Review – Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes

There are many different strategies a developer/publisher can adopt in order to try to get a dormant franchise back to the spotlight. You can release a remaster of an older title in order to increase the overall awareness of the franchise, just like Capcom is doing at the moment with Onimusha. You can ignore the fact nobody has been asking for a new entry in a franchise and release a game anyway, like Bubsy. You can jump on the bandwagon after someone else has failed to release a spiritual successor to one of your dormant games, like Capcom did with Mega Man (clever minxes). Finally, you can adopt the least exciting of strategies: release a low-budget, smaller spinoff of a dormant franchise and see if this often lazy game is enough to garner enough attention for a proper follow-up. Square Enix did that with Fear Effect and so did Grasshopper Manufacture with the brand new Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes

nmh2

Looks lovely, right?

Travis Strikes Again isn’t a true sequel to the fan-favorite No More Heroes franchise. This game doesn’t feature the same motion-based controls as its predecessors, nor does it feature the same stylish visuals or open-world structure. The best way to describe this game is calling it a lazy hack and slash spinoff that tries to entice players by shoving tons of self-referential humor and nods to current indie hits in order to hide how average its gameplay actually is.

The premise for Travis Strikes Again is that our titular Johnny Knoxville-wannabe hero is exploring a handful of worlds set inside the games available on a cursed video game console. Each game acts as a level that lasts for an hour or so. With the exception of one level based around racing, all of the other levels featured lazy designs and repetitive enviroments.

nmh3

Not for this game, they won’t.

All you need to do is keep walking until the game locks you inside an arena full of enemies, then make sure that they all die. Travis’ trustworthy lightsaber is back, but instead of the motion-based controls featured in previous installments, the combat is relegated to a very simple arcade-esque layout. I can’t even call it a button-masher, since you don’t need to mash buttons; all you need to do is hold down the attack button and Travis will keep on flailing his sword around like a lunatic until you run out of juice. You can restore your sword’s energy by wiggling the controller a few times. Strong attacks and special moves are also available, but they’re only really useful to attack bigger enemies or large groups. There are no combos to speak of, just mindless flailing.

nmh4

The indie game shirts are cool, but you will barely be able to look at them during the main game.

That’s the main issue I have with Travis Strikes Again. The overall gameplay is as shallow as a puddle. Yes, the controls are simple and intuitive, and you can even play the entire game with only one joycon (co-op is included), but its gameplay loop is very repetitive. Keep killing enemies with little fanfare until you reach a midboss (a different color variation of the same goat mutant), then keep on doing the same until you reach the proper boss. There aren’t many stakes or any buildup involved, as the overall presentation is rather poor, and that’s bizarre for a Suda51 game. Same can be said about the charm and that’s also really bizarre for a Suda51 game.

Travis Strikes Again‘s visuals and sound department are average at best. The art style is the same from the Wii-era games (games released more than ten years ago, may I add) and are charming enough whenever Travis is close to the camera, which is rare. The vast majority of the game’s camera angles make Travis look so small that you can sometimes forget where he is onscreen. The environments look very bland and repetitive, which only add insult to injury.

nmh5

You may have done it first (except you didn’t), but he did it better.

One of the worst things about the fact Travis is so small onscreen is that you won’t even be able to notice the shirts he wears. Travis Strikes Again features a truckload of shirts paying homage to pretty much all of the big independent games of today, such as The Messenger, Undertale, Hollow Knight, and many more. Even Hatoful Boyfriend makes an appearance, weirdly enough. The fact the game tries constantly pays homage to indies, as well as the fact it tries to reference Devolver Digital whenever possible, makes it look like Suda51 was desperate for the publisher to actually release the game and include the No More Heroes series in its pantheon of self-referential ultraviolent franchises like Shadow Warrior and Serious Sam.

Travis Strikes Again reminded me a lot of the Deadpool game released a few years ago. Both are hack and slash games relying on a ton of self-referential humor and repetitive combat. The difference between both games is that Deadpool was consistently funny from start to finish, making me want to go through the repetitive combat sections in order to be rewarded with a hilarious cutscene. Travis Strikes Again doesn’t have that. There are no cutscenes, there are just walls of text in between levels. There is almost no proper voice acting, just a handful of sound effects trying to recreate the voice clips from Banjo-Kazooie and Yooka-Laylee, only ten times more annoying. The humor doesn’t always hit the mark as well. The references are either too obvious or the jokes aren’t just as funny, with the exception of a few nods to Suda51’s The 25th Ward every now and then.

nmh6

Can you find Travis onscreen?

Travis Strikes Again isn’t exactly a bad game, but to wait for a new game in the No More Heroes franchise for a decade and get this as a result is, at the very least, a major disappointment. This is a game lacking in charm and substance, a comedy title that very rarely made me laugh, and a Suda51 game that didn’t wow me at all in the style department. If you have enough discount credit on your eShop, then go for it. At the very least, you can make Travis fight enemies while wearing a Hatoful Boyfriend t-shirt. I think that’s the closest to making me laugh that this game’s metahumor managed to provide.

 

Graphics: 6.0

Whenever Travis is close to the camera, the game almost resembles the excellent visual style from its predecessors. Sadly, the majority of the game is comprised of low-effort visuals and terribly designed levels.

Gameplay: 7.0

While the controls are simple and intuitive, and you can even play the game in its entirety with just one joycon, the combat system is dull and repetitive. There’s no strategy in here, just hold the attack button until you beat the game.

Sound: 5.5

Whenever there’s voice acting, the game shines. Sadly, there’s almost no voice acting in here. The rest of the game’s sound department is comprised of repetitive and uninspired tunes and annoying sound effects.

Fun Factor: 6.0

The nods to independent games were enough to make me smile for a few seconds, but all in all Travis Strikes Again is as shallow as a puddle, featuring a repetitive gameplay loop and fourth-wall breaking humor that almost always misses the mark.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

Advertisements