After causing a stir on the Nintendo Switch earlier this year, Travis Touchdown has made his return to a PlayStation console in the form of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes – Complete Edition – a frantic adventure that itself is inspired by video games. It comes with all previously released DLC too, making it the definitive version of the game for those playing for the first time.
The No More Heroes series has never taken itself seriously, but Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes goes even sillier by focusing on a legendary video game console in the game’s universe. This console is known as the Death Drive Mk II (be honest, you would’ve loved one as a kid) and it has gotten into the hands of a villain. This wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t have one terrifying feature: ALWAYS ONLINE… I mean, it sucks players into each game world. Of course, Travis gets sucked into this console alongside Badman (an assassin hunting him down), so they must both work together if they’re going to survive.
The narrative pokes fun at gaming throughout with plenty of different references, whilst it isn’t shy in breaking the fourth wall either – it’s charming in-game though and never feels too on the nose or cringey. The references to other games are particularly neat because they give little nudges to both retro video games and modern indie releases, with Travis actually able to equip t-shirts that have logos of a bunch of current hits. Sometimes, self-aware video games can miss the mark as far as humour is concerned, but Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes hits the nail on the head throughout.
Whilst the premise itself is quirky and charming though, the gameplay itself does nothing too special. You’ll work through a series of levels based on video games and slice-and-dice through foes with Travis’ trusty beam katana, but combos are made up of basic light and heavy attacks that don’t do much to excite. You can equip skill chips that allow you to unleash special attacks, but again, they don’t really add all that much excitement to the formula. It just felt like all I was doing was button-mashing throughout, for better and worse.
At least each level tries to do something different though, with them offering different takes on video games that feature plenty of tropes that’ll be familiar to most gamers. Whilst combat feels the same throughout, the different gameplay mechanics that are introduced ensure you won’t grow bored as you work through each of the Death Drive Mk II’s six video games.
All of the previously released DLC is available in the PlayStation 4 package, so gamers will have access to both the Bubblegum Fatale and Black Dandelion packs. These add additional characters with new skills and a quirky pinball-themed level to play through, so they’re definitely worth checking out. There’s also an additional story segment for players to get through which offer throwbacks to game director Suda51’s previous releases – seeing a nod to Shadow of the Damned certainly brought a smile to my face since it was one of my favourite games last-gen, so fans of the developer will want to check all of these out.
Those who prefer to play with a friend will enjoy the local multiplayer, which allows you to work through the main game together in co-operative action. Much like the single player component, there’s not a whole lot of strategy needed to play as a team and it can easily fall into mindless button-mashing territory quickly, but going through with a buddy is certainly a fun way to experience Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes’ zany escapade.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes has a great premise and I found myself constantly smiling at the off-the-wall narrative and all of its video game references – it’s just a shame that the gameplay itself doesn’t have the same excitement, with it feeling more like a button-masher than anything else.
It’s certainly not a bad game though and it’s as stylish as the previous games in the series, so those itching for more anarchic action with Travis Touchdown will be pleased. Let’s just hope that the inevitable No More Heroes 3 adds a bit more variety to its action…
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Marvelous Europe
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC