Travis Touchdown is back, and this time it’s not for a spin-off. This is the real deal. This is No More Heroes 3.
Just when he thought he was out, he gets pulled back in again. Aliens have invaded Earth, and after Travis shows that he isn’t willing to back down, their leader Jess-Baptiste VI, otherwise known as Prince FU, establishes the Galactic Superhero Rankings. So, there’s only one thing for it; Travis must climb the rankings, killing FU’s lackeys one by one until the alien threat is finished and he’s number one again. Though of course, things don’t play out as simply as that. This is No More Heroes 3, after all.
Anyone that has played the original No More Heroes will feel right at home with No More Heroes 3. Once again Travis is able to freely explore the town of Santa Destroy, and there are multiple areas branching off of it, too, including one that pokes fun at Call of Duty; a war-torn town with an ugly brown filter applied to it called Call of Battle. Don’t get too excited though; the areas are empty, largely devoid of life and pretty ugly. But at least that means the framerate holds up pretty well. You will have to get to know each area fairly intimately, however, as Travis can’t simply locate each of the ten aliens that are ranked above him and challenge them to battle. Instead, he needs to find and complete three designated battles, then pay the required entry fee. Red tape, huh?
To top up Travis’ coffers, because the entry fees for ranked battles are rather high, a number of additional activities can be found across the areas that he can visit. While Designated Battles throw a range of tough enemies at Travis (and there are generally more available than you need to complete before being able to take on your next ranked target) there are also a range of combat-based Defense Missions to undertake if you want to put your beam katana to even more use. If not, Volunteer Missions will have you completing tasks such as cutting grass, picking up litter in crocodile-infested waters, and even mining. There’s some collectible finding on offer, too.
Unfortunately, the Volunteer Missions aren’t all created equally. Cutting grass is a surprisingly entertaining way to earn some money, as is defending a beach from crocodiles by shooting at them with a tank. But the platforming-focused mining missions can be a bit of a pain, while high-speed pursuits in which you need to take down a fleeing car are by far the worst. Everything about No More Heroes 3 is a little rough around the edges, but they’re particularly awkward and unpolished.
Luckily, you generally only need to complete a handful of missions between each ranked battle as you make your way through the story. After all, aside from your entry fee, there’s not a lot else to spend your money on, aside from a plethora of craftable but unnecessary chips for your Death Glove, and sushi that can be eaten before battle to boost your stats or during battle to provide a range of benefits. What you will need plenty of, however, is World End Super Nova, or WESN, a currency that you pump into an arcade machine to permanently improve your stats and unlock numerous abilities.
Nothing about No More Heroes 3’s open world aspect is particularly terrible, but much of it is simply passable. In any case, you’re only ever a minute or so away from a good battle, and combat is one of the things the game does right. The enemies you find yourself up against in the No More Heroes series have always been a zany bunch, but No More Heroes 3‘s alien angle means that Suda51 has been able to get even more creative. Your foes here are truly outlandish, and you’ll need to come up with unique tactics to take on each and every one of them.
Travis’ beam katana will get a lot of use throughout the game, though some will be disappointed to hear that he only has access to one this time around. He does gain a range of abilities to use in tandem with it, however, ranging from a powerful dropkick to a Star Wars-esque force push. Stunned enemies can be assaulted with a range of wrestling moves, too, while getting lucky with the slots that pop up after performing certain actions can provide a range of combat bonuses including temporary invincibility and an armoured suit for Travis to don for a short while. Viewtiful Joe fans will get a kick out of that in particular.
Some battles will even see Travis don the same armoured suit to engage large enemies in combat in space. Reminiscent of shooters such a Daemon X Machina, in these battles you’ll need to move around your oversized targets, locking on before unleashing a bevvy of missiles. A powerful beam can also be focused on enemy weak points, but the meter that powers it is also used to boost-dash out of the way of powerful enemy attacks. Needless to say, such battles provide a bit of welcome variety and are implemented rather well.
Variety is something that No More Heroes 3 excels at overall, actually. That, and its ability to surprise you by pulling the rug out from under your feet. Each and every ranked battle you undertake has something new to offer – it’s rarely just a standard boss battle. You’ll find yourself roaming dark halls from a first-person viewpoint before one encounter, for example, and engaging in a game of musical chairs before another. You’re always kept on your toes, and when it finally does come down to hitting something with your sword, there’s always a twist to make the battle feel unique and often rather epic.
Ultimately though, it’s the typical Suda51 madness that makes No More Heroes 3 the unmissable rollercoaster ride that fans were expecting. It may be rough around the edges, but it just feeds into the punk ethos that the game revels in. This is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously but still somehow makes you feel for its characters – even though you’ve known some of them for less than five minutes. It’s filled with foul language, excessive violence and scenes of people doing nothing but sitting on a couch talking about Takashi Miike films. It’s full of soul and absolutely crazy, and all the better for it.
No More Heroes fans will absolutely adore No More Heroes 3 – it’s no doubt the best game in the series so far. And while it’s better to go into it with prior knowledge of the series, Switch gamers looking for an action-packed adventure that offers something entirely unique might also want to consider picking it up. Its open world might be a bit sparse, and the activities within it range in quality, but at least the combat is always brilliant. The ranked battles are the real draw here though, as well as the unpredictable gameplay elements they bring with them and the story scenes they’re sandwiched in between. They’ll suck you in and won’t let you go until the credits roll.
No More Heroes 3 Review: GameSpew’s Score