No More Heroes III Review (Switch)
It is certainly a relatively new approach to the ET ensemble. You all saw that instantly iconic “Goddamn Superhero” trailer at the 2019 Game Awards, right? Cute little alien FU (pronounced “foo” – attention now) returns to earth 20 years after being taken in and cared for by ill-fated Elliott Damon Ricitiello (last seen in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes), but rather than becoming some kind of altruist “J ‘be right here’ but FU is now an irascible and bloodthirsty intergalactic prince. And with Damon’s help, he’s here to take over the planet.
Now, Travis Touchdown has none of that, especially given FU’s propensity to hurt his friends. So this is once again the grim and deeply conflicting breach as you dive head first into an all-new, comprehensive No More Heroes experience. A far cry from Travis Strikes Again’s quarter-bar, this is a masterfully drawn pint of gaming beer, although you may find it has a bit of a head on it.
You see, No More Heroes III has a little problem with the timing. That is, the series is a joke. Don’t get mad – we don’t mean it like it’s bad. We literally mean, the series is a joke. It’s a comedy, it’s a satire. Check out our reviews for the original No More Heroes and its direct sequel – we get the joke and we enjoy the joke. The problem is, there are only a limited number of times you can enjoy even the most spiritual. right word before it starts to appear stale, hacky. And we fear that this third review will go too far.
It’s all a matter of point of view, of course. The elements that make No More Heroes such a compelling series are all here – the tough, hyper-kinetic boss fights, the relatively menial volunteer jobs, the constant breaking off of the Fourth Wall. It’s shockingly violent in places, FU making things personal very early on, leading to a sense of real and dramatic threat.
The spooky empty open world of the original No More Heroes has returned here – albeit now divided into multiple islands and with the convenience of fast travel – with Travis navigating it with his flashy, Akira-bike style. It’s an interesting decision to go back to the structure of the original game as it was one of the most criticized aspects of the experience. Here, you will propel yourself across the map by participating in “designated matches” (simply arena fights with different types of enemies) in order to earn enough money and influence to participate in a ranking battle with the player. one of the highest ranked galactic superheroes. Again, the mini-games you’ll need to play to earn enough to progress are consistently pretty mundane, but not in the awful way they are in the original game. In a sense, it makes matters worse because the mere boredom of, say, the task of mowing the lawn in No More Heroes 1 gave the contemplated satire a much sharper edge. The same task is coming back here, but it’s been made smoother and faster – overall embellished, which just begs the question of why they didn’t just … put something really good in there, instead. The game is structured fairly airy, it’s just repetitive, and sometimes you’ll want a bit of a shuffle.
It’s an unusual halfway house between the arduous but clever progression of the original and the sleek, super-fun NES-style minigames of No More Heroes 2. A side quest that sees you mine for currency via little maze-shaped dungeons is sort of vaguely fun-ish, but that didn’t seem to make sense. You could argue that it’s about mining coins, kind of like cryptocurrency, maybe, but… why? The original game was confrontational, aggressive in its theme. No More Heroes III is not. Unlike its predecessors – even the lesser Travis Strikes Again – it’s just a game.
And that’s not a bad thing! Not in itself. Because the combat here is smoother and more enjoyable than ever. It helps that the Switch is pumping out combat sections at a near-locked speed of 60fps, even in handheld mode. The open world is noticeably less fluid, but that doesn’t matter as much as combat on foot and luckily it’s an endlessly enjoyable experience. The enemy models are varied, interesting, and challenging – the designated battles mix up different enemies in wonderfully underhand ways, meaning you need to focus and switch targets with aplomb, even on easier difficulty levels. This is easily done with the “ZL” lock on enemies and a quick movement of the right stick to change your target. We mostly played the game with the traditional button controls (all the better for handheld games!), But the Joy-Con motion option remains available and still as enjoyable and visceral as ever.
On top of the usual suplexes, katana bundle combos, slot reels, and knockouts, Travis brought Travis Strikes Again’s Death Glove, allowing him to use new special abilities such as a powerful dropkick, a floating turret and a contextual slowdown. movement. Special chips for the glove can be crafted at Travis’ apartment in Santa Destroy, again consolidating what was a time-consuming feature in the original game into a faster effort here, as all of the game’s upgrade systems are accessible from a single room. Another novelty is Travis’ “Full Armor” mode, which sees him soar and fight in deep space using some sort of Gundam-esque mecha costume. These battles are pretty simplistic, holding yourself “ZR” to lock in multiple enemy targets and releasing to shoot, but the game feel feels like the rather bright area of the Enders and this vaguely Star Fox-esque action is a nice little change of pace.
All this is very visually striking, with garish effects and the hyper-stylization characteristic of the present and correct series. As mentioned, the frame rate is solid during combat, but it’s a bit low in the open world. The visuals also lack crispness, especially in handheld mode which can feel muddy at times, but never enough to get us out of the game. Thanks to a completely twisty quirky narrative, we found the game to be consistently compelling – strictly no spoilers, but the story deviates more than an episode of WCW Monday Nitro, and in directions we could never have anticipated. There is also some great music to enjoy as you climb the leaderboards; we never tire of the music of victory when we beat a designated match.
Which brings us to this oh how sticky the score. No More Heroes and its sequel both got 9s, but for different reasons: the original for its punk rock disregard for convention, absolute dedication to its themes, crystallized hot-blooded challenge; the sequel for its dramatically improved action, higher quality of life, better and more frequent boss fights – despite losing some of his resonance and identity in the process. This swashbuckling third entry has some fantastic moments and is meant to satisfy invested Touchdown fans, but ultimately comes in third place for us.
No More Heroes III has the flaws of its two main predecessors – it’s a bit more tedious than No More Heroes 2, and a bit less meaningful than No More Heroes. It makes up for that, however, by being another indisputably awesome carnage festival, bullets to the wall, an excessively blood-spattered love letter, and a Suda51 fan’s wet dream splashing the Switch. The story he tells is cool. The game he’s playing is cool. None of these crucial aspects reach the heights of the origins of the Nintendo Wii series, but no one who really gets No More Heroes could reasonably be disappointed with this third incarnation. The joke is starting to wear off, but it’s all in the story. And Suda51 can still spin a very fine thread.