When it comes to Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda51 we never quite know what to expect. Sure, some of their games have been down to Earth but others are so off the wall and unique that fans can’t help but love them. One of these happened to be a story about a certain otaku turned assassin by the name of Travis Touchdown and while we haven’t seen much of Travis over the years but after a return earlier this year on the Switch, he has arrived on the PlayStation 4 with Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition. Designed as a bit of a different designed fairly differently compared to its previous entries, is this more experimental take on Travis’ story worthwhile?
Seven years after the events of No More Heroes 2, Travis Touchdown spends his time in a trailer down in Texas where he kills time playing video games and eating poorly but that all comes to an end when another assassin comes seeking revenge. Badman, the father of Bad Girl who Travis killed in the first game, has managed to find Travis and is out for vengeance but just as the two are battling it out a strange video game console called the Death Drive Mk II powers on and sucks both fighters into the virtual world.
Shocked at what has happened, the pair learn that this strange and mysterious console has only ever had a few games developed for it and with Badman already holding one of these games in the form of a Death Ball, the pair have a chance to complete the console’s ultimate goal, finish every game and be granted one wish of their choosing. With such a goal in mind, Travis and Badman team up to try and find every one of these Death Balls and complete the strange games that they contain.
Fans of Suda-51’s games and even those who have only played the No More Heroes games before already have some idea of what to expect when it comes to Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition‘s brand of humor and it is certainly cranked up to the maximum here. Numerous fourth wall breaking jokes are made within the first few minutes of the game and continue to run throughout alongside tons of pop-culture references and even little bonuses that fans of older Grasshopper Manufacture games will notice. This style of humor works fairly well but what is a bit odd is the way the game chooses to portray most of the game’s storyline. Rather than unfold through standard gameplay in levels, the story is almost entirely told through visual novel like story sequences that can run quite long.
There are even a few jokes about how long winded some game’s can be but when a story sequence focusing entirely on text drags on, it ends up hurting the game as a whole, this is especially true for those who may not be familiar with this style of storytelling as well. Thankfully this release does feature a bit of extra content once the game is completed as there are additional bits of story that feature both the returning Shinobu as well as Bad Girl herself. Accessing these segments requires the core game to be completed first but they work as a nice little bonus once the core game is completed, even if that may end up feeling like a bit of a chore at times.
With Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition focusing on Travis and Badman traveling through a number of different games players will find that each game has a little something different to ask from them in terms of gameplay. For the most part nearly every one utilizes a fairly standard combat system that sees Travis utilizing only his standard beam katana, complete with simple recharging mechanic, or Badman’s bat with light and heavy attacks that can be strung together in a combo. These moves are fairly standard but there is some option for customization as the game includes a new modifier called Skill Chips.
Skill Chips can be equipped to any of the face buttons and, when pressed in combination with L1, unleash a special skill related to that chip. These moves can be swapped out at any time through the main menu so players can change their move-set on the fly should the need arise. Unfortunately should players choose to play the game in co-op, a Skill Chip can only be equipped to one character at a time. Players will find that the game offers full support for local co-op play which is a blast, especially since the second player does gain some advantages, but unfortunately no online co-op is available, which is disappointing.
Even with Skill Chips offering some form of variety, and the fact that the game does feature completely different worlds depending on what Death Ball game Travis is currently in, things quickly become rather stale and repetitive. Outside of a few sequences, that carry their own annoying problems with the only great one being far too short, most of the game’s systems boil down to simply swinging away at countless enemy “bugs” that have appeared in these games. Combine this with the fact that the enemies themselves rarely feel threatening, with even bosses feeling slightly stronger, to the point that players will want to play on a harder difficulty so things feel at least a little challenging and might require a little actual strategy.
Outside of combat and the games players will find that there are plenty of random little oddities to enjoy in the real world as Travis can look around his camp, purchase little t-shirts for both himself and Badman to wear, looking at ramen recipes, and other random things including the signature toilet save system. As mentioned before players will also have the option to play as either, or both in co-op, Shinobu and Bad Girl once the core storyline has been completed and these characters even have some unique text when going through core levels, though be prepared for their fighting styles to really be the only unique thing to them as the standard gameplay remains a slog.
Visuals & Audio
As the game quickly points out through its first fourth wall breaking joke, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition utilizes Unreal Engine 4 and for the most part the signature art style translates well into this engine. Character models for the core cast and the boss enemies are well designed and the designs for each of the in-game worlds offer plenty of great window dressings to the simple action though be prepared for most of the game to be presented in 4:3 format to mimic old-school CRT televisions. Oddly enough, despite being released on the PlayStation 4 after first releasing on the Nintendo Switch the game still suffers from slowdown at various points in the game, especially when multiple enemies are on screen.
It appears that most of the returning characters in the game have reprised their English voice actors which is a nice boon for fans of the series though players shouldn’t expect too much dialogue in story sequences as the lengthier visual novel scenes are not voiced. One thing that fans will appreciate is that the game utilizes a number of familiar songs from the series so far in a more simplistic format to better fit the themes of the game and this is especially true for the bonus post-game content.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition features all of the signature humor and quirks that fans of Suda51’s games have come to expect and this release does feature Shinobu and Bad Girl’s post-game content but the game’s fairly generic combat quickly becomes repetitive despite the numerous changes in scenery and style. This, plus a feeling that some segments feel padded, hinder what could have been Travis’ great return but instead leaves us with only a solid sampling to hold us over until the next full game in his story.
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