No More Heroes 3 Review

I picked up the original No More Heroes on Wii on a whim, enticed as I was by some funky looking characters on the box. Ten assassinations later – and a whole lot of Otaku-culture references and potty humour – I was won over completely. It sequel was just as great, but then, we were forced into a No More Heroes-less world for a decade. Following its original release on Switch last year (and interim title Travis Strikes Again) we Xbox players finally get our first taste of this irreverent series – and it’s been worth the wait.

Kill an enemy and we get a chance to gain extra money/WESN/ temporary buffs via this slot reel. Some of the powers granted can be truly overpowered – and a lot of fun

A little backstory to fill in those who’ve missed the series until now: we follow the adventures of Travis Touchdown, an assassin for hire who also has a penchant for Japanese manga, anime, cinema and games. In between hanging with friends and chasing girls, he competes in Assassin Ranking battles in order to become the No.1 Assassin. Each game frames this tournament slightly differently, but the gist is the same.

For NMH3, Travis is defending Earth itself from an intergalactic threat known as Fu and his top ten ranking assassin buddies. A new tournament is set up, and Travis must work his way through all ten before the final showdown with Fu. As with previous entries, the tale is pretty simple to follow, but full of lewd or violent content all shown with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s enjoyably cheesy, and kept brief enough to not get tiresome throughout.

Gameplay is familiar territory for anyone used to the series; using his beam katana, Travis slashes, stabs and slices enemies until their life bar is zero, at which point a prompt appears on screen letting us deliver the violent death blow with a flick of the right stick. Said beam katana is his only weapon of choice, and is upgradable by collecting WESN from defeated foes, or one of the plentiful side activities throughout the game. WESN also lets us upgrade his health, attack power, gain a few extra moves, and power up his extra abilities.

Execute a perfect dodge and time slows to a crawl for a few moments, letting us deliver extra blows or get to safety to heal. Expect to see a lot of these sparks at all times though – that beam katana is a beast of a weapon

These come in the form of Death Blow attacks; four super powerful moves on a cooldown timer. Whether it’s drop-kicking an enemy in the face, conjuring up an area of effect attack, slowing down time, or simply telekinetically throwing them into walls, each proves to be very useful at all times, often coming in to save us in a pinch.

We’re not done yet though with his arsenal. Death Glove chips can be found or created, and these grant buffs and debuffs when equipped. I found this aspect to be one I didn’t really use much other than testing it out, as I made some useful ones early on that did me through the game’s entire span just fine. I preferred to save my UtopiCoin (the games currency) for things like the various sushi on offer that healed, or buffed us for the next fight only.

Finally, we have the wrestling moves. Get behind an enemy, or hit them enough to stun them, and we can perform one of several wrestling moves that inflict substantial damage. A quick flick of the sticks sees Travis hoist them up for a suplex or back breaker, or german suplex them from behind. Not only are they effective, they are really fun to pull off and I found myself often forgoing all out attack at times just to get behind enemies to throw them.

Fu is the main antagonist, coming back to Earth to conquer it after leaving as a little alien. While cheesy, all performances are entertaining througout

Put all of this together and we have a combat system that is just a frantically fun as previous entries. Travis is able to dance around arenas at speed and with grace (until he gets a smack in the face) but the challenge is always pitched just right even when there are several tough enemies at once.

Which is good, as we’ll be doing a lot of fighting across the dozen or so hours NMH3 lasts. Each ranking battle requires us to first beat several Designated Battles in one of the city’s various areas, as well as a hefty amount of UtopiCoin to pay for our entry. These take the form of three or more on one, often with a big bad guy surrounded by several smaller – but no less mean – foes. Shout out must go to the insane creativity on show with the designs – each new one come packed with crazy descriptions and looks, and yet nothing feels out of place in this mad universe.

Wrestling moves are tricky to pull off, but are worth the effort thanks to huge damage being inflicted

Beat the three Designated Matches, and we’re free to either head straight for the fight if we have the cash, or we can explore the several sub areas of the city to earn some more cash or WESN. There are plentiful odd-jobs around as is series’ tradition, from clearing up garbage, to mowing lawns, chasing down biker gangs, or simply planting trees and more besides. Also following series’ tradition, these tend to be a mixed bag of jokes that wear thin, or gameplay that is too repetitive to be worth the extra money. Collecting garbage, for example, is too drawn out with not enough in the way of engaging gameplay to make the minutes long attempts feel fun. Even the threat of alligator attack isn’t enough to keep things interesting, though it somehow never gets old seeing Travis suplex a 20-foot gator as it tries to bite his face off.

Boss fights are the real meat of NMH3, and are some of the series’ best to date. What starts out as a simple climbing of the rankings soon turns into much more, as – without spoiling too much – we might not necessarily fight every single one of them. There’s still plenty of fighting to be done, but expect a few curve balls to be thrown in.

Which is true of NHM3 as a whole really. It’s incredibly loose with keeping the plot on track, much less with how we progress, but somehow the chaos on screen never feels anything less than great fun (those few side jobs notwithstanding).

Conclusion

No More Heroes 3 is a solid return of the cult classic series, and one that fans will not want to miss out on. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but give this geeky assassin a chance and you might just be won over.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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Good
  • Fast, fun combat
  • Crazy designs that impress constantly
  • Plot that isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself
Bad
  • Side jobs are still a mixed bag
9
Excellent
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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