Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Switch) Review

Video Game Assassins

If you were a fan of the original No More Heroes 1 and 2 on the Wii, then you were no doubt excited when Grasshopper Manufacture’s Suda51 unveiled that there would be a new installment, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, on the Nintendo Switch. Travis Touchdown, anime fan and assassin, is back for another mature-rated outing with Suda51’s signature brand of over-the-top humor. As a spinoff, it’s markedly different from its predecessors, sporting top-down hack-and-slash gameplay as opposed to the series’ hyper-stylistic gore fests.

 

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!


The story premise is one of Travis Strikes Again’s strongest points. It begins with the bat-wielding Bad Man, who arrives at Travis’ trailer to get revenge on the man who killed his daughter, Bad Girl. Their scuffle causes the Death Drive Mk. II, a phantom game console, to suck them into the world of video games. From there, the two set out to seek the Death Balls, each hosting a different game, and complete them in order to make a wish. As is Suda51’s trademark style, the plot is ridiculous and insane twists come out of nowhere. Characters are crude and unafraid to break the fourth wall. And it wouldn’t be a No More Heroes game without the best game mechanic: saving on the toilet.

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Travis Touchdown for Super Smash Bros? There, I said it.

While Travis Strikes Again may have the series’ charm, it loses a bit of its no-holds barred identity. The behind-the-shoulder perspective is replaced with a top-down view, preventing your characters from standing out. Flashy kills are replaced by hacking at bland enemies, depicted as game bugs. The cutscenes look stunning in HD, but they are few and far between. Travis’ cocky personality and voice is such a dominant aspect of his character, but the voiceover is sadly limited to these few cutscenes.

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Travis and Bad Man can team up against big bad bugs in co-op mode.

The hack-and-slash mechanics aren’t elegant, but they get the job done. You play as Travis with his Beam Katana or Bad Man with his bat, though both control similarly. You can perform a continuous weak attack by flailing your weapon or strike with a stronger but slower attack. Eventually you must recharge your weapon, which is awkward. You must press down the left control stick and repeatedly push the right stick side to side, or if you’re using the Joy-Con, rapidly shake the controller. It’s a difficult maneuver in the heat of battle.

You can equip up to four abilities from a set of collectible Skill Chips, and you can create different loadouts for Travis and Bad Man, each of whom have exclusive skills. The abilities, which include electric shocks, dashing, and force fields, are rewarding to pull off. However, most have such a lengthy cooldown timer that you end up spamming your standard attacks anyway. Last but not least is a charge attack, in which your character rushes through the screen. It’s exciting to execute, dealing heavy damage and awarding bonus strength, provided you don’t get hurt.

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A crazy, noisy, bizarre town.

Every level follows a standard beat ‘em up loop of running through an area, getting locked in a room, and fighting enemy spawns until the game lets you continue. It feels especially repetitive due to the limited moveset and generic foes. Local two-player co-op helps offset the repetition, allowing you to experience the craziness with a friend. It’s convenient that either player can jump in or out at any time.

What most prevents the game from being an utter slog is its basic premise – that Travis is traveling through different game worlds. It’s an ode to gaming, and enthusiasts will appreciate the throwback jingles. Every world exhibits its own graphical interface, musical instrumentation, and mechanic deviations based on a variety of genres. For instance, one game has puzzle elements where you must flip tiles to form a path, and another features vector car racing. My favorite zone involves light platforming on bouncy doughnuts, complete with a sidescrolling perspective. I wish more levels were as ambitious as that world. Based on the trailer, I had envisioned a huge range of gameplay. Yet for the most part, each area is largely a hack-and-slash marathon with the genre shifts serving as diversionary minigames. The exception is the built-in text adventures that you experience between worlds. As humorous as they are, these mandatory story segments won’t appeal to everyone. They’re essentially low-fi cutscenes with zero interactivity.

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Mmm…donuts.

You can distribute experience points freely between Travis and Bad Man to level them up. Those who want a spicier challenge can opt out of leveling up characters as well as switch to a higher difficulty. With normal progression, I never felt the need to grind, but there is a pesky lives system that adds some artificial strain. If you run out of lives, you’re thrown back to the game menu, but you can warp back to your most recent save toilet. The digital bosses, unfortunately, don’t have too much depth, especially for a series known for memorable boss encounters. These hardcore fracas are plenty exciting, though – a showcase of flashy powers requiring more intense strategies.

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Of course I’d sport a good old SteamWorld Dig 2 shirt!

