No More Heroes III is a very Japanese hack and slash game by Grasshopper Manufacture recently released on Nintendo Switch.
The premise is based around over-the-top assassin Travis Touchdown who must save the world from aliens by completing ranked matches against the evil alien’s cronies until he can take on the boss man… uh boss alien himself.
And that’s pretty much it.
The game tries to go for a very strong retro vibe with many deliberately pixelated components and aspects, some sub menus, action instructions and UI options, however these aren’t quaint or cute.
I found them more jarring than anything else as some of the action instructions are difficult to make out and I wasn’t gently reminded of all the possible nostalgia that can come with the retro art style.
Although next to the actual graphics of the game; in world, character models and everything else not slapped over with the retro style, the pixelated parts are pleasing to the eyes.
It’s one thing to make an artistic choice and another to hide the poor graphics behind beloved and nostalgic art style.
The character models and environments are low res, poorly designed and quite chunky.
I can’t be sure if this too was an art style direction or lack of funding, but I did not find it appealing. Nintendo Switch is not known for its graphic capabilities but that doesn’t mean games have to look this bad.
On a slightly more positive note, the soundtrack is neither impressive nor offensive. It didn’t intrude on the experience, but it didn’t necessarily enhance the experience either.
The gameplay has several aspects.
Combat missions, side missions and ‘open world’ exploration.
Neither the side missions nor the open world exploration is particularly fun or engaging. Side mission can involve going around picking up pieces of garbage while the open world exploration is just a method to find these dull side missions and maybe try to break up the combat missions.
That said I feel I would have been perfectly happy to only partake in the combat missions without the tedious driving between venues.
I found I was more interested in getting to a combat scenario than participating in anything else in the game.
The game has many odd and bizarre quirks including breaking the fourth wall.
I personally can be very on board with this direction in games however it does take some ability to implement the immensely whacky but still maintain some semblance of direction and sense to allow the player to enjoy the bizarre humour and strange features the game offers without feeling put off or underwhelmed.
Sadly, No More Heroes III does not achieve this delicate balance. I appreciate what the developers may have been going for but alas they did not quite execute the idea very well.
No More Heroes III is a typical JRPG game, but this alone is not enough to make its execution or lack there of acceptable. The only experience the provides a satisfactory and engaging game is the combat.
It provides some much-needed depth the rest of the game is lacking. It has your basic light and heavy attack but does allow for few other well implemented aspects that make kills quite satisfying and requires some level of attention as your weapon needs to be charged up during combat, so monitoring this gives the player a good reason to pay a little bit more attention and plan out their attacks.
There are extra moves that can provide a brief tactical advantage and different enemies also require different approaches.
There are some sections where you take on a Gundam like robot in a battle however these segments, while moderately fun wasn’t as well developed as the hack and slash segment.
All in all, No More Heroes III is a hack and slash game that does the hack and slash aspect quite well while missing the bar on most other aspects.
It tries at wild and whacky but here too falls short of pulling this style game off. It may fuel some nostalgia for some out there that played its predecessor but probably replaying its predecessors is the better option.
Released: August 2021
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture