No More Heroes is generally considered Suda51's largest and most successful franchise. Especially considering it's one of the few to receive multiple games, and popular enough to receive a spin-off like in the form of Travis Strikes Again. The game once again stars the legendary assassin, Travis Touchdown, and this time he finds himself stuck in the video game world of the cancelled game console called the Death Drive. Along for the ride is Badman who's the father of a boss from the first game called Bad Girl, whom he wants to avenge the death of by killing Travis. They're transported to a six different game worlds throughout the story, each loosely based off other classic games and genres. So does Travis Strikes Again offer the same wacky murderous fun as the previous two entries? Let's take a look and find out.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is available for purchase on the Nintendo eshop for $29.99.
The story starts off with Badman finding Travis and chasing him down to avenge his daughter Bad Girl (or Charlotte) from the first No More Heroes. The two of them fight, and then are knocked into a cancelled video game console that Travis has called the Death Drive Mk 2. Most of the cutscenes from here on out are cutscenes of Travis or Badman speaking with the boss of each world. Depending on who you play as, the dialogue is a bit different which is a neat touch. Following them is a cutscene where Travis reflects on the boss of each game. The story has that fun and surreal charm that past games had, though it's also nothing to write home about. It would've been nice to see more of Badman and Travis's conflict, but it's barely touched upon until one of the final levels. An update was added to the game, where a new intro plays that slightly expands on Badman's mission and has a shocking reference to another one of Suda's games which I definitely appreciated it.
Before you start each stage there's a visual novel-esque set of cutscenes where Travis and his cat Jeane, go on a short adventure to retrieve a Death Drive to be able to play the next game. They are done in the style of a typical 2D retro game. These are funny self-aware segments that break the fourth wall. They provide nice story segments that have references to other Suda51 franchises and game. Like the stages in the game though, they tend to drag on a bit long. If there were voiceovers, that would've done these parts of the game a huge favor.
When I first saw how this game played in early previews I was incredibly worried. The game was a chore to simply watch, it seemed to barely play like the past two games, and it overall just looked very repetitive with very little variety in the gameplay. However when I actually gave the game a chance, I realized that the demos did not do the game justice, as the people playing just simply mashed the light attack button and hardly anything else. This was not the case as there are heavy attacks like in the past, as well a large variety of skills that can be acquired from bosses or items found in the stages. Only one of each skill can be equipped on each character, which is understandable for co-operative play, though somewhat frustrating for single-player having to switch skills if you feel like playing as the other character. There are certain skills that are exclusive to only Travis and Badman, though they're few and far between and don't appear until later in the game. There were minimal issues I noticed with the controls at all, and I've tried to out handheld controls and using both joycons undocked. There is some slight motion control required to charge up the beam katana/bat, however, it's very minor and is a nice call back to the first two games. The only issue I ever had was with jumping in a few platforming segments.
While the combat is simplistic, it feels smooth and satisfying. It's true the weaker enemies can be decimated very easily by only using light attacks, some enemies are stronger and more heavily armored that require use of strong attacks, skills, and the ultimate move. Even though the combat and pace of the game surprised me, that's not to say the game isn't repetitive. The combat is still more on the shallow end, and after the first few game worlds, you've seen about 90% of it. To add on to this, the game worlds also tend to drag on somewhat and feel like they could've been shorter (Aside from one stage that is incredibly short, and a typical "Suda51 No More Heroes" trademark). It would've been great if the worlds were slightly shorter, and that there were more game worlds to explore as an exchange.
In the same discussion of dragging on, before you start each stage there's a visual novel-esque set of cutscenes where Travis and his cat Jeane, go on a short adventure to retrieve a Death Drive to be able to play the next game. They are done in the style of a typical 2D retro game. These are funny self-aware segments that break the fourth wall. They provide nice story segments that have references to other Suda51 franchises and game. Like the stages in the game though, they tend to drag on a bit long. If there were voiceovers, that would've done these parts of the game a huge favor.
The replay value is decent, but nothing stellar. Any cleared levels can, of course, be revisited and there is New Game+ thankfully. There are many different t-shirts to buy, that are based off different indie games, and some that can only be achieved with tokens that are found within levels. Some skills can also be missed throughout the game as well. Lastly, there are also neat little easter eggs that can be found, by looking at in-game guides Travis gets that let you find a pixelated character. Outside of these, nothing really else to go back for.
Graphics and Sound
Travis Strikes Again is not exactly a technical marvel for the Nintendo Switch. However the game is still a graphical improvement since the second entry on the Wii, and even the enhanced port of the first game on the Playstation 3. While gameplay between Suda51's games can be debatable, one thing they always deliver on is style and presentation. The No More Heroes series, always had this pseudo cel shaded style that was so unique that added to the game's surreal experience. It now has sleeker and glossier look to the character models. I've played the game in both docked and handheld mode, and it seemed to run and look about the same on both.
The first time you boot up a game world an intro plays in the vein of a traditional video game intro. Each one is done in a different style from games of different eras, which sets the mood and is a small detail to look forward to trying out each game world. The game worlds themselves are colorful and distinct, but at the same time are very minimalistic. There also isn't a large amount of variety in the levels either, though they typically do have seperate. Character models, style, and presentation is where this game (and most other Suda51 games) shine at in the graphics department.
No More Heroes generally has some very catchy, unique, and fun tracks to listen to while mowing down foes, and this game is no exception. Some songs stand out more than others, but they're all really great tunes that fit the worlds they play in. They're just great for atmosphere, and great for hacking and slashing as well. The sound effects that can be heard throughout the game are also great to. Admittedly a lot are just taken from the past No More Heroes games, such as the "charging up" jingle, but there is nothing wrong with this as it makes this entry feel more like a part of the No More Heroes universe. Otherwise many of the sound effects are heavily inspired by classic games that ooze with nostagia and charm.
In terms of voice acting, it's really well done. However everything outside of combat, the two opening and ending cinematics don't have any voiceovers. While the text sounds and presnetations are unique and cool to hear, it would've helped the game overall a bit to have these, especially since it feels like a waste to have huge voice acting talent like Steven Blum and Robin Atkin Downs and not utilitize them to their fullest.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes definitely deserved better marketing, and was overall a pleasant surprise from a game I did not expect that much from. Even though the first two games had more to offer, and despite feeling more like an appetizer for the possible No More Heroes 3, this is still a solid entry especially for being a budget price spin-off game. It's easier to recommend this to someone that is already a Suda51 or No More Heroes fan that enjoys the simplistic but incredibly stylish aesthetic and tone of their games. However, if you're just looking for a fun quirky beat em up on the Switch, this game still is recommended especially since it's not full price. Playing the game co-operatively also would help increase the value Lastly buying physical is suggested due to that version coming with the season pass.
|+ Great style and atmosphere||– Levels can drag on|
|+ Self-aware and fun story||– Combat still can get repetitive and simplistic|
|+ Satisfying and tight combat||– Monotonous Visual novel segments|
|+ Fun references to other games||– Little variety|
|+ Good co-op experience||– Minimal voiceovers|