No More Heroes 3 review | Scrappy, excessive, inspired

It’s been a long time since the last No More Heroes game, at least if you don’t count the 2019 spin-off – and most disappointed fans probably wouldn’t – which should make foul-mouthed anti-hero Travis Touchdown something of a relic in modern games that demand more depth from their protagonists.

But with beam katana in hands, leaving enemies in his bloody wake, you have to admit that on a primal level, Travis still has it.

The stakes have risen greatly since the last ranked assassin battle, as this time Travis is pitted against a group of elite alien ‘superheroes’ who seemingly have the power to decimate all human life as fast as Thanos’ snap. But to give Earth a fighting chance, their bloodthirsty and hot-headed leader FU goes along with the United Assassins Association’s structure of fights, which means Travis is back to coughing up exponentially higher entry fees before he’s able to take on each intergalactic competitor.

Traditionally, this used to mean grinding through a lot of menial jobs to raise funds, and some of these are certainly in the sequel – mowing grass, unblocking a toilet (which once again act as save points) – but the good news is that you’re never forced to repeat these. More likely, you’ll earn the necessary fee just by partaking in designated fights (a few of which are mandatory).

These are self-contained arena battles where you take on alien enemies, and these have more variety and challenge than the human meat puppets of previous entries. Meanwhile, a new Death Glove also adds cooldown-based skills to your repertoire, from drop-kicking enemies to blasting them backwards with Jedi force powers. Making use of these skills, upgrading your stats, and even getting buffs by eating sushi are key as early battles can wipe the floor with you more quickly than you might expect (although after dying, you can retry and spin a wheel for the chance of a helpful boon).

Subtly edited for delicate sensibilities out there.

But whereas the previous game, Desperate Struggle, went for a leaner structure, NMH3 brings back the original game’s bland and rough-looking open worlds, expanding beyond Santa Destroy to a few other underwhelming locations. The frame rate isn’t, thankfully, the choppy mess that early footage indicated, but the activities here remain forgettable, with minigames that are initially amusing but whose appeal soon palls. More annoyingly, designated battles are marked by a wilfully vague radius, meaning you’ll have to wander around aimlessly trying to find them.

Nonetheless, when distilled to its riotous combat – and a pulpy story that takes boss encounters down some unexpected paths – this is a return to form for Suda51. Or at least a return to form for fans who appreciate that Suda51 form has always been scrappy and indulgent. Then again, this is a game where recharging your weapon still requires a bout of simulated onanism… so no, there hasn’t been much growing up done in the past decade.


No More Heroes 3 is a masterclass in style over substance – but what style! Suda51 is clearly having a blast doing a Tarantinoesque magpieing of game references (which shouldn’t be spoiled) while also riffing other media, from the way chapters begin and end with credit sequences that look like they’re from a 1980s anime to parodying Netflix, not to mention random chats about prolific Japanese director, Takashi Miike.

Verdict: 70%

Scrappy, excessive, indulgent, maddening, inspired; No More Heroes 3 is a Suda51 joint, for sure.

Genre: Hack-and-slash action
Format: Switch
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Grasshopper Manufacture
Price: £49.99
Release: Out now
Social: @Grasshopper_EN

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