Travis Strikes Again takes about ten hours to beat, not including the paid DLC, but I was motivated to replay levels for several reasons. For one, each world hides secrets that you can only find by inputting cheat codes. Creative digital pamphlets provide hints, replicating that nostalgic feeling of opening up a strategy guide or an issue of Nintendo Power. The collectible coins allow you to purchase t-shirts based on numerous indie games. It’s awesome to rep your favorite indies, even if you can’t see the t-shirts clearly midgame.

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Scoring a “Touchdown!”

Conclusion

Overall, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is a decent spinoff. The hack-and-slash gets tiresome, but it works in small bursts and is a fine fit for the Switch’s handheld mode. The graphical genre shifts and peppered in minigames provide good variety, thematically feeding into Travis’ love for games. It’s not a visually exciting entry, but it may still be worth it for fans of the series to indulge in Travis’ latest adventure. The insane story beats and off-the-wall humor are still here, alongside satisfying teases. This may not be No More Heroes 3, but Travis Strikes Again stands as a fine stepping stone for Suda51’s otaku assassin.

Score: 7/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was posted on DarkStation.

What do you think of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes? Have you played the No More Heroes series? Have any favorite Suda51 games? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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14 thoughts on “Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Switch) Review

  1. Great review! First one of the New Year too! Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes looks interesting, even it is apparently not as stylish as the Wii No More Heroes games. So I guess Travis is an anti-hero–kinda like Deadpool without the costume. I appreciate his otaku-ness and love for video games! I haven’t played the No More Heroes series but this does seem pretty entertaining for a hack-and-slash, and co-op is always a plus. I was surprised by the toilet saving; that’s certainly…unique. This game caters to a certain audience, that’s for sure. Again, excellent job and Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Your support and encouragement, especially during this busy time of the new year means a lot to me! Even though I wasn’t as keen on some of the gameplay elements of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, I love the characters and world they build. It’s not as stylish as the No More Heroes games on Wii, but it’s still pretty hilarious (especially the text adventure parts), and I like the meta references and throwbacks to retro games. The Death Drive Mk. II’s SEGA jingle is great, too. Reminds me of another jingle that takes a few cues from Sega… hmmm…PAAAANDAAAA!! Thank you again, and Happy New Year!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently watched the Nintendo Minute episode on this game and concluded that I don’t think it’s really for me. It just looked way too simplistic. Your review kind of hammered that point in too. It doesn’t sound bad, just not what I’d be interested in. Which is a bummer because I’d love to support the game to hopefully get a proper No More Heroes 3 going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed the first No More Heroes for Wii, but Travis Strikes Again does oversimplify the gameplay somewhat.. Yes, they’re both technically hack-and-slash(ish) games, but the original (and sequel) had so much style with every attack. It didn’t feel boring to fight, and the bosses felt like worthy finales for every segment. And for the first one particularly, the open city was a nice touch. I don’t think customers should have to buy TSA just for No More Heroes 3 to happen. But I will say this, I think Suda51 is really teasing that true next game. 🙂 Did you play the first two NMH games?

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  3. I am still not sure whether or not I am getting that one, but thanks for the informative and detailed review. The problems you related are pretty much in line with what I expected from the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome! I’m always happy to be able to inform to help you make or confirm decisions about games! I forget, but have you played the original Wii games? I definitely prefer them as defining games in the No More Heroes series. Travis Strikes Again is fun, but flawed and can get old real fast, not to mention it loses a bit of its identity in the transition from behind-the-shoulder to top-down perspective. Thanks again for sharing your awesome thoughts Matt!

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      1. You are very welcome as well!

        I did play the first two games on the Wii, and I liked them a lot, even if I thought both did have some repetitiveness to them. I guess that in Travis Strikes Again that problem is even more pronounced due to the fact it is a simpler game.

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      2. I feel like the Wii games mask the repetition better by just being ridiculously cool to play. Travis Strikes Again takes a simpler approach and loses some of that. But Suda51 seems to essentially be teasing No More Heroes 3 at this point, so hopefully that comes out for Switch sometime!

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  4. I missed the first time Travis struck, but this might be the closest thing we get to a Goemon game in 2019! I like the genre shifts, but it’s a shame they don’t do more with them. Still, saving on the toilet is a stroke of meta genius!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha it’s a good thing Travis kept striking then, just like Mewtwo! Oh man, I think we need to start a # days since last Goemon game. A Mystical Ninja game in 2019 would be insane, and for Goemon to be in Smash is still the ultimate dream. The genre shifts in Travis Strikes Again (almost called it Mewtwo Strikes Back) are neat, and I like the in-jokes and gameplay changes, but I do think it would have been neat to have wholly different mechanics per world. Though I do think the charm of No More Heroes is still the wild hacking and slashing, especially in the Wii games. Also yesssss, saving on the toilet is the best mechanic, and it needs to be implemented in way more games! Thanks for your great comments and support!

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