No More Heroes 3 is Finally Going to Give Me More of the Series I Love
It's been way too long since we've had our last dose of Travis Touchdown, and I can't wait for No More Heroes 3 to arrive this year.
You would think how I found my way to No More Heroes–the franchise that has stayed near and dear to my heart–should be more dramatic, considering how over-the-top the series is itself. I first became aware of No More Heroes for the Wii through gaming magazines during my college years. Then I found that the main character, Travis Touchdown, was an unabashed and staunch otaku who wielded a lightsaber — I mean beam katana (which admittedly is still a really cool name) and used wrestling moves to devastating effects. The cel-shaded graphics and bright visuals spoke to my aesthetics and, as I found, I immensely enjoyed the plot, the ridiculously excellent soundtrack, the crazy characters, and the equally insane world.
Then the second title, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, dropped and I eagerly devoured it. I wanted so badly to return to the crazy and endearing world of No More Heroes that I grew to love, all while loving the reversal of having Travis pursued and pitted against enemies wanting both revenge and the prestige that would come with his death at their hands. And while I wasn’t a fan of losing the sandbox mechanics from the first entry, the second entry still delivered a more than enjoyable experience that left me wanting even more.
Let’s fast forward to March 2019, when No More Heroes director Goichi “Suda51” Suda referenced in an interview the teaser for a possible third entry at the end of Travis Strikes Again, which was released in January of that year. As someone who had played this spin-off title, I was already hyped for a proper third game. Then Suda51 left us with the cryptic message: “I hope around E3 time I’ll have something cool to announce.” I went absolutely nuts with excitement.
My excitement continued to mount when Suda51 took to Twitter and shared a simple message with fans: “go to E3.” Posted along with the statement was an image that resembled the cover art from Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album. The “joyplot” of the image resembled that of a shattered star, which has long been the symbol for the No More Heroes series. Despite the hint being so incredibly obtuse, it was the perfectly eccentric way to tease this game and it managed to accomplish its intended goal. I truly felt like the hungry horse with a deliciously tempting carrot dangled in front of my face, and I didn’t even care.
Then E3 2019 happened and the building hype finally came to a fever pitch. During Nintendo’s E3 Direct, fans finally had a glorious trailer that showcased some of Travis’s trademark moves and weapon, as well as hinting at an extraterrestrial threat. Gameplay-wise the mechanics and animations for both his beam katana and wrestling moves were smooth, lacking the jerkiness of the much older entries. The graphical upgrades made the cel-shaded visuals pop as well as created a seamless transition between the cutscenes and combat. From that teaser alone I was completely sold on this third entry and knew it would be something special. Of course, the 2020 release window sweetened the deal, as it meant we wouldn’t be waiting too long to sink our teeth into this delicious meal.
Even more wonderful news surfaced in November that No More Heroes 3 was “about 35-40 percent complete.” So not only did this reinforce the tangible progress of the game’s development, but proved that its release window of 2020 was feasible. And with the return of the beloved motion controls from the first and second games on Wii, it meant that I could finally recharge my beam katana the proper way again.
December of last year brought a brand new trailer that premiered during The Game Awards 2019, and it was phenomenal. It took the hint of an extraterrestrial threat that was shown in the previous trailer and completely ran with the concept, giving us this amazing ET-like beginning only to have it cruelly and brilliantly subverted.
The brief summary of the trailer, titled “The Return,” and of the game’s overall premise is thus: “We follow the story of a young boy finding an alien named Fu. This boy, named Damon, takes care of Fu before the alien leaves in his rocket, promising to return twenty years later.” The trailer then jumps ahead twenty years and Fu returns, but his motives are now much more sinister. Fu begins attacking the planet and vows to take it over, much to the dismay of Damon. We then see a title appear for what seems to be a game called “Goddamn Superhero,” before it then cuts and is instead revealed to be part of No More Heroes 3.
Seeing that beautifully animated trailer — the goofy plot that contrasts its tense atmosphere, the ridiculous yet oddly heartbreaking execution of that emotional betrayal, the eclectic designs of the aliens that belie their sinister depths — really drove home the potential of this concept. Not to mention it served as a reminder that the No More Heroes franchise is one of the few that can truly deliver on this concept in a fun and satisfying way. I rewatched this trailer more times than I care to admit.
Despite the eponymous protagonist’s sarcastic line “2020 release? Heh, good luck!” at the end of the trailer which poked fun at the unlikelihood of No More Heroes 3 actually coming out on time, the wild and eccentric action game is still my most anticipated title of this year.
No More Heroes 3 is coming exclusively for the Nintendo Switch and expected to release sometime in 2020.