Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition Review
Platform: PS4, PC (Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Release: 17th October 2019
While Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes might not have been the third installment many were hoping for, though that one was luckily announced a few months later, the spin-off still set the return for Travis to the big screen. Now, after months of Switch exclusivity, it also made its way onto PC and PS4, so is it worth checking out?
Seeking revenge for the death of his daughter, Badman is sent to kill Travis Touchdown. However, not long after their confrontation, they’re getting sucked into the Death Drive MK 2 and have to cooperate in order to collect the six death balls and escape from this console.
Filled to the brim with retro games, references and nostalgia-inducing ideas, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes isn’t a new entry into the main series but rather an ode to everything it stands for, for Suda51. No More Heroes always was a series created with a deep love for retro games at heart, so this latest entry, while not focused on the series or even its mundane story, puts another, nearly as important aspect in full daylight, more so because it’s the most intuitive approach for this kind of title.
In exchange, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes offers guest appearances from every major Suda51 game, a whole lot of retro jokes and the core No More Heroes elements, like saving in a toilet or the 4th wall breaking Travis Touchdown. Since it’s also a way smaller game, most of these jokes aren’t scattered throughout the game like breadcrumbs but actually carry the whole experience. Additionally, most of them embrace indie culture in particular way more, which was simply not a thing to this extent back when the first two games released. Everything about the story and presentation just feels like the direction Suda51 wants to take No More Heroes in the end, a love letter to past but also up and coming games and classics.
On the other hand, the gameplay itself even is a set-up to the original two games. For me, No More Heroes never quite clicked in that regard, mainly due to the open world without a reason to exist and repetitive mission design. While the repetitive mission design is still present, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes 2D arcade gameplay all about slashing enemies is again, not the most complex one, but works as the short-lived fun this game wants to be.
Featuring snappy controls, responsive movement and a sword that feels quite powerful most of the time, the whole combat worked way better than in the main series, not to say it doesn’t have issues. Naturally, only having a hard and light attack, which rarely one-hit enemies, combined with hundreds of the same ones, makes for a pretty repetitive experience either way, it just feels faster in this new entry. So, don’t worry if you feared of missing out on the over usage of the mediocre combat. On top of that, most puzzles are designed to not be hard but mainly time-consuming, like rotating platforms in slow cutscenes until you found the right spot. The whole thing just feels like its slowing itself down since it doesn’t want to commit to being a fast-paced 2D hack’n slash.
The repetitivity also carries over into the world design itself, since Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes may feature many, varying, retro-inspired worlds but never quite manages to pace them well. Either it shows far too much of its stuff early on, making the mid and ending section a sluggish hell full of the ever-same corridors and ideas.
Unfortunately so, since the presentation is surprisingly great for a No More Heroes game. Featuring many vibrant and cool-looking environments, filled with retro throwbacks… when it works. In most cases, environments are so overused that they rarely are more than generic factories, brown backgrounds or repetitive neon filled ruins. Considering the occasionally great moments, it’s unfortunate to see most of the trip ending in the same repetition the series always fell into due to its production limitations.
All in all, No More Heroes Travis Strikes Back may be a repetitive and overly drawn endeavor but still the best entry into the series from many angles. Sacrificing its even worse components like the open world in exchange for an overall snarkier, tighter and more industry embracing, 4th wall breaking spin-off. So, whenever the third No More Heroes releases, I’m interested in what it will be.
[A Review Code was provided by Marvelous]