Before this week, I’d never played a No More Heroes game. After playing No More Heroes 3, I have some serious regrets.
It’s not because NMH3 is bad — it’s not — but because I had literally no idea what’s going on. People who already play and love the franchise will have an absolute blast, but if you’ve never played No More Heroes the third entry is not the game for you.
This makes sense on multiple levels — the third entry in a franchise will build on what’s come before — but typically, games are much better at easing players into the action and giving them a rundown of what’s going on.
In No More Heroes 3, you immediately start the story via multiple, seemingly-disconnected cutscenes. In the first, you play an arcade game-in-a-game where you kill an evil alien. Then, an anime-style cutscene reveals the secret origin of villain emperor FU — and that’s it.
Travis gets assaulted by aliens, a tall woman with a sword rushes onto the scene, and she’s joined by a man in a Mankind-style headmask and another woman in a Lolita dress. There’s no character backstories, no slow easing in.
This is No More Heroes 3. Go forth and conquer.
If you’re in the same boat as me and you think No More Heroes 3 looks pretty nifty and you might like to try it — stop. Go back and play the other games first and you’ll be way, way less confused by all the alien-slashing, interstellar action.
After the initial shock of the cold open wore off, I did find a pretty smashing game, at least. It’s weird. Very weird. But there’s a colourful neon insanity here that lends itself very well to the stylish, over-the-top combat and action sequences of the game.
Around every corner, No More Heroes 3 is hiding surprises.
At first, it seems like a Devil May Cry-style adventure. Then it shunts you into a wide open world where fights take place in a friendly neighbourhood filled with lawns to mow and toilets to plunge.
Yes: toilets and lawn mowing are important parts of the game. The game where you fight an evil alien emperor and his troops. The game where you play as ‘bad-arse’ killer/assassin Travis Touchdown.
To earn money to advance to each round of the game’s global alien fighting tournament, Travis needs to complete various menial tasks around the neighbourhood. That means between frantic, bloody, hack ‘n’ slash combat, you need to drive around cleaning toilets and mowing lawns for your fellow citizens.
And you know what? Somehow, these were my favourite parts of the game. Why? Well, mowing lawns is great fun, and far more relaxing than trying to save the world from bloodthirsty aliens. It actually reminds me a bit of Putt-Putt Joins the Parade, which is possibly the strangest comparison I’ve ever made — but also the one that feels most right.
It’s very humbling to do housework before you’re forced into life-or-death battles. Nothing says ‘bad-arse’ like rolling up your sleeves and sticking your hand in the loo.
There’s many things I wish I’d known before I started No More Heroes 3. I wish I hadn’t selected easy mode, which gives you an ‘auto-block’ that practically renders you invincible in battle.
I wish I knew who these characters were, and what motivates them. And I wish I’d taken the hint and played the other games first.
No More Heroes 3 is weird. You save the game by sitting on a toilet seat. You mow grass to save the world from aliens. But it’s good! Combat is meaty and hard-hitting, every enemy is different enough to make fights fun and challenging, and there’s plenty to explore in the game’s main hub world.
While it is light on story, No More Heroes 3 is a great, weird game where you can sit back and hack’n’slash your way to victory. If you’re somebody who likes action-adventures with personality and flair, this is the game for you. Just make sure you play the originals before even thinking about touching this one.
No More Heroes 3 is out now, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.