Originally released earlier this year on Nintendo Switch, TRAVIS STRIKES AGAIN: NO MORE HEROES is a spin-off of Suda51’s No More Heroes series. Trading in its behind-the-back character action for a more simplified top-down beat ’em up system, the game received a mild response upon announcement due to players wanting No More Heroes 3 instead. Now releasing on additional systems with its DLC in tow with No More Heroes 3 having been properly announced, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition gives the divisive title a chance to be appreciated for what it is by a new audience. This is a good thing since it has a lot to offer long-time fans of Suda51 and is full of plenty of worthwhile surprises.
As this is a spin-off, players shouldn’t expect this to be like past No More Heroes games. In fact, there’s not much assassinating to be done in Travis Strikes Again, and most of it occurs during visual novel scenes where the player doesn’t have any input. Instead, it focuses on one of Travis Touchdown’s favorite leisurely activities: gaming. The dangerous otaku has gotten his hands on a legendary unreleased game console called the Death Drive Mk II, a device so ahead of its time that it literally transports the players into their game worlds. However, only a handful of games were planned for the system, let alone in a playable state, so it’s up to Touchdown to track down all of them to complete his collection. Plus, there’s an urban legend that whoever can complete all six Death Drive games can get a wish of theirs granted.
As the games were never truly finished, each of the six Death Drive game features plenty of bugs that Travis will have to fight along the way. Armed with his beam katana, players will quickly slash through the initial waves of foes as they offer up little in terms of a challenge. However, different enemy variants are introduced later in the game and it becomes a much more tactical affair. Touchdown, and the other playable character, Badman, both have access to a number of skill chips that allow them to unleash special attacks on a cooldown and using these thoughtfully is a key to getting through the different levels. The core action is never all that thrilling, as it is a pretty simple top-down action game, but the different games do a solid job of dressing up the combat. Sometimes you’re having to rearrange city landscapes, while other titles have you fighting for motorcycle parts that are then used in drag races, so there’s a decent amount of variation even if the core gameplay stays the same.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition Review | A celebration of gaming’s best and worst
As this is literally a game about playing other video games, you can expect a lot of fourth wall breaking within Travis Strikes Again. In fact, he proudly wears an Unreal Engine 4 T-shirt by default and players can unlock other video game-based shirts (most of which are Devolver Digital-published indie titles) for him by using two different in-game currencies. In many ways, this is Suda51’s ode to indie and retro gaming as it showcases what he can do on a smaller scale. The overarching story also shows off a lot of struggles that game developers face including crunch and dysfunctional development teams and provides a lot of commentary on development itself.
The story is wonderfully eccentric from beginning to end, but its after credits teaser is perhaps the most exciting aspect of the entire experience. Players get to suddenly see a familiar camera angle as the perspective shifts from above to behind Touchdown’s back. The player can roam around a small, white room with a dummy enemy located in it, but once they approach him to attack they’ll get a message saying that the game is clearly still in development and not ready to be played yet. It’s a cute tease for No More Heroes 3, and a fitting recap of what Travis Strikes Again is: an enjoyable side story that is absolutely not the third chapter in the game even if it has some very important story moments.
Since this is the Complete Edition, players have access to the two DLC packs that released on Switch: Black Dandelion and Bubblegum Fatale. Both of these unlock after completing the game, adding two playable characters (Badgirl and Shinobu Jacobs) and a new stage. Sadly, the DLC is a bit underwhelming as the two characters play a lot like Badman and Touchdown but with a few exclusive skill chips. They even require the player to recharge their weapons as if they were playing as Touchdown, although this can thankfully be done by using the right analog stick rather than making a jerk off motion like in the original Wii games. The pinball-themed DLC stage is also the weakest of all the game worlds due to its annoying time limit.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition Review | Veteran fans will get the most out of it
Since this is a side-story rather than a main entry, Suda51 took full advantage of this by tying in the game world to plenty of his other games. The story frequently mentions, and features appearances by, characters from The Silver Case and its sequel The 25th Ward. These references will likely breeze by those that haven’t played the adventures games, but these familiar faces add a lot of depth and gravitas to the story. It also gives The 25th Ward a true ending, as it follows the path of one of its over 100 endings. These aren’t the only Suda51 games to be referenced as one of the coolest levels in Travis Strikes Again is a full-on sequel to his third-person shooter Shadow of the Damned that also sets up another possible entry in that universe.
If you’re a fan of Suda51’s past games, then there is so much to appreciate in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. However, if you’re expecting simply more No More Heroes gameplay, then you might be disappointed. It’s a weird title in that it subverts expectations of long-time fans while also rewarding them throughout its experimental story. Ultimately, the Complete Edition is the best way to experience this spin-off, as it is a solid game in its own right and serves as an excellent, if different, primer for No More Heroes 3.
GameRevolution reviewed Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition on PS4 with a copy provided by the publisher.