No More Heroes 3 from Grasshopper Manufacture, the newest numbered entry in the long-running series, is finally here. Having only recently played No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2 for the first time through the Nintendo Switch version and having replayed Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, I can safely say that No More Heroes 3 has delivered in just about every way and exceeded my expectations in some ways. It is the best No More Heroes game and likely my favourite game involving Suda51 for many reasons. I enjoyed it enough to play through twice and still keep coming back to for the combat, music, and boss battles. While the game has some flaws which I will get to, No More Heroes 3 is a gem of an experience that both fans and newcomers will enjoy.
If you’ve never played a No More Heroes game before, No More Heroes 3 has you playing as Travis Touchdown who is an assassin. Your aim is to climb the rankings to defeat Jess Baptiste VI (known as FU) who aims to take over earth with the help of various other colorful and powerful characters from across the galaxy. Character introductions and story beats are well-explained even for complete newcomers which is great to see for accessibility. There will be a few confusing moments for absolute newcomers, but you are in for an absolutely great time with the story in No More Heroes 3. Those who have played earlier games and even other games from Suda51’s “Kill the Past” series will have an even better time though. This really feels like the perfect introduction to get people into the series, but also well worth the effort and wait for those who experienced everything available before playing No More Heroes.
Unlike Travis Strikes Again, No More Heroes 3 goes back to the gameplay structure from the numbered entries (especially the first one) while building upon important areas to feel better. With these improvements in important areas, No More Heroes 3 has the best gameplay in the series and it is a damn fine action game in its own right even if you’ve never played a No More Heroes game before. You still have to earn money, complete specific battles, and then take on ranking battles to progress ranks as you aim for the top, but going off the beaten path will reward you in some form. What makes No More Heroes 3 even more special, is in how every little side activity and encounter never felt like a waste of time. In fact, I ended up just taking breaks from story battles to relax and mow the lawn or drive around looking for scorpions and cards to soak up as much of No More Heroes 3 I could.
The gameplay feels sublime compared to both No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2 especially when it comes to combat. The addition of the Death Glove from Travis Strikes Again adds another layer of strategy to the already meticulously designed combat. As Travis, you have your Beam Katana with two attack types, wrestling moves to perform, Death Glove abilities, new skills to unlock, and the ability to dodge and deal serious damage on the various colorful enemies in No More Heroes 3. Each encounter, be it designed matches required to progress to a ranked battle, or random side battles, feels great with the way things are setup and with how much you keep improving and growing as Travis with story progression.
The Slash Reel makes a return as expected with various boosts depending on your luck as you take down foes here. The combination of the particle effects, interface, and fast combat, makes every battle quite a visual feast. All of this is expanded upon in the unique boss battles No More Heroes 3 includes. While the trailers have shown a few of these, the full game kept surprising me with how varied each battle was not just in mechanics, but also in music and theme. Two specific boss battles were good enough to be their own game for me where I’d have been ok if No More Heroes 3 just had those two fights over and over again. Grasshopper Manufacture definitely went above and beyond with making sure not just veteran fans, but even newcomers have an absolute blast here with how over the top things get. I only didn’t enjoy one specific lead up to a certain boss because the gameplay portion before the fight was a bit too clunky for my liking.
In between designated battles and the Ranked Matches, No More Heroes 3 has a ton of things to do spread across its open world. The open world has its own technical issues, but thankfully these don’t really affect the mini-games, side activities, and battles. As you drive across the big islands and fast travel, there are cards to find, scorpions to carefully catch, new NPCs to discover, toilets to clean to unlock save points, trash to collect, side battles to take on, and a lot more. The different locations are unique and moving in between them is relatively quick thanks to fast travel. I did enjoy driving the bike around more though because it was fun finding a scorpion in a random location near the edge of an area.
The Ranked Matches are easily the highlight of No More Heroes 3. Every one of them continued to impress me as I inched towards the finale and two specific boss fights in No More Heroes 3 feel like Suda51 wanted to raise the bar so high, I don’t really know how these will be topped in potential future releases. I won’t get into spoilers but the finale had me constantly grinning with how well-paced it was. The boss fights aren’t just aliens with health sponges, but an audiovisual extravaganza. I’m glad there’s an option to redo prior boss battles whenever you want in the lab. You can even up the difficulty for better rewards here. I’ve replayed the last few boss battles multiple times now thanks to this in-game Time Machine feature.
No More Heroes 3 also has some great references to different media throughout. While I expected this in some form, I didn’t think I’d see some specific things referenced so heavily or be so important in the gameplay here. Safe to say that I’m glad Suda51 could do what he and Grasshopper Manufacture did in No More Heroes 3 with these references and tributes.
