Me and Travis Touchdown go way back. I can track my journey as a person alongside No More Heroes, and I’m not sure what I think about that. But it’s true. The original game was formative for me, fresh out of high school and not yet aware 4chan was a bad place. I latched onto Suda51’s punk rock meets anime meets late aughts edgelordery like velcro. I started growing up, and weirdly enough so did Travis. No More Heroes 2 was about turning regret into freedom, pushing against a world that hates you and forging your identity out of spite and stacks of anime DVDs. 

No More Heroes III Review

Somehow we’ve made it to No More Heroes 3, over a decade later. In-between then and now Travis crash-landed into adulthood, and so did I. We’re both dads, which is absolutely bonkers considering where we were ten years ago. This can’t be a formative experience anymore. We’re over that hump. This is what it’s like to go past learning who you are, and ride that violent wave towards battering that identity into a life. Travis Touchdown started as a horny otaku loser who bought a sword online and got suckered into becoming a murderer. What does that person look like as an adult, a grown-ass man who made it through, burnt the shit down from the top and made some friends?

Well, in this case, the answer is “a goddamn superhero.” The world is so different now; online communities are thriving and changing the game from the ground up, earnesty is cooler than ever and the oceans are boiling. Our problems are bigger than ever, but so is our power. Travis Touchdown isn’t just a horny assassin anymore. He’s a teacher, husband, dad and a horny otaku burnout. Also, he has a Henshin device that turns him into a tokusatsu hero-slash-mecha-slash-pro wrestling god. There’s a lot happening in No More Heroes 3. You really can’t start here.

Related: No More Heroes Boss Guide: How to Beat Every Boss and Unlock the Real Ending

Still wearing that jacket, still pomping up his hair and still voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, Travis Touchdown is still himself. But he’s visibly older and worn down. Or is he? It’s hard to say, but he still knows how to wield a beam katana. And he needs it more than ever, as the world is facing a hilariously anti-Hideo Miyazaki alien invasion. You’ll have to see that for yourselves to know what that means. After spending years navigating the world of personal grudges and brutal murder, now our guy has to save the world.

It’s hard to explain just what No More Heroes 3 feels like compared to the other games. That’s where all that introductory rambling came from. There’s a new kind of vibe here, one that shows while punk isn’t dead, it’s certainly a lot older. Suda51 and games (and gamers) have changed so much in ten years, and you can feel it in No More Heroes 3. Travis has a slightly different air to him, a different cadence, but he’s still the smarmy piece of lovable garbage he always was. He’s just, like, almost 40 now. He’s been content to lounge around in his boxers, unshaven and binging Takashi Miike films with Bishop since we last saw him. Now a bunch of enemies he has nothing to do with are dragging him back into the UAA rankings, his wife Sylvia back to her… you know, whatever the hell her job was.

Everything you’re doing is familiar from the previous games, from boosting around a janky overworld in a nearly literal Akira motorcycle to doing goofy odd-jobs to afford boss fight entrance fees. But the energy has softened a bit. The music is less loud and aggressive, and more adventurous. Instead of playing videogames to earn money, you’re doing things like planting trees and uh, fighting alligators. There are so many alligators in this game. And you can suplex almost all of them.

Speaking of suplexes, Suda told me in an interview that No More Heroes 3 would feature the 12 different suplexes used by Japanese wrestler Akira Maeda. And man, those suplexes look good. You get a Northern Lights, a backbreaker, belly to belly, vertical suplex, brainbuster, so on and so on and so on. Combat feels quite sloppy here, but a barrel of new options have been dumped all over it. In addition to the beam katana shenanigans, you have a constant roulette wheel offering boosts, and a “Death Glove” that gives you four very situational abilities on cooldowns. One of them is a dropkick that does hellacious damage, and is hype as shit every time it lands.

And you’ll land a lot of them. No More Heroes was notorious for being kind of grindy in-between the boss fights, and the third outing does a lot to alleviate that feeling. Minigames are a little more involved and fast-paced, and there are lots of different collectibles that get you quick money. And your real keys to progress are designated battle spots, which have evolved from tedious wave battling in the first game to more focused, challenging showdowns. You also get a NES manual-style introduction each time you meet a new enemy, which is a riot.

There’s so much going on in No More Heroes, and there’s no way to process it all your first time through. And if this is literally your first No More Heroes, I weep for your brain. This game is all the way up its own ass but in a way that makes oh so much sense if you’ve been along for the ride the whole time. It’s almost cathartic, knowing that even Travis “downward fucking dog” Touchdown can grow up and better himself over a couple decades. It just took an apocalyptic alien invasion to get him the rest of the way there.

This is more of a “what on Earth have I experienced” essay than a game review, but honestly who cares? No More Heroes 3 is everything it should be and what that means to you isn’t going to be mappable to a number. If you’re me and have connected with this godforsaken series from the get go, I can’t stress enough how much this videogame feels like everything good about the passage of time. If you aren’t and are just looking for a cool action game, you might come out more confused than entertained. Play the other two first and add or subtract a point or two from the score accordingly.


 

Pros:

  • The story-unlocked “Fuck Racism” hoodie with dad sandals outfit rules
  • The spirit of pro wrestling burns bright
  • Tons of very on brand surprises with boss fights

Cons:

  • Excellent performance marred by fuzzy visuals due to resolution compromise
  • Hates you if you haven’t played the other games
  • Combat leans sloppy; dodging and combos don’t work as smoothly as in the second game

Score: 8.5

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review