The first ten minutes of No More Heroes 3 are very bizarre. It starts with Travis Touchdown remembering a game called Deathman that he played as a kid. You will be treated to a cartoon that reminds me a lot of an 80s-style anime in which you see a little boy riding his bike to a crash site on an alien spaceship. The boy finds a cute little alien and stuffs him into his backpack to hide him from the government agents who are hunting him (sounds familiar). We learn that the little alien is called FU and the boy is Damon. The animated short ends and we are transported to the present, where Damon grew up and built a business empire based on the knowledge FU shared with him. FU returns as an adult, but he’s not the cute and cuddly alien we remember. In fact, he’s back and looking to take on the world. Welcome to a Suda51 game.
If you’ve never played a No More Heroes game before, you should be aware that this entry is pretty naughty. The game has a lot of swearing, suggestive themes, and a lot of blood. While it’s honestly very stylized violence, it doesn’t look realistic.
However, it should be noted that, despite a lot of rough humor, the protagonist has grown significantly since the first game. For this reason, the overall tone has also matured. Travis has retired from the assassination business, and you get a glimpse of him by questioning some of his decisions and thinking about who he is and how many murders have been committed. He meets Sylvia, a recurring character on the series, and his relationship with her has changed significantly since the first game. You get the feeling that he wants to connect with Sylvia on an emotional level, unlike when he first met, and he just wanted to sleep with her. But you still save the game by using the toilet.
As with the previous entries, you will have to work your way up the ranks of assassins before you can take on the top ranked FU yourself. The game does a good job with the tutorial mechanics. The first few missions will walk you through using your beam katana and death glove.
The combat system is one of the strongest aspects of the game. The main combat mode involves using your katana. Every attack that you land with your katana drains a little energy from the jet katana. If you run out of ends, your attacks will be useless so you will have to constantly recharge. Along with your sword, you also have your death gauntlet, which you can use to perform special attacks with cooldowns.
Another feature associated with the combat system is a slot machine mechanic. After the last shot, a “slot machine” will appear on the screen. If all three spinning items are the same, you will unlock a bonus. When three sevens appear, you can do your special move (summon your mech outfit) and do great damage to all enemies on the screen.
You also have the option of grasping motions as soon as your opponents are stunned or you get behind them. The grapple moves are classic wrestling moves that add some variety to the fighting system. Although I found the combat system to be fun, it tends to be a bit repetitive. Challenge yourself to try different moves and techniques not only will bring you higher ranks at the end of battles, but it will also keep the game from feeling boring.
In addition to using your jet katana, some battles will require you to put on your mech suit and fight larger opponents. And while that looks really cool, the combat system in the mech suit isn’t that good. You have two attacks (missile and laser cannon) that aim at different parts of the enemy’s body with the right analog stick. It was cool the first time you put the suit on, but it got boring quickly. Thank goodness there weren’t many ‘Mech battles.
In addition to the boss fights, there are two different types of fights: defense missions and specific games. In defense missions you fight against waves of enemies and at the end you get a rank, scrap and a currency. The games provided are missions that you must complete before you can take on the boss. Once you have reached the number of bosses selected to qualify for the boss fight, an ATM becomes available and you can pay the entry fee to compete against the next boss with the next rank.
The boss fights are by far the best part of the game. Most boss fights involve figuring out different patterns. A boss fight in particular was quite interesting as you had to play musical chairs through a rhythm game.
Outside of boss fights and other combat missions, there are many side missions. These can’t be beat, but they are useful for making money, for paying the high entry fees required to defeat any boss. These side quests range from collecting quests (finding kittens all over the city, rare trading cards or scorpions for the sushi chef) to public service quests (cleaning public toilets, picking up rubbish or mowing the lawn) to cycling races.
This brings me to my least favorite aspect of the game – riding my bike through different zones where you can see the performance hit and the game lose its luster. The cityscapes and zones you travel to look boring and empty. And to top it off, the game can’t render the landscapes fast enough when you’re riding your bike around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crashed into a wall or building because it came out of nowhere and I couldn’t react quickly enough. Granted, it caused some hilarious scenes; When Travis is thrown off his bike, there are lots of swear words as he gets up and brushes himself off.