Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is zany, over-the-top, and most importantly, a blast to play. I’ll be honest, back when the game was first revealed, I was a bit disappointed to find out that Travis Strikes Again was a spin-off title that wouldn’t feature the third-person hack and slash gameplay of previous game in the series. As a huge fan of the franchise, I’ve been eager to murder more assassins in traditional No More Heroes fashion after completing No More Heroes 2 back in 2010. Luckily, Travis Strikes Again offers more intricate combat than the mainline titles and gives us the opportunity to see more of our beloved Travis Touchdown as he makes his way through six deadly video games.
Travis Strikes Again‘s art style and overall presentation is somehow ugly, beautiful, and punk-rock all at the same time. While jumping between six video games, Travis Strikes Again is all over the place with its looks and style. From live-action segments and cel-shaded Tron-inspired graphics to scene transitions inspired by 80’s television. I was never bored with the scenery, as the game is always throwing new things your way. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of polished cutscenes similar to previous entries. There are no cutscenes aside from the opening cinematic, which a slightly altered version of the reveal trailer. You can obviously tell the game was developed on a small budget. Hell, it even pokes fun at that in the dialogue.
Hack and slash and.. visual novel?
Speaking of breaking the fourth wall, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes does it a lