By Jade Entien
Aren’t some of us, deep inside, suckers for “cute aliens who need to go home” stories? We find ourselves rooting for the human underdog and their extra-terrestrial ally as they outsmart the government and then eventually send the little guy home. The main character learns about themselves, sweet ending, credits roll, the end!
Okay. But what happens if E.T. comes back to enslave the world? SUDA51’s No More Heroes 3 deals with this possibility by introducing an alien takeover orchestrated by FU, a once cute little alien puffball turned buff blue prince. Long time fans of the No More Heroes series will be excited to return to Travis Touchdown’s motel life as he climbs to the top of the ranks once again to put an end to FU’s reign of terror. If you’re new to the No More Heroes series, don’t fret – although I would say you need to play the first two games to get a grasp on some of the characters’ motivations here.
So a once cute little alien comes back to Earth, with plans to destroy the world. Damn. Well leave it to Travis to save us all as he fights his way up the leaderboard. For those who don’t know, Travis is a long-time assassin and fan of anime. He’s also just very immature. The combination of childishness merged with an over the top, murderous nature makes him a fun character to play! He fights multiple types of aliens and other creatures, acquires rad tee shirts, and does quirky missions for the members of his community.
No More Heroes 3, aside from the hacking and slashing, has a real abstract feel to it with the retro and intentional glitchy effects during boss battles and regular fights. The splash of color and pixels felt so free and really caught my eye. I had some trouble focusing on any one thing during fight scenes I was too busy taking it all in. However, I wouldn’t recommend the game to anyone with photosensitivity or those who don’t like bright lights as these make up the majority of the game.
NMH3 also has a unique, continuing chapter feature similar to that of Netflix. Each chapter is fitted to look like a new episode with the lengthy intros, cast of characters, and episode title. At first I was in love but slowly became tired of witnessing it after every boss fight. Fans and newcomers to the NMH series will enjoy recurring characters like Shinbou (a gorgeous, blade wielding, scarf-wearing assassin) and of course Sylvia (our favorite fight planner and Travis’ wife), saving their games in the bathroom, and restoring their electric beam katanas by shaking them up in dangerous situations mid-battle.
Speaking of older features, there’s the infamous need to make cash to unlock the next battle. Various NPCs will ask Travis for help in their little cities as a way to earn some cash. Money, aside from being used to pay for battles, can also be used to purchase sushi to help boost your abilities or heal your character during fights.
Fighting in No More Heroes 3 is a lot of thoughtful fun since you have to memorize the patterns and abilities each attacker uses. During my first boss fight against Mr. Blackhole, a boss who (like the name states) makes holes on stage and disappears into space, it was a bit difficult at first for me to avoid his ground slam attack. Then it eventually became easier and more enjoyable. Plus, the soundtrack added thrills to the boss battles. From soothing R&B to techno, the NMH3 soundtrack was masterfully composed and directed by Nobuaki Kaneko. NMH does a spectacular job with music throughout the series, truly bringing out the best of the games and NMH3 didn’t fall short! Songs like “Awesome Holyday in the Sky” and “Dead Orca Force” can really give players a sense of danger and adrenaline. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the HOLD “Philistine” from No More Heroes 2 had on me.
However there were a few things that I didn’t really enjoy so much about NMH3. I did like the minigames in town and the idea of an open-world, but it felt so plain compared to the lavish, lurid stages we fought on. I rarely stopped to look around the world but instead pushed onward my next ranked match. The NPCs walking around the city didn’t really serve much purpose aside from being my unfortunate car crash victims. It would be nice to do tasks for them or at least fight them as if they were alien soldiers in disguise. But they were just similar looking and monotonous, minus the more well-rounded ones introducing the minigames and asking Travis for help.
Despite the gripes, this edition of No More Heroes has come a long way forward and the series’ 11-year hiatus has made me yearn for more. It’s the same old Travis but everything around him is going to hell. Wait, that’s not new!? Oh well, but it is the end of the world, a constant trope, for sure, but not often as well as within No More Heroes 3. I was excited to see the return of No More Heroes and although NMH2 holds a special place in my heart, I really appreciate how fresh a comeback to the series NMH3 proved to be. I can’t wait to see the next work of art Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture brings us. And I hope sushi is involved in some way as well.
Jade Entien is an intern for the NYVGCC, who also streams on our official Twitch account.