It has been 10 whole years since the last main game in the No More Heroes franchise.
This has left players - and Travis - older, more cynical and much less willing to get swept away in the games of our youth.
Despite all its issues, No More Heroes 3 captured me again.
Getting sucked in all over again
Part of what makes me so willing to get sucked up into the world of No More Heroes is just how self-indulgent Suda 51 made it.
Santa Destroy (the game’s central location) feels like a world built by your geeky childhood friend.
Travis’ room is adorned in anime posters, his bike is a homage to Akira - every single thing references something.
You are playing the mind of an “Otaku” and this comes with the creative freedom to do pretty much anything.
This indulgence works wonderfully in its favour to become possibly the most unique game I’ve played all year.
Even its worst moments can be overlooked when the next moments feel so fresh.
You’re much more willing to look over No More Heroes 3’s mediocre graphics and repetitive side missions when they’re still fun to repeat and explore.
This isn’t a new issue but it feels a little more intentional this time around.
Damon Riccitiello (seen in Travis Strikes Again) forms an E.T style connection with an alien named FU before it escapes Earth. Now years after the events of the second No More Heroes game, Damon’s alien pal finds his way back in order to conquer.
What about Travis Touchdown?
Travis, now the 11th best assassin in the galaxy, has to fight his way up the ranks to stop them from taking over.
A strange premise only made stranger through its odd pacing and hundreds of easter eggs.
No More Heroes has become a storage hog on my Nintendo Switch’s memory and not due to its download size. I now have hundreds of little clips and pictures - small references and things I might have missed.
There’s something incredibly addictive about the overarching story of No More Heroes 3, even if
the moment-to-moment occasionally lets it down. Before you can fight the next assassin, you have to complete the right missions and make enough money to pay your registration fee.
Unfortunately, there’s not enough variety in these quests, often feeling like a needless stop-gap in all that action. It does serve the purpose of giving little bits of story and levelling up your character but it rarely feels like anything more than a distraction.
The gameplay fits the mould set by previous games, combining an addictive hack and slash combat with some nice finishing moves.
Exploding out of the crevices of the Quick Time Event fuelled era of the late naughties, this focus on the spectacle feels dated in a way that is oddly refreshing.
How does it feel?
No More Heroes 3’s combat often looks great with special moves, finishing blows and interesting enemies.
With tonnes of colour and stylish kill screens, there are so many cool moments and screenshot-worthy pictures.
The same could be said for both the music and art.
It attempts to dive wildly between genres and if you’re in the know, nails what makes them work. Starting out in an arcade and referencing rhythm games, Final Fantasy and tonnes more, it managed to draw a smile out of me at every single attempt it made.
Bosses work in a similar fashion. Suda 51 often compared its bosses with those of the Avengers and, after playing through it, this feels like a reasonable comparison.
He grabs that monstrous aura - the overwhelming power - and taints it.
He sets you up to expect something and has them brutally murdered or learn a new skill.
It hides so many sucker punches that only really exist if you see the trope coming. This is a game built on pop culture, one only really understood by humans.
The combat between aliens and everyone else is one of culture - one of understanding.
Suda taps into that cultural zeitgeist to pull out something wholly unique.
No More Heroes has always fit this funny niche between stylish and geeky, in a way that is charming and oh so replayable.
It goes from a cool visual effect or exploding skull to a poop joke in a second and doesn't really care if you’re following along.
Ultimately, this is how people will likely connect with Suda 51’s latest.
There are plenty of things to be put off by in No More Hereos 3 but that wondrous charm always makes its way to the surface.
I could see new players being put off by the surreal nature of No More Heroes but, if you love his previous work, this is Suda 51 through and through.
RealSport Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
We reviewed No More Heroes 3 on Nintendo Switch & Review Code provided by the publisher.