It's A Beam Katana! - Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
This was not a review I wanted to write, not because I was being a lazy ass… but because of what it means to write it. I was a huge fan of both No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2 from the Nintendo Wii, while I’ve always been a fan of Suda51’s work, I felt certain that he wasn’t going to steer us wrong as long as Travis Touchdown and anything involving No More Heroes is involved. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes.
Travis Strikes Again is not No More Heroes 3, but with that said the possibility of No More Heroes 3 hinges on the success of this title. Travis Strikes Again has our favorite otaku assassin retiring to a trailer in the woods, unfortunately his peace and quiet is disturbed when Badman, the father of one of the assassins Travis killed, attacks him and inadvertently has himself and Travis sucked into a videogame. It’s here that we get the meat of the whole plot. Travis has been playing with the Deathdrive, a mystical video game console featuring six games called “Deathballs.” Legend has it, if you conquer each game you are given one wish… a wish that Badman wants to use to resurrect his daughter. Somehow, Travis agrees to help him and it is here that we start our story.
Oh and yes… the story really is that derivative…
Despite being set across six different game worlds, controls are essentially the same across all of them. Each world has a theme based on that game, like one world is played like a puzzle game while another is a racing game. While the unique mechanics of each game change, the combat stays the same. For example, in one world you need to rearrange a neighborhood to reach one central location… when you reach that location you gotta fight some baddies. Focusing on the combat, it’s passable and feels familiar. You can combo light and heavy attacks, dodge, and pull off special attacks. Your special moves are equipped and carry with it a cool-down timer. While combat is simple enough to grasp, there’s nothing to write home about. Just like previous titles, when your beam katana is out of power you need to “power it up” with some suggestive hand gestures. Where I found the game failed was in the unique gameplay elements of each level, from a barely passable platformer to a frustratingly broken racing game. These gameplay elements are absolute garbage. I can’t even begin to explain how frustrated I was by how bullshit the games mechanics were.
In case you don’t want to suffer alone, there is a co-op mode where your player 2 can join in as Badman. This can help with some parts of the game’s more frustrating bits, but even co-op couldn’t save such a lackluster gameplay experience.
In between romping around different game worlds, the most unique bit of the game is in how they tell the story. Told via a retro visual novel style, you roam around looking for the “Deathballs” with your trusty cat Jeane. These moments of absolutely no gameplay made for honestly my favorite part of the package. Full of what makes Grasshopper Manufacture such a unique developer, these moments are full of Suda51’s brand of ridiculous. It’s at these points where I feel like I’m playing a No More Heroes game again.
Visually, Travis Strikes Again looks good but not great. I know what the Switch is capable of and while I get that this isn’t a title on PS4 or XB1, I was expecting a better looking game here. The style is very on-brand for Suda51 and the No More Heroes series, so while thematically the harsh lines and comic-book-esque aesthetic works, the quality of texture maps for example are so low res it clashes with some of the more visually impressive parts. I love that they brought back the t-shirts, even going so far as to including shirts from real-world games. What’s a shame is that since most of the game has you playing from such a wide angle you barely get to see the cool shirts you’re wearing.
Despite some good here, there was just so much of this game that was unpolished I can’t recommend it. Even worse, as a big fan of both the previous No More Heroes games, I feel conflicted here because basically it feels like the No More Heroes 3 is being held hostage, their demands being to buy this painfully unpolished game. It pains me to give a No More Heroes game and a Suda51 project such a low score… but I gotta.
1.5 out of 5
Flaccid… Weak… Unpolished mess