No More Heroes 3 review: so much style, it doesn’t need substance
More heroes 3 is made of a lot of messy pieces. It’s a hyperviolent, crass hack-and-slash action game with mediocre combat. It’s an open world game with a flat, sterile world. It’s a benchmark pop culture festival at a time when crossovers between big franchises aren’t that special. It’s packed with dissonant aesthetics, with pixels and degradation of the VHS tape rubbing shoulders with the art of anime and photomontage. This mess can be shocking and sometimes tedious, but it’s also what makes More heroes 3 a fascinating and quirky game.
In its first hour, you watch a surprisingly lavish animated sequence retracing the story of the primary antagonist, the intergalactic warlord Jess-Baptist VI, also known as FU. As FU’s alien armies invade Earth, More heroes 3 throws you into a combat tutorial. The rest of the intro (and the entire game) unfolds like an animated series, with an amazing opening title streak and chapters divided by credit streaks that end with a “3-in-a-row next episode.” .. 2 .. … 1 … “After the introductory” episode “airs, you watch protagonist Travis Touchdown and his friend Bishop talk about their favorite Takashi Miike movies for a while. Then you are thrown into the game itself. It all feels like a multimedia art project that includes interactive elements.
Which is good, because most of what you do in between those haunting stylistic flourishes is standard hack-and-slash combat and open-world side missions. Instead of climbing up the United Assassins Association rankings just to become the world’s biggest killer, Travis must dodge an alien invasion by climbing the ranks again, now filled with FU’s best buddies. However, he still has to pay to participate in every boss fight, which means he has to earn money in the game’s open world by completing mini-games and fighting alien fodder.
These fights and part-time jobs, along with some exploration of the open world, make up the bulk of the game’s runtime. Most combat missions have you facing two or three waves of two to five enemies each. . The first few fights take as long to get in and out as they do to finish, thanks to both the shortness of the fights and the longevity of the transient animations and loading screens. During actual combat, it’s nice to string together light and heavy attacks, throws, and special “Death Drive” moves to melt enemy health bars, but combat can also feel finicky. Special moves often breathe, and enemies can hit you while you’re knocked down or even in the middle of the cool slowing effect that happens whenever you dodge an enemy’s attack.
The big draw of previous No More Heroes games was the ranking fights, the big boss battles that ended the open world and the fighting. In More heroes 3, they are no longer the main event. Even though the new generation of assassins are made up of weird aliens, they’re pretty bland compared to villains from previous games. A few of them spark genuinely new fights – one involves a rendition of musical chairs, for example – but they’re often overshadowed by the overall conflict between Travis, his friends, and FU.
The city of Santa Destroy is not what it used to be either. It has been replaced by five smaller open-world areas that mimic other gaming franchises; for example, an area filled with bombed out buildings and trenches is called a “Call of Battle”. The textures of these worlds feel muddy and the outer sections seem uninspired and lifeless, making exploring these areas for all their secrets boring.
So the fights, mini-games, and open-world exploration aren’t convincing. Corn More heroes 3 is so good to make anything you do feel cool it almost doesn’t matter. I never dreaded raising money for the next ranking fight; the game is about mowing lawns, picking up trash and raising awareness of “road safety awareness” by ramming cars at surprisingly stylish racing events. The garbage collection mini-game even lets you supplex a few alligators as you wade through submerged landfills. I wasn’t into combat so much for actual combat as for its looks and vibrant sound – a mighty sting ends every encounter with the word “KILL” written in giant, bold, pixelated text while a jagged guitar riff. play. The soundtrack is mainly made up of bangers. These disparate chunks of cool are small, but the game is so packed with these fantastic touches it’s a joy to just enjoy its vibes. The more mechanical elements here are like scaffolding to support the spread of these vibrations, and somehow it works.
Throughout it all, you watch Travis and Bishop espouse their love for their favorite movies, comics, and TV shows through the large number of references on display. This love of nerd culture, one of the pillars of No More Heroes’ style, resonates differently in 2021. When does the original game play? released in 2008, the idea of a stylish action game in which you play an unrepentant otaku like Travis always seemed new. His cramped apartment, filled with posters, luchador masks and anime statues, contrasted with the modest affections of many other “everyone” murderers like Uncharted’s Nathan Drake. Having an interlude in which you played a shooter based on a fictional magical girl anime was a real surprise. It was a play on how cool it was to be a nerd who hit it right before the first MCU movie, Iron Man, came out of. Nerddom wasn’t marginal, but it was going to take a little longer to really get mainstream.
Nowadays, Doja Cat is an ambassador of the game for her fans. Henry Cavill builds his own PCs and doesn’t hesitate to do so. You don’t have to be sneaky to know how much of a nerd you are. The types of references No More Heroes makes are downright subtle in a world where Superman throws in with Master Chief in Fortnite, RoboCop fires rockets at the Terminator while Mortal combat 11, and Loan Player One exist. So when an enemy in More heroes 3 hatched from the same eggs that gave birth to Alien’s xenomorphs, or the guide character Sylvia Christel comes across as an imitation of Captain Marvel or Bond Girl for no explainable reason, the novelty barely registers.
More heroes 3 works best when it dives deep into its own rabbit holes. When Travis and Bishop talk about their common interests, for example, it plays out like a talk show; you watch them chat on an old-fashioned television, with cartoons of Akira Toriyama appearing as the dials turn. They talk at length about the genius of Takashi Miike, breathtaking Ichi the killer, 13 Assassins, and Visitor Q. They talk about tokusatsu series; they evoke casually Votoms of the armored soldiers. These sections illustrate the passion that comes from loving a work of art, and you can tell that these references are not there because of a corporate connection, but because the people who make this game really love this genre. of things and want to share it with the world.
Referrals don’t always arrive, however, and because the game throws them so often, More heroes 3 is often as good as the last shrewd trick he pulled off. At worst, it may sound like a condemnation of the very kind of otaku culture he’s trying to celebrate, as if developer Grasshopper Manufacture caught me making a pop culture reference and forced me to smoke it. quite a package. Sometimes the deluge of references becomes so frequent that it just doesn’t make sense anymore, especially compared to the more elaborate nods in the game.
When her novelty and her style fade, More heroes 3 doesn’t have much to fall back on. Because the game is so obsessed with showing you how cool other things are, there is nothing to hang on to when it comes time for its finale to take advantage of the story it does. was too distracted to really relate with his own characters and world. Characters from previous games are joined by brand new characters that appear out of nowhere, only to be thrown aside and forgotten moments later. The ending falls completely flat because in its rush to remind you how much you love a bunch of other movies, music, shows, and games, the game forgets to tell you to care for itself.
But you don’t play a No More Heroes game for its story. You play it for its style, and More heroes 3 has style in spades. The best thing i can say about More heroes 3 is that his combat and open-world design stays on the sidelines, letting his style take center stage, sometimes facilitating some really good one-off moments. His styles, his tricks and his contradictory references testify to the powerful appeal of the superficial. I know it worked because I started to take an interest in Takashi Miike films. They look pretty cool.
More heroes 3 launches August 27 on Nintendo Switch. The game has been tested using a pre-release download code provided by Grasshopper Manufacture. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find more information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.