Bottom line: This action title has great combat and humor, and will be a great both for fans of the series and, surprisingly, newcomers.
Fast-paced combat that's both easy to learn and stylish
A ridiculously off-the-wall story with great humor
Mini-games that aren't as dull as they could be
The loading screens are prohibitively long
Some of the story elements will only make sense to series fans
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No More Heroes is a game series that's hard to recommend. It's a fantastic action series, but the main character is kind of a scumbag. The gameplay is solid, but the off-the-wall humor and aesthetics can be a bit of an acquired taste. But the latest game in the series, No More Heroes 3, feels like it's designed specifically to be accessible by newcomers.
The plot this time around revolves around a world-saving endeavor in which hero Travis Touchdown is unequivocally on the side of the angels, albeit probably not for altruistic reasons. The gameplay is fast and fun, and even the minigames aren't so tedious that they weigh the player down too much (though they do get a little closer than I'd like). Now, if only the game wasn't such a drag with the loading, it'd be a real winner.
No More Heroes 3: What you'll enjoy
No More Heroes 3 returns players to the streets of Santa Destroy and the grungy hotel room of Travis Touchdown, the passing assassin and wielder of the beam katana. An alien prince called FU lands on Earth and, in lieu of conquering it outright, decides to leave his fellow alien friends, all of which are hardened galactic killers, on a massive leaderboard to give Earthlings a chance to climb the rankings and challenge him. And, as Travis himself points out, he's got more experience than most with slicing his way through a ranked list of killers, so if anyone's going to defeat FU, it might as well be him.
|Title||No More Heroes 3|
|Play Time||10-30 hours|
It very quickly goes from "Oh cool, Travis is here to save the world" to "Oh no, the safety of the world is in the hands of Travis Touchdown." The rest of the game is the journey of Travis and his supporting cast, including Bad Girl, Sylvia, Shinobu, and a few new characters whose existence I won't spoil. Through a series of bizarre and enjoyable boss battles, Travis must climb the rankings and stick it to Prince FU.
The game is delightfully weird, funny, and irreverent in a way that Suda51 games usually are. The character designs on the bosses prove minimalism is severely overrated, and the dialogue is hilarious. Travis is, as always, a character that is both fun to play and also someone you'd never want to be downwind of. FU is probably the standout in terms of character design, looking like someone threw every possible concept design for a weird, imposing alien overlord at the wall and built him out of everything that stuck.
If you have any liking for action games, even if you've never played a No More Heroes game before, then you'll like the gameplay. Travis's beam katana and his Death Glove (the colors of which are identical to the Joy-Con on my Switch, which, intentional or not, is pretty cool) offer a variety of attacks and skills to string together in an unbroken flow of combat. The basic hack-and-slash gameplay is good on its own, but then when you mix in Travis's special skills, the finishing attacks, and the ability to every so often jump into a super mech suit, the combat becomes a party.
It's worth mentioning that, while this game will definitely reward series fans, it's also accessible for beginners. The combat is easy enough to pick up and the story is relatively simplistic, at least to start. There are some places where I think new fans will be left scratching their heads, but they'll still be able to get the gist of the story.
The game's open world has side activities that Travis can partake in to gain money, which he needs in order to participate in the battles. There are a variety of minigames, ranging from lawn mowing to unclogging toilets (which also unlock save points). My favorite is one in which Travis must descend into a mine to get resources while avoiding lava — Travis is immune to the heat unless the lava actually touches him, naturally — and fighting off enemies that inexplicably appear.
The music is also great, with the stand-out track being the one that plays while Travis is eating at a sushi shop. Seriously, listen to this banger:
No More Heroes 3: What's not as great
Some of the early footage seemed to show that No More Heroes 3 was not properly optimized for Switch, experiencing several framerate drops in combat. I'm happy to report that these did not appear in my game on a regular Switch, or at least not enough to cause any problems (I played most of it in handheld). Combat was smooth, and even the exploration of the overworld didn't cause more than one or two blips.
But that does bring me to the game's biggest drawback: the loading screens. It's almost as if the game developers managed to pack all the game's problems with framerate drops into the loading screen somehow. Several times while I was playing, loading screens would freeze for up to 15-20 seconds, often to the point where I thought my Switch was broken.
There are loading screens between every fight, every activity, after every death. Having them stall is way more of a speedbump than it should be. The loading screens by themselves are bad enough, but the fact that they appear to need loading screens themselves is a huge drag.
While most of the extras and the side activities are beneficial and/or fun, one that I didn't really understand or care to use was the Death Chips, mods that Travis can build in his underground lab that buff or nerf certain stats. You need resources to craft them, and then you have to equip them. I made sure to try out several chips, but I honestly didn't see a change in gameplay for better or for worse.
As previously stated, there are some places in the game, some of them major plot points, that are dependent on players being familiar with characters who have appeared in previous games. I don't consider that a flaw and series fans will no doubt enjoy these characters' spotlight moments, but it might be a bit of a barrier if you're a series newbie.
No More Heroes 3: Should you play it?
No More Heroes 3 is the first game in a long time I've played both because I had to and because I wanted to. Even if I wasn't reviewing it, its crunchy combat action, distinctive style, and humor would be enough to keep me interested. If you like action games, and especially if you're a No More Heroes fan already, you need to play this. I'd put it among some of the Switch's great games.
The loading screens do bring the game down somewhat, but not enough that I ever wanted to stop playing. If you're not into a game that doesn't always adhere to gaming conventions and has a sense of humor that dips into the lowbrow, then it probably won't be for you. But it's one of the best action games on Switch, especially among this year's releases.
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