No More Heroes III – There Goes My Hero
Well, you’ve all waited patiently for eleven years, but everyone’s favourite number 1 Assassin of the UAA, Travis Touchdown, is back! Ready to lay down the insults and beat downs once again in the third installment of the No More Heroes (NMH) saga. The story kicks off with the tale of a young boy named Damon, who befriends a cute little alien (FU), who has crashed landed on Earth. The two become friends form a bond and Damon eventually helps FU escape Earth and head back to his home planet, before doing so FU lets Damon know that he’ll return in exactly 20 years’ time. All is well until FU comes back, all grown up, and proceeds to blow up half a city and declare he’s there to take over Earth through the rules of conquest. For those familiar with the series and its formula, the conquest involves fighting against the 10 highest-rank fighters in the galaxy. Enter our protagonist who’s exactly where we left him at the end of NMH 2, the Motel. You quickly dispatch the ranked 10 bad guys and from here the story plays out as you’d expect, battling through the remaining 9 bad guys to save Earth and become the #1 ranked badass of the galaxy!
OK, we’ve been here before, the concept isn’t exactly new when it comes to any game in the series, but the story is self-aware enough that it’s tongue in cheek in all the right places. Anyone not familiar with these games, the design can only be described as ‘extra’. The games’ story plays out like a television TV show, it’s wild, zany, random, and incredibly violent at times. For the most part, this is what works in NMH 3, you’ve never sure what to expect and what’s coming next. Enemies, protagonists and the world are portrayed and shown in a manner that is always completely over the top, unbelievable, and incredibly entertaining. Laughs were had and even gasps at specific shocking moments. The designers clearly knew when to land each beat and even though this description makes it seem all over the shop, these beats always felt like they were well paced out.
This is all well and good but what do you do in the game? The main driver of this game is the combat and its systems in play. You’ll employ a combination of light and heavy attacks, dodges, jumps, and an array of special moves which are sometimes due to specific scenarios during a battle or abilities that work off a cooldown timer. Fighting is challenging and fun at the same time, it’s one of those games that the more you play the better you’ll get, although it remains challenging during the whole playthrough. You’ll come across the same enemies countless times and remembering their abilities, weaknesses, and fight patterns, greatly improves one’s chances at winning. Most of the game revolves around completing a bunch of designated battles to earn the chance (and money required) to battle against one of the ranked aliens. There are some mini side quests that involve unclogging toilets, joining the coast guard to stop alligators from attacking, and even picking up trash out of the ocean. All of which earns precious coin that you’ll need to buy your entry ticket for the boss battles.
As you’d expect, the boss battles are the big allure of this game. Each boss will have something unique about them and a few will even have encounters that you simply weren’t expecting. There’s no cookie-cutter approach here either. The bosses are challenging in their own special way, and you’ll be likely retrying a few times before overcoming them and gaining a higher rank. Although these parts of the game were fun and enjoyable, it really does highlight the parts in between where it can often feel like filler … boring filler. The circular formula tends to work like this, you’ll go to a designated area, find several designated battles to take on, all of which have similar low-level opponents. Once you’ve beaten enough, you’ll likely have to do a few side missions to earn enough money to take on the boss. Rinse and repeat. It does help that fighting is fun in this game but after a bunch of hours of doing this, you’ll start to feel like it’s like a guest that outstays their welcome. These parts start to feel a bit samey and boring.
Another issue we’ve found is that the combat can be a little annoying at times with enemies or walls getting stuck between you and where you want to be facing. This rarely resulted in death, and you will get better at controlling this in a better manner the more you play, but it will still rear its ugly head at times, and it can really take you out of the game a bit and feels like it could have been polished a little better. It would seem the game also takes pity on you when you lose a battle a few times in a row and suddenly you’ll start getting ‘really lucky’ slot results during your fights and all these amazing buffs and power-ups will be raining down like it’s the 100-year flood or something. We understand that games often do this to help the player get past certain tough spots but the RNG nature of this makes you feel less in control and merely having the game dictate the pace itself.
How does one rate this game though? On one hand, the style and design are quite fun and entertaining. The characters, voice acting, and general feel all feels perfectly placed and we ate it up hook line, and sinker. But under that veil, the gameplay seems like it’s lacking. The boss battles are great, unique, and enjoyable, but there’s the same template in between that stands out as a copy and paste job and it’s easy to see one growing tired of those parts the more they play. For fans of the series though, it’s a no-brainer, you know what to expect here and you’re going to love it, for everyone else it might be hit or miss.