Suda51 has established a transparent legacy through the weird and obnoxious. An old school arcade defiance, that played a major role in bringing video games to the forefront of entertainment during a transition period in the mid-to-late 90’s. From initiation, No More Heroes paid homage to a mixture of mediums that went against the grain in conventional presentation. Notable for its deviation towards its franchisee’s home platform – The Nintendo Wii, No More Heroes was an incredible shock to the system, segregating its ambitious approach from the pre-conceived notion of Nintendo’s fifth home console was an exclusive home to kids games and shovelware. It began a trend, that inspired other studios to develop original action-adventures that dared to push the envelope, such as MadWorld and The Conduit.
From its early success to tumultuous times ahead, fans were always excited to hear news of a new entry into the series. Suda-san expressed his concern in releasing an un-inspired sequel that would fail to recapture the magic his first story told, but managed to conceive its sequel. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle was an aptly subtitled successor, that parodied Suda51’s aforementioned feelings but managed to pull through a stellar follow-up to the 2007 smash hit. However, the title sold poorly, only selling 30,000 units in its first week, with an additional 17,000 in total. It wasn’t that No More Heroes had failed, rather it fell victim to the Wii’s rapidly declining fanbase. The franchise was shelved for a near decade, until rumours sparked of a revival with Travis Strikes Again launching for Nintendo Switch in early 2019.
Now here we are just a little over a decade later, and No More Heroes 3 has landed on the Nintendo Switch, and I can say without doubt that it’s the most ambitious entry to date – both in creative and literal sense. Despite our ongoing pandemic which has seen multiple studios sacrifice hours upon personal time to crunch out major Triple-A games, No More Heroes 3 may be our first casualty in quality assurance for various reasons. However, in a grander scheme the title demonstrates that there can be something great to come out of a rough situation and regardless of its shortcomings, No More Heroes III delivers an insanely entertaining premise alongside trademark tropes that make it a recommended experience.
Love can be Deceiving…
Off the Heels of an immensely polarising spin-off, No More Heroes 3 sets the precipice that we’re taking it back old school. Not shy in its eccentric sequences, the disposition between art style, gameplay and aesthetic is displayed quite clear, notifying the user that we’re in for something extremely abstract and disjointed. The campaign itself begins with a scruffy Travis Touchdown, passed out in his underwear, still living in some rundown motel apartment within the fictional district of Santa Destroy, California. The backstory to our hero’s journey is told through a series of animated sequences, akin to the stylings of a Studio Ghibli Japanese anime. Damon Ricotello, a young boy who loves to explore woods, plans to launch his homemade rocket until confronted by a injured creature, FU, an alien whom the young boy saves from the government.
Befriending the foreign specie, Damon aids FU in a quest to return to his home planet. The pair build a hideaway within the depths of the forest where they begin to construct a space ship from the remains and debris of FU’s crash site. The technology leftover is just enough for them to build a new aircraft to send the alien on his way, but not before FU bestows Damon with powers that grant the young boy capabilities beyond human knowledge. Exclaiming “Damon, I love you!” to the young boy, FU departs and promises to return in 20 years. Between intermissions and some hilarious colloquy, we return to a vested Damon, twenty years into the future and now the CEO to an urban renewal company known as Utopinia. The young adult sits above the rooftop of his skyscraper with wine in hand, beside the vessel that launched FU back to his homeland two decades ago.
The businessman patiently awaits the arrival of his best friend, not before being summoned to a board meeting. He instructs his secretary to wait, as suddenly a large space ship beams in with a humanoid looking life force exiting the craft, belting out a loud “Damon, I love you!”. Now all grown up, FU returns as promised to reconvene with his childhood friend, only for Damon to realise that FU’s intentions are distorted and deceiving to what the once adolescent had hoped. Expelled from his planet after becoming a member of its Monarchy, FU was given the royal title of Jess Baptiste VI, but the Prince incited a war out of sheer boredom by destroying a neighbouring planet. With his entourage in tow, FU explains his intention to take over Earth as a self-proclaimed “Hero”.
One of gaming's most unique takes on the hack-and-slash genre, with a Picasso-like premise across three mainline entries that are moulded and meshed together through puzzling challenges and unusual presentation.
Deploying his minions to multiple parts of the bustling metropolis, FU intervenes the aforementioned board meeting between Damon and his cohorts by killing all board members and demanding to have the President of the United States on the phone. Not giving into the alien’s demands, FU executes the President by beheading him on live television. Meanwhile, a disassociated Travis Touchdown is busy fending off FU’s clan with associate assassins Shinobu and Bad Girl. Exterminating the team’s commander “Blackhole”, Travis sets his sights on FU’s aircraft, where he confronts the aggravated Prince. The two battle it out only for FU to incapacitate the assassin and attempts to kill Shinobu in the process, leaving her in critical condition. Motivated to avenge the comatose Shinobu, and for the murder of Bad Girl’s father, Travis begins his climb to the top to once and for all, eradicate earth of this deadly force.
I need a Hero...
