When you boot up Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, you’re thrust into the mayhem that doesn’t stop until the credits roll. A game from Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture is usually meant to be taken as an experience and less a product. Goichi Suda loves to make video games, and you know this by his past releases. What his latest game is, is a messy, but interesting game, and one that is always changing genres.
Like past games in the series, we return to the world of Assassins, toilets, and energy sabers, and after twelve years and a sequel, Travis Touchdown is back, but not how you remember.
As always, Suda51 pens a script so balls to the wall insane, that it can only work in this series. Set after the first game, Travis inevitably moves to the woods and hitches his trailer here where he plays his console, the Death Drive Mk II. Not is all as it seems however, as Bad Man, finds Travis and both find themselves zapped into several video games.
Unlike previous games which see you engage and defeat a series of assassins, this is a top-down isometric action game where your goal is to get to the end of level as you take on waves of enemies. The view reminds me of twin-stick shooters and uses that angle to Travis and his light saber or Bad Man and his bat. When playing as Travis, you’ll need to pay close attention to your weapon energy levels. When the sword loses all its energy, your attack does little damage, and you’ll need to recharge the weapon to restore your true strength.
Like before, when Like before, when you need to recharge, Travis shifts the sword to his crotch and you’ll need to recharge by flicking the R stick left or right as he “masturbates” with the sword. Swinging and slicing at enemies is fun and Travis is capable as a brawler (imagine putting Travis in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!) who unlocks some rad power-ups as the game progresses.
Between light and heavy attacks, and a total of 24 chips to find around the seven game worlds, Travis becomes a powerful character. Chips do an assortment of things in this game. Some might heal Travis, others shock and stun the enemy and others slow them down by projecting a field around them, there’s a bit of customization that lets you build your character, there’s a bit of customization that lets you build your character. All this ties into experience points, which you can dole out to either Travis or Bad Man to increase their strength and health.
Yeah, I agree that the idea sounds cool and initially I was on board. Each time Travis or Bad Man are sent into the Death Drive, its into a new game, each with different aesthetics. Unfortunately, this is little more than a gimmick and the gameplay doesn’t really shift from what is offered. Often, levels feel disjointed and samey, leaving you craving more.
In between, Travis and Bad Man hang out at Travis’s trailer. You can save, change shirts, and buy new t-shirts with the special coins earned in each level. There’s even a PC so you can check out and learn about all the Ramen you’ve eaten.
Boss Battles are what I enjoyed the most. I’d end up dying a handful of times before finally begin able to learn the enemy’s pattern. Gaining the upper hand and overcoming the obstacle felt satisfying. Most if not all battles happen in stages and increasingly become harder as each stage progresses. Each world features one mini-boss and one final boss.
Somehow, while the gameplay sometimes fails to live up to expectations, the presentation and writing stand out. Given the budget price, this game still manages to impress thanks to it’s wackiness. While not the third No More Heroes, this is a good starting point for a comeback for the series. Granted, this my least personal favourite game in the series, but there’s so much charm here. Suda51’s handprints are all over Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes but the simplistic gameplay leaves me wanting and wishing we got a true sequel before this.