Review – No More Heroes (Switch)

My first experience with the No More Heroes franchise was by playing Travis Strikes Again, a spinoff originally released in early 2019 for the Nintendo Switch. I found that game to be somewhat boring and very unfunny, but I still wanted to tackle the proper mainline No More Heroes games. I thought that most issues I’ve encountered in that game, be it gameplay or thematically, were a consequence of it being a low budget spinoff. Now that the original No More Heroes is finally out in remastered form on the Switch, it was time to see if I was right to call the spinoff a fluke, or if the series as a whole was as bland as that appetizer.

No More Heroes

Travis Touchdown is based on Johnny Knoxville and manages to be even more insufferable than his source of inspiration.

In No More Heroes, we play as Travis Touchdown, who can easily be described as the love child between Johnny Knoxville and pre-disfigurement Wade Wilson. He is a doofus who lives in a motel, spending most of his time (and money) on anime dolls, waifu pillows, and wrestling videos. After spending all of his remaining money on a “beam katana” (basically an uglier lightsaber), he resorts to becoming a killer-for-hire in order to get more cash. This leads him into a weird competition in which he needs to kill highly ranked assassins and become the best of them all.

What we have here is a hack n’ slash that simply did not stand the test of time. The gameplay loop revolves around fighting hordes of weak grunts in corridor-based levels with a simple and shallow combat system. Then you’ll have to defeat a much more complex boss at the end of the stage. You have an assortment of high and low-stance slashes, as well as a stunning kick and a grab. Although, you can easily get rid of grunts by simply smashing both attack buttons until a small right stick prompt shows up onscreen for you to perform a super gory finishing move on them. It’s passable cathartic fun, but don’t expect anything as good (or varied) as a Platinum Games title.

No More Heroes

What a lovely chap…

Boss battles are easily the game’s highlight. They are long, challenging, and demanding, often requiring you to memorize attack patterns, deal with mobs of grunts, and endure different offensive stages. You also have to fight against the game’s camera during these fights. While there is a lock-on function, it isn’t that simple to change your focus between enemies, just like in pretty much any other game with the same functionality released since 1998. It works, but it should have been tinkered with after thirteen years. The other sad thing about these boss battles is that they’re few and far between.

Sadly, you’ll spend most of your time either mowing down grunts in the main campaign’s levels, or wasting your time in one of No More Heroes‘ many filler sections. In between duels against assassins, you have to acquire money to pay your entry fee. This forces you to wander around one of the most pointless open world maps in gaming history, dealing with one of the worst driving mechanics I have ever had to deal with. The controls are super stiff, the button placement is nonsensical, and the world is just barren. The open world is here just for the sake of having an open world.

No More Heroes

Raining Blood.

These filler sections are comprised of repetitive and mundane assassination sidequests, in which you drive to a place and try to kill your target as quickly as possible. There are also some minigames, which are undoubtedly the dumbest and most pointless bits in No More Heroes. Suda51 attempted to break the ice with some humorous minigames, but having to punch palm trees and carry coconuts to a vendor with sluggish controls isn’t fun. Nor funny. Yakuza, this is definitely not.

No More Heroes‘ gameplay is average at best and so is its overall presentation. Its visuals are a mixed bag. I like the cel-shaded art style and the ridiculous amounts of blood splattered on the floor whenever you kill an enemy. I also appreciate the improved framerate, even if it suffers some dips whenever there’s too much action onscreen (as in, almost always). However, I really did not like its stupidly bland, corridor-like environments, nor did I appreciate how hideous its character models are. Sure, Travis and the bosses are well-designed, but everyone else looks like a low-poly character from a Nintendo 64 game. Looking at them in high definition just makes them even less appealing to the eyes.

I am pretty sure this might actually be the most boring and unnecessary open world map I have ever seen.

The real downer is the fact that, for a game that’s supposed to be comedic, No More Heroes just didn’t make me laugh. Not even once. Travis Touchdown, voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, is one insufferable douchebag, devoid of charisma or charm. His entire personality is based around delivering reference-based dialogue or the silliest of lines, none of them actually landing particularly well. Downes, known for his works like Kaz Miller in Metal Gear Solid V and Luxord in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, delivers an annoying performance in here.

The fact that I disliked No More Heroes‘ sense of humor might sound hypocritical, considering that I loved the humor in the Saints Row IV and the Deadpool game, but these games had something No More Heroes severely lacks: good voice acting. Nolan North, who voices the protagonists of both aforementioned games, delivers hilarious performances. These are also backed by a smart script that doesn’t always rely on reference-based humor or in the juvenile thought that pooping on a toilet on the saving screen is supposed to be funny. I used to think that this weak sense of humor was an outlier issue from Travis Strikes Again, but I’m starting to think that this is present in basically all of the games in the franchise…

These side minigames aren’t fun at all. Yakuza, this is not.

I used to think that I wasn’t getting No More Heroes‘ appeal because my only previous experience with the franchise had been its mediocre spinoff from 2018. Sadly, after playing this remaster of the original game, I have to say that my point stands. No More Heroes is shallow as a puddle, dated in terms of gameplay, and really not funny for a game that’s supposed to be comedic. If anything, this game just made me want to replay the Deadpool game once more. That one is equally clunky, but hey, it made me laugh more than once at least.


Graphics: 7.0

The art style is unique and it actually holds up pretty well in some areas, but the game as a whole just looks way too dated. It also suffers from some framerate drops whenever things get too intense onscreen, as in almost always.

Gameplay: 5.5

A simple yet enjoyable hack ‘n’ slash combat system coupled with a wonky camera and some of the worst and most unnecessary driving mechanics in recent memory.

Sound: 6.5

While the soundtrack is actually pretty good, you’ll rarely be able to pay attention to it due to the poor audio mixing combined with excruciatingly loud enemy screams. The voice acting is a mixed bag, with Travis Touchdown’s voice actor delivering the worst performance of the bunch.

Fun Factor: 6.0

It might be unique and its combat can be fun at times, but this is a perfect example of style over substance. It features an open world map for no particular reason. Its minigames are pointless. To make matters worse, this is a supposedly humorous game that failed to make me chuckle even once.

Final Verdict: 6.0

No More Heroes is available now on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of No More Heroes was provided by the publisher.