✔️Suda51’s unconventional and comical delivery.
✔️Pays homage to zany and wild anime aesthetics.
✔️Excellent casting, engaging gameplay.
❌Major audio issues that need to be fixed, ASAP.
❌May be overwhelming to newcomers.
After a slight misstep in its release of Travis Strikes Back, No More Heroes 3 is a breath of fresh air to the hack-and-slash genre, melding a absurd plethora of playstyles and aesthetics that hearken back to its initial release on the Nintendo Wii. From beginning to end, you never know what kind of twist you may encounter, from 8-bit action platformer, to casino mini-games, there’s so much to take in that it may be a little overwhelming to those that are unfamiliar with No More Heroes unusual presentation.
Once again, assuming the role of brash protagonist, Travis must make his way up the Galactic Superhero rankings in hopes of once again confronting his assailant. A sandbox like approach is once again introduced, although it expands beyond anything Grasshopper has managed to produce prior, with some technical caveats that rear its ugly head. While a great portion of the game will display decent amounts of exposition, dialogue between Travis and the fourth wall remain hilarious. But it’s the action between these sequences that make for some memorable moments in the title.
Blazing through the dusty highways of a collapsed metropolis, the assassin mounts his Akira inspired motorcycle, the Demzamtiger, and races towards each mission objective. A great inclusion is the fast travel system, allowing you skip most of the monotony of traversing the dystopian landscape. Upon engaging in battle, a series of techniques and upgrades are introduced, with base game manoeuvre’s ultimately replicating No More Heroes 2. Light strikes can be executed by pressing down “Y”, and Heavy attacks can be dished by holding down on “X”. Should buttons are encouraged as they allow you to unlock special moves during battle, which can be dealt within short or long periods depending on techniques unlocked. Holding down on both “L” and “R” will grapple a presumably dazed opponent, with a directive appearing that allows Travis to perform pro-wrestling moves like a German or Belly-to-Belly Suplex.
Finishing strikes can be executed upon notification, with red arrows on-screen appointed to your controller’s analogue sticks. This will deal the final blow within bout, with your fight ranked by letter grading. A litany of combination chains can be disposed, which also see’s the Travis utilise a teleporting dropkick, that he’s able to obtain after unlocking psychokinesis. Activating the “slash reel” allows the player a chance to earn currency or unlock a random power through its slot-machine mini-game during battle. Outside of bouts, Travis can explore each distinct area for checkpoints which come in form of a lavatory, purchase sushi for health and XP, or take a break from the action to earn some extra coin at his part-time job. The game compacts a lofty encasement of content, but its pitfalls begin to strike back upon retrospect.
Full disclosure, the title would have been scored higher – and as we retain the right to amend our scores with future updates, it’s possibly it may rate higher – but due to an unforgivable amount of bugs and glitches, it could not be overlooked. From beginning to end, I experienced audio desync issues, video stuttering, framerate dips that lead to the game crashing on various occasions. Completely immersion breaking at times, I had to take a break from playing the game, or I would have the pre-conceived notion that I was walking on eggshells each time I booted. Far from polished, I question how the title would parse multiple QA testing’s – if that – and an approval to go gold. While it’s far from “Cyberpunk” levels of broken, it does bear a blustering bloat of misgivings that can be rectified through patches. Regardless, the title is still playable, entertaining and recommended.
Aesthetically eye-candy, No More Heroes 3 pays tribute to arcade classics within the golden age of gaming. From 8-bit to 64-bit, a variety of comical narrative set pieces are told through respective sequences, alongside an insanely fitting soundtrack. While it can be a visually rough game, these intermissions are a welcome treat that coincide with the title’s campaign. Most notable are the cast that portray the characters, with the all too familiar vocals of the incomparable Matthew Mercer (Critical Role, Persona 5 Royal) as the Narrator, while one of the all-time greats in the industry Robin Atkin Downes (Uncharted 2, Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart) returns as Travis Touchdown. Max Mittelman (Final Fantasy VII: Remake, Persona 5 Royal) shows his astounding range as the savvy businessman Damon Riccitello, while Steve Blum (Toonami, Mortal Kombat) burls his booming vocals for a minor cameo.
No More Heroes 3 is a delight. Putting aside its errors, the title is an excellent send off for Travis Touchdown and his series of enigmatic escapades through Santa Destroy. One of gaming’s most unique takes on the hack-and-slash genre, with a Picasso-like premise across three mainline entries that are moulded and meshed together through puzzling challenges and unusual presentation. An identity that will remain enclosed, and a staple for the unconventional tact Suda-san carries through his mysterious and creative legacy. For those that have yet to experience the insanity that is No More Heroes, I would highly recommend checking out its prequels before jumping into No More Heroes 3. A culmination of an exemplary action game that displaces normality by throwing caution to the wind and going rogue against conformity.
No More Heroes III is a 2021 action-adventure hack-and-slash video game developed and published by Grasshopper Manufacture for Nintendo Switch. It is the fourth and final installment in the franchise and the third entry in the mainline No More Heroes series.