Liam Ferguson reviews the long awaited return of Travis Touchdown.
It has been eleven years since the last mainline No More Heroes game was released. Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture’s quirky series is now back to wrap up the story of Travis Touchdown and his friends. However, a great story and stellar writing cannot save this game from its boring open-world and lackluster boss fights.
The story of No More Heroes 3 revolves, once again, around series protagonist Travis Touchdown, a lazy and snarky otaku who just also happens to be a world class assassin. As is typical of the franchise, the plot centers on Travis taking down a list of ten assassins above him in the United Assassin's Association ranking list, only this time around the stakes are increased as Travis must battle ten warring aliens who seek to destroy and rule Earth. In order to fight within each ranked battle, the player must partake in chores around the open world environment to gain the necessary funds for each battle. The chores within this title harken back to those seen within the original No More Heroes, ranging from picking up trash to mowing lawns. As someone who prefers these mundane style of tasks to the 8-bit minigames they replaced within No More Heroes 2, I felt they served as welcome detours from the main point of action throughout, but were not nearly as varied as their predecessor’s.
the boss battles are, for the most part, as over the top and hilarious as ever, ranging from standard fights against giant robots to forcing you into a deadly game of musical chairs and a genuinely terrifying horror-fueled level.
The combat within this title is the most varied and intriguing within the franchise thus far, yet simultaneously the most unfulfilling. The various combos and skills all work together in sync and the boss battles are, for the most part, as over the top and hilarious as ever, ranging from standard fights against giant robots to forcing you into a deadly game of musical chairs and a genuinely terrifying horror-fueled level. The main issue with combat is that it is spread extremely thin. In previous titles, after gaining the funds needed to challenge the next ranked assassin, the player would traverse their dungeon-like lair, defeating waves of enemies before getting to the boss at the end. No More Heroes 3 removes this lair aspect completely, having the player complete three ‘designated matches’ within the open world instead before they can challenge the boss. These designated matches mostly take place within one of three copy-pasted arenas and have little to no variety regarding the enemies one will encounter. As a result of this, the actual boss levels, while engaging from a story perspective, turn out to run painfully short and never quite manage to lean in to how great the combat system truly can feel.
Overall, No More Heroes 3 is a good game on the precipice of being a great one, if it weren’t for all the “but”s. The writing is all still top notch and meta enough to be funny, but the frame rate varies consistently. The cutscenes exude a unique sense of style but the game is graphically ugly a lot of the time and does not look that much better than the Wii originals. The combat is sleek and allows for many interesting combos but is marred by the structure surrounding the battle system. As a swan song to Travis and company, it misses the mark in many aspects that made the series so special to begin with and allows it to finish up without a touchdown.