to start. You’ll partake in several fights spread out across the map you’ll need to complete, and the process is required for every boss encounter.
Combat on the other hand is easily the highlight of the game with an almost consistent 60 frames per second. Travis uses his Beam Katana again with a light and heavy attack and uses the Death Glove in the sequel, giving him a powerful suit of armour. You still need to recharge your weapon in battle by shaking it (you’ll know when you see it) and finish off enemies with QTE events. The Death Glove shakes up combat by rounding out Travis’ repertoire with some flashy skills like a teleporting kick or kinetic blast and you even have pro wrestling moves to get when getting in close.
Performance, what performance?
You can play No More Heroes III either docked and with Joy-Cons or handheld on Nintendo Switch Lite. While both the Joy-Con controllers are fun to use and are preferable, playing in handheld mode can be enjoyable at times. Performance as I mentioned wasn’t where it needed to be but the pre-launch patch addressed some of the jitters.
After foregoing an open world in No More Heroes II: Desperate Struggle, the option to explore Santa Destroy returns. You’re free to traverse the open world on both your bike and on foot. However, the overworld has slowdown issues and occasionally suffering from visual pop-in and resolution drops. In some areas, I’d notice the draw distance being unable to perform suitably. During the review cycle, a patch was applied that addressed several issues and while performance is better, being on the Nintendo Switch does few favours for Suda51’s vision.
No More Heroes III might have the best boss battles of the series and an amusing story but the humour and tone are firmly stuck in the past. Suda51 diehards are going to enjoy the newest entry in the series but share the same issues as its predecessors. It’s more of the same and while combat can be entertaining and flashy, exploring the open world of Santa Destroy is barebones and uninspiring.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]