Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
No More Heroes 3 is a wholesome tale by Grasshopper Manufacture, XSEED Games and Marvelous about a man who cares about his community. Going around and taking care of odd jobs to make it cleaner and safer for everyone, such as mowing grass, picking up trash or unclogging toilets, Santa Destroy is a place where everyone would want to live. Kidding!
Having released last year for the Nintendo Switch, foul mouthed and hilarious fourth wall breaking legendary Assassin Travis Touchdown is back again for more over the top nonsense. With aliens having invaded earth, a new Galactic Superhero Ranking has been put into place and while Travis is not a hero, per say, Travis will need to reach the top of these new rankings to both prove he’s still the biggest badass around, and save the Earth while he’s at it. Just make sure to visit a washroom to save your game whenever you can!
If there’s one thing that you can expect from No More Heroes, it’s to not make assumptions in your expectations. Mostly? Because something else completely random is going to happen and you’re just going to have to go with it. This, other than the writing, is part of the charm as No More Heroes 3 often had me thinking, alright, here we go again…? Wait what? Huh? How in the hell did… fine! Let’s do this!!
Before getting to these points however, let’s start at the beginning. Sitting around in his boxers and being all scruffy in his motel room, our protag Travis is contemplating how an older video game title ended as he doesn’t remember and hopes to find out how with a revamped version. It just so happens that the plotline kind of follows this one. Aliens have invaded and it’s up to one person to “save the day”. Coincidence? Most likely, but why finish that game when you can play this one!
So with the aliens having invaded and the stakes set, there’s only one thing left to do. Go make money in order to pay for your entry fees. Yup. Thought it would be easy huh? Nope. There are rules to these kinds of engagements and no money means no fight. So, to get this money, you’ll have to go through both a few designated matches to prove that you can actually pull it off as well as pull off odd jobs like mowing lawns, picking up garbage, blasting giant alligators with cannons and chase down some fast and furious hooligans on a highway with your motorcycle.
That said, making money is easy enough and won’t ever feel like a slog. Can it be repetitive? Yes. There’s no denying that. Where things are fun is that you can do the events that you want to do and ignore the rest if they are not your thing or they take too long for how much money you can accumulate. Furthermore these side jobs come in their own levels of difficulty so if level 3 is too much? Drop it down to level 2, rinse, repeat, and then honestly? After a good few rounds of the mentioned highway destruction, once I finished one chapter all I really needed to generally do were the designated matches in order to move on in the story. Travis was rich!
Designated matches in No More Heroes 3 are fairly standard in that you fight normal to ‘midboss’ level enemies and then get rewarded for it. This is also where you’ll pretty much master the art of combat. Moving around is fairly easy and from there Travis can swing his beam katana around in normal or heavy blows as well as use the death glove for some more powerful moves. If the beam katana runs out of energy, you just need to shake it in a very suggestive fashion, as is par for the course since the original Nintendo Wii motes, and then you’re good to go again!
In game nonsense aside, it works really well. As you use your beam katana and its energy depletes, odds are that you may have stunned an enemy. Stunning an enemy lets you perform a wrestling move in the form of a “throw” which both causes heavy damage and restores your beam katana’s energy keeping a good flow. More than this, to keep the pressure on, as you eliminate enemies you get a slot machine spin. Known as the slash reel, as it spins it can grant you nothing, invincibility, your awesome armor to blast the crap out of everything that if can target (more on that later), or my favorite, mustang mode which allows for unlimited high speed attacks with no worry about energy depletion!
If this was all though, it would have gotten pretty repetitive and boring as you’re basically starting off at rank 10 and have to pay for every ranked fight. So with that, and the minigames to earn enough money for a match fight? This is truly where No More Heroes 3 shines! Ranked fights are honestly like nothing you’re expecting. Will there be fighting? Yes. Will there be nonsense? Definitely. Will Travis emerge victorious in a game of, no wait, that would be too many spoilers, yes! Yes he will! As long as you’ve kept yourself on your toes of course.
Boss fights were the reason that I absolutely loved No More Heroes 3. Over the top, the mechanics are blended between the normal combat routine and other completely different styles which is something that I have to applaud Grasshopper Manufacture on. They didn’t just make “one” gameplay system, they made many and some of these elements will show up over the course of the rest of the gameplay while others will remain unique making you wonder, did I really just sit through a game of musical chairs? That makes sense… doesn’t it? There are several others all the way up to the final credits but those, those will be yours to discover as that’s not something that I want to spoil.
What’s really cool, and made me happy, is that there are some of these once cutscene or boss grade gameplay elements that will bleed over into the normal gameplay. Travis has a powered “mech” suit reminding me more of Zone of the Enders or Daemon X Machina (Digitally Downloaded) than Armored Core. In these sequences, you’ll be flying around in space dodging enemy attacks and firing off your own in either guided lasers or a full-on beam attack if the gauge is completely filled. Interestingly enough, the gauge for the beam attack is also the gauge for your thrusters so be sure you’re ready to use it or you may take a hit.
Aside from flying around in space, you’ll also get your hands on a modified mech suit for ground combat. While at first in specific sequences, it can be unlocked through the slash reel rewards for use when you really need it, or really just want to go crazy and finish a fight in seconds! The mechanics are similar to that of Travis with just his beam katana however you’re tougher, faster, and have a few select special abilities to really stick it to the enemy.
If there’s maybe one element that doesn’t work as well as the rest, it’s the space of Santa Destroy that you can drive your motorcycle around. Too big to really move around on foot, this space often just feels empty. Sure, it contains all the locations for the side jobs that you’ll need to earn money, it contains the locations for the designated matches, but otherwise? Short of a few smaller side quests and sushi shops which sell, well sushi, that can be used to heal or buff yourself in battle, there isn’t much else that the space is used for. And when you consider that you can just order sushi from your motel’s underground lab. That’s about the only part that feels long to go through.
Finally, in order to help with all of the above, Travis has access to said underground lab where he can both level himself up and make new chips for his death glove. Leveling up costs a different currency but one that can still be earned by doing side jobs, designated matches and ranked matches. You can increase attack power, your beam katana’s energy reserve and learn new moves like a running slash or improve on some others. The death glove’s chips are interesting as they are often double edge swords. Granting you more of one thing but at the cost of something else, such as taking 5% more damage for dealing 10% more attack or taking 15% less damage while dealing 10% less damage, the give and take can take some work but the results, if done right, are worth it if you offset the negatives.
Grasshopper Manufacture, XSEED Games and Marvelous’s No More Heroes 3 was awesome. From the epic voice acting, the craziness of, well everything, into the gameplay and presentation, Travis’ adventure was solid all around. Lasting anywhere between a dozen or so hours depending on how invested you are in the side content, there’s a NG+ just ready and waiting for you to go back for more!Score: 8.5 / 10