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No More Heroes 3 Review

Fans have been waiting for another mainline entry in the No More Heroes series for over 10 years. Some Travis Touchdown fans were satisfied with the release of Travis Strikes Again back in 2019, but that spin-off title left people wanting more, and now, with the long-awaited launch of No More Heroes 3 on Switch, the series is back, and it's better than it's ever been.

For the uninitiated, No More Heroes is a third-person, action hack and slash series created by Goichi Suda, who goes as Suda51 in the gaming world. The series of games lean heavily on its M-rating, filled to the brim with swear words, gore, and other adult themes. Like a typical action movie, the main character Travis Touchdown makes his way into a contest to see if he can become the number one assassin. He has to come to blows with each boss that stands before him and compete in blood-soaked fights with his trusty laser katana that's basically a lightsaber.

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No More Heroes 3 kicks off in the present-day, and Travis Touchdown has to once again make his way to the top of the assassination charts; however, this time, he has to face off against a squad of aliens. While some fans of the series might think that the gameplay formula sounds similar to past games, that's not entirely true.

Typically, players will start in Travis' motel apartment in the city of Santa Destroy, which is essentially a town inspired by the west coast of the US. In the previous games, players would have to partake in mini-games and short combat challenges to earn money to fight the next boss. In No More Heroes 3, it's changed quite a bit.

It feels like there's a bit more variety in what players can do when they're not fighting bosses. Instead of making a certain amount of money by completing combat challenges and doing annoying mini-games, players have to explore the various areas and complete three combat challenges. Of course, there are other mini-games to mess around with, such as a lawn-mowing game and toilet-plunging activity, but none are required.

It's great that there are lots of fighting activities to partake in, as the combat in No More Heroes 3 is such a blast and feels satisfying. Travis has his katana back, and veterans should be immediately familiar with how he controls. Still, there are some new abilities that Travis can pull of that add some more depth to the somewhat basic combat.

Travis can use the X and Y buttons to pull off heavy and light attacks, and when they connect with the alien enemies that Travis encounters, the visual effects are spectacular. Being on the Nintendo Switch, there are times when the game looks a little rough around the edges, but the combat scenarios always look visually appealing.

The particle effects each slice of the katana are always gratifying. And thanks to the game going into slow-mo for every single enemy death, players will no doubt enjoy fighting opponents, whether they are just basic enemies or a boss.

All of the mesmerizing and frantic on-screen action that occurs in battles certainly adds a spicy flair to the game, but some players might be disappointed with how the game runs outside of battle. When Travis is exploring Santa Destroy and the surrounding towns, the Switch's frame rate drops pretty low, especially when using Travis' turbo boost on his motorcycle. The draw distance is limited, and the texture pop-in can be quite jarring. Thankfully, none of these issues happen in battles, but it's still a problem that players might find themselves frustrated with.

As for the new abilities that Travis Touchdown can perform, there are four of them, and each one has a cooldown of its own. The first one players will get allows Travis to perform a powerful kick move that hits a targeted enemy. Another one creates a small field that causes damage to enemies that are inside of it. Another one lets Travis pick an enemy up off the ground and then fling them with a telekinesis-like move. And lastly, there's one that can slow down enemies near Travis, allowing players to get in some quick hits.

Using these new moves provides a change of pace for No More Heroes' hack and slash combat, but acquiring these techniques doesn't make much sense when it comes to pacing. Players will get the first of the four abilities early on, but then the other ones aren't naturally acquired throughout the course of the game. Instead, the last three moves are given to Travis simultaneously during an early boss fight.

At first, players may feel like an overpowered superhero, but that can get old quickly, as Travis doesn't learn any more of those moves as the game goes on. The combat in No More Heroes 3 is still so engaging, energetic, and satisfying, but it's quite a shame that, by the end of it all, players will be pulling off the same moves over and over again.

And that would not be too much of a problem if the bosses were as memorable as those in previous NMH games. While each boss fight is still fun on its own in No More Heroes 3, the cast of aliens doesn't stand out compared to other fights. This doesn't mean that players won't have fun, though. Travis and company are constantly making jokes and No More Heroes 3 is irrationally ridiculous at times.

One minute, players will be listening to some of the best Japanese hip hop music in a video game while buying ramen, and then the next, they'll be unclogging a toilet by waggling their Switch Joy-Con. There's a boss fight that's essentially a turn-based Final Fantasy battle; there are scorpions to find all over the map; aliens gift Travis t-shirts for clearing certain gameplay goals; and there's even a boss battle where players have to win a game of musical chairs.

This won't be a surprise to fans of No More Heroes or Suda51 games, but the ridiculous nature of the series shines brighter than ever in this latest entry. Even if the gameplay was repetitive at times or the cutscenes would go on for too long, the game was pretty much always enjoyable and will put a smile on player's faces often.

Now is the time to play No More Heroes for anyone who has always been interested in the series but was always timid about jumping in. The game takes player's expectations and tosses them out of the window, and manages to continuously throw players for a loop during the 10-15 hour story. No More Heroes 3 offers payoffs for veterans, but it's still fine for newbies to play, even if just to enjoy the wacky and downright absurd boss fights.

No More Heroes 3 may be repetitive at times and doesn't have quite the best bosses in the series history, but players new and old will have an enjoyable time with the game. It's a wonderfully vivid and colorful game that only shows how wild Suda51 really is.

No More Heroes 3 launches exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on August 27, 2021. Game Rant was provided a code for review.

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