Title: No More Heroes
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Release Date: October 28, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: XSEED Games
Seeing the stylish trailers for No More Heroes 3 may leave some gamers eager to experience Travis Touchdown’s earlier adventure, which before now, has been subjected to old hardware. Thankfully, XSEED is here to get you up-to-date by porting the adventure to the Nintendo Switch. Now, were my expectations of the game going to impact my enjoyment? Was I misreading a cult classic? No. No, I was not.
No More Heroes stars the incredible loser himself, Travis Touchdown, who took up an assassination gig to make some cash and got himself roped into a tournament to the death, a contest between assassins to discover the top dog. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. The association behind the fights requests an entry fee before each fight. So if Travis wants to prove himself as the very best like no one ever was, he’ll have to make himself a lot of cash, and what better way to obtain a stable income than odd jobs. Disclaimer: Noisy Pixel does not recommend that anyone obtain a stable income with odd jobs.
Armed with his trusty beam katana, Travis can slice foes with high and low strikes. High strikes make for quick rapid combos, while low strike combos take a bit longer to perform and have more range at the cost of leaving you open. If you want to immerse yourself in the stabbing more, you can use the motion controls with the Joycons for the authentic Nintendo Wii slashing experience. The performance on the switch is a smooth and consistent framerate for all of your slicing needs. While you can slice through groups of average enemies with ease, the major boss fights, ranked matches require a bit more skill. Wildly slashing at them will deal next to no damage, if at all, and you’ll need to use your dodge to work out exploitable openings carefully. Either finding points where they’re left open or parrying their attacks to cause satisfying clashes. These boss fights are incredible amounts of fun and the best part of the game by far. They’ll push your action genre skills to the limit in an over-the-top manner that this series masters.
As mentioned earlier, there is an entry fee for participation, which means you’ll need to make some cash. There are three ways to go about this. The first being to get on your bike and ride over to the job center where Travis can take on odd jobs from an overenthusiastic manager. These take the form of goofy mini-games, which will have you collecting coconuts, mowing the lawn, picking up trash, washing off graffiti, and more. They’re a surprising amount of fun but will not make you much cash. However, when you complete them, the manager will talk to an “associate” of his, allowing you to unlock a new method of raking in cash, the K-Entertainment.
Here, you’ll get assassination missions that have you going on killing sprees against all sorts of mobsters. These are your real moneymakers. However, there’s also a third method at your disposal in the form of free battles. These will set you against a collection of enemies, but you’ll be given an instant loss upon taking any damage. They’re not a shabby way of raking up cash and can be even a faster way of making it, provided you develop the skills to pull them off repeatedly. This essentially teaches you how to analyze enemies and beat them damage-free, which are exactly the skills you need for those tricky boss fights.
Money making isn’t the only thing the open-world is there for because there are also ways to spend it. You can spend time at the gym mashing buttons to boost your health and strength, buy new clothes to switch up your attire, watch movies to learn new moves from, and pick up new beam katanas for cooler combos. Additionally, you can also hunt down basketballs to exchange for new passive skills. This isn’t that much, though. The open-world itself is pretty sparse, and you need to drive to every single location. It doesn’t sound entertaining on a base level, but there’s something incredibly charming and goofy about it all. The jobs, having a fancy bike that makes Akira slides on every brake, slashing up mobsters, and earning your way into the ranked fights creating a unique gameloop that makes it easy to invest your time into this adventure.
Still, the bosses have little in the way of character depth with nothing more than a pre-fight and post-fight cutscene that ends in their obligatory death, and even Travis isn’t much more than an oddball loser. However, there’s little tidbits and quirks you work out about Travis and his opponents, helped even further by each fight having a unique setup and boss theme with each confrontation. These are then emphasized by how they all get spaced out. Each one is made to feel important, like a milestone victory, as you climb your way up the ranks. This seems to be what No More Heroes excels at. Making things feel important, even if they don’t seem like they are. The art style may not be the cleanest, but every little action, down to pressing the ‘A’ button to turn on the beam katana before each mission you use it, is incredibly satisfying.
No More Heroes is a game that sounds like it could be fun, and then on closer examination, looks bizarrely empty, full of padding, and shallow in terms of story depth. However, when you actually experience it, you’re left with an experience that experiments with just how much it can employ the concept of “less is more.” It’s got a down to earth yet absurdist narrative that is incredibly rewarding with an extremely cool and satisfying combat system providing an unstoppable feeling. Some games really do live up to their hype, huh.
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