Travis Strikes Again may disappoint some hardcore No More Heroes fans out there. The game isn't as much of a sequel as people have built it up to be – rather, it feels much more like a spin off than anything else. This being said, the distinction hardly bears any significance here, as Travis Strikes Again is in the making to be yet another reason why gamers should buy a Switch if they haven't already.
The brief demo I got to play at PAX East 2018 allowed me the chance to experience one level and its climatic boss fight together with a co-op partner who took on the role of Bad Man, who simultaneously serves as the game's main antagonist (how this plays out in the game's narrative, I have no idea). Each player has access to a healing circle and bubble shield to use during battle which, when coordinating correctly with a friend, can yield quite flashy – albeit gruesome – combination attacks. Of course, if you'd much rather smash light and heavy attacks together to get the job done, that option is there, but it isn't as satisfying as teaming up with someone nearby.
The presentation of the level I got to play made me feel like I was an active participant in a Tron movie, with neon blue lights besetting me and my partner as we sliced and diced through waves of foes. This falls in line with previous entries in the series, sure, especially when considering how bizarre some of these enemies looked, but Travis Strikes Again manages to create its own identity set within the confines of video game reality. It helps that this particular level has a very retro feel to it, too, aiding in the impression that I was playing a more sinister version of Wreck-It Ralph. To top it all off, coins pour out of enemies once you defeat them and each player is ranked on how points they manages to score within a level.
As alluded to previously, the gameplay here is largely unchanged from the series Wii iterations. You'll still have to "shake" your controller to charge up Travis' sword and rip apart enemies one by one in brutal fashion to get to the final boss. Though I ultimately only got to spend 15 minutes with the game, this was perhaps the most disappointing aspect – the game very much feels like its going through the motions sometimes. Though we have been promised variety in other levels, including puzzles and more gameplay tweaks, here's hoping the title won't rely too much on the tired hack and slash gameplay its known for.
For those that may have feared that the series' signature humor wouldn't return, rest assured knowing that even in the minuscule chance I had to play the game, there were many, many crude one-liners and hilarious game references. Also, just in case this was on your mind, Travis still gets on the toilet to save the game, so no worries on that front.
Travis Strikes Again No More Heroes is due out later this year exclusively for Nintendo Switch. Here's hoping that the rest of the game manages to leave a lasting impression on me as my short time with the game has so far, and that Grasshopper has implemented some nice gameplay variations to keep the series feeling fresh and new.