No More Heroes III was a throwback for me, for better or worse. It’s a game I wanted a decade ago, but that means it feels like it should’ve come out a decade ago. But while I was happy to have the bulk of that experience again, it did remind me of one of the silly, but memorable features of the first game on the original Wii that I deeply missed playing the third on Switch.
The No More Heroes series is about taking down assassins as Travis Touchdown, all in an effort to climb the ranks of the greatest killers in the world. Much of that ascension is bloody and loud, but there’s a specific thing I looked forward to before each of these fights that was decidedly quiet, and I was happy to see it return in No More Heroes III.
Before each of these boss fights, Travis will get a call from his wife Sylvia Christel, who will brief him on his next opponent as he walks down a hallway to his target. Usually, these ended with Sylvia saying she had little faith Travis would make it back from the fight, but he would go on to prove her wrong every time. She would conclude each of these calls by telling Travis he was headed into the “garden of madness,” though she calls it the “garden of insanity” in No More Heroes III. Even though it was different, I still felt pumped up for the fight ahead every time I heard her sign off.
But her sign-off isn’t the only thing that’s changed, how the call is delivered to the player is different, as well. The original game launched on the Wii, and that system had a special feature that the Switch’s Joy-Con doesn’t: a speaker embedded into the controller. In the original No More Heroes, Sylvia’s calls would play through the Wii remote’s speaker, which meant you had to hold the controller to your ear like you would a real phone. I remember being a fair way’s into the original game back in 2008 and already familiar with the idea when my brother had come into the room to watch me play, and even he had a moment where he chuckled when he saw me hold the controller just as Travis held his phone. It wasn’t the peak of innovation the Wii promised when it introduced its remote-styled controller and all its motion-controlled glory, but it was such a small, clever detail that I genuinely missed in No More Heroes III.
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In recent years, a controller with a built-in microphone is only really happening over at PlayStation with the DualSense and DualShock 4. Which has been used in similar ways in games like Transistor, which let you hear your character’s talking sword (I mean, it’s kind of like Boyfriend Dungeon, when you think about it) speak through the controller. So perhaps in a world where No More Heroes III makes its way to PlayStation, we might get to hear Sylvia berate us through the controller once again. Until then, I’ll just put headphones in and pretend I’m taking the call through a bluetooth headset.