As you progress through the story and side activities, you unlock different in-game currency. One is required to buy items and to pay for Ranked Matches while the other is used to upgrade and unlock skills. No More Heroes 3 gives you the freedom to upgrade your health, attack, power, and unlock new skills through spending WESN while you can also equip up to three Death Chips to give yourself even more benefits. You can create and equip these in the lab and they have their own pros and cons. I’d recommend checking back in the lab after you finish some battles if you can craft new chips to equip. Some of them help a lot even with side activities.
Travis unlocks new t-shirts after boss battles but there are also many specific alien NPCs across the map that will let you buy or unlock new ones by fulfilling certain conditions. By the end of the game, you will have a big collection with up to 100 to collect overall. You also unlock three t-shirts if you have save data from No More Heroes, No More Heroes 2, and Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. These are cosmetic just like the ones you unlock during gameplay with no change to your stats, but some of the unlockable ones look excellent and worth putting in the effort to obtain.
Visually, No More Heroes 3 is a lot better than I expected. The actual arenas for battles, boss fights, and indoor locations all look good. The open world is the only area where I thought the game fell short and this speaks for how good No More Heroes 3 is in general if my only real complaint with it is the open world feeling unpolished. There’s a lack of good anti-aliasing as well throughout. Given the scope of the game and how great it looks in many instances, I came away impressed with the results overall despite the technical issues.
Going to handheld mode sees an even bigger drop in image quality in the open world and in other areas. Going for a 60fps target during battles and in many situations (not including the open world) is definitely appreciated in making the game feel more responsive to play though. Load times are mostly good throughout barring fast travel which feels like it takes too long sometimes.
Performance in the open world in both docked and handheld modes doesn’t feel as smooth as it should and visually there is some bad visual pop-in and lower resolution than you’d expect in some areas. Thankfully, the bike still controls well and getting to different parts to progress the story or do side activities is quick and painless. The one area where the open world’s technical issues affect things, is in draw distance and finding collectibles on the map.
When it comes to controls, No More Heroes 3 supports both motion controls and traditional button controls. I played about half the game on Nintendo Switch Lite and the rest docked on Nintendo Switch. With button controls, it plays great. I never felt like I had to press too many buttons or hold something to accomplish a basic task like camera movement. The team clearly designed this well since it plays great both with motion controls and with traditional button controls and controllers.
On the audio side of things, No More Heroes 3’s voice cast did a superb job with bringing these characters to life. Every single spoken dialogue is great and I ended up taking too many short clips of scenes during my playthrough alongside more than 1600 screenshots in my 45+ hours of playtime across different saves. One of the most important parts of No More Heroes 3 is the music. It is brilliant. Every single song, including softer side songs you hear only in some parts, are all excellent. I can’t wait for the full soundtrack to be released hopefully with a nice vinyl release. The music highlights barring some boss fights I will not mention for spoiler reasons, include the sushi shop song, transition music in between chapters, and the regular battle theme that never got old across my playthroughs so far.
One aspect of No More Heroes 3 that deserves a special mention is how Grasshopper Manufacture made it welcoming to newcomers. Despite some specific characters returning and some story moments hitting harder if you’ve played prior games (especially Travis Strikes Again), No More Heroes 3 will be the perfect game to get more players into not just No More Heroes, but also the “Kill the Past” series. It probably was quite the task to make these moments work for new players, but have enough there to reward those who have experienced Suda51’s other titles. No More Heroes 3 is not just the best Suda51 game I have played overall so far, but easily the most accessible one of the lot. Anyone who plays this will want to experience the other games and it is great that even The Silver Case 2425 is now on Nintendo Switch alongside all the No More Heroes games.
If you did play No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2, No More Heroes 3 is something you’re definitely going to want to play as soon as possible. You will adore the quality of life improvements to gameplay and the additions and enhancements to combat. This feels like a big step up from prior games and the narrative completes the experience with its great pacing and brilliant writing. In potential future updates, barring any performance and visual improvements for the open world, I’d love an option to listen to any music (including prior games) on the bike while driving.
To say No More Heroes 3 delivered would be an understatement. It feels like the culmination and conclusion to what Suda has been going for and a magnificent game in its own right that manages to be great for newcomers, and even better for those who have experienced other games. This will definitely make everyone who plays it as their first Suda51 game, want to experience the others. It is easily one of the best and most fun games I’ve played on Nintendo Switch in years despite the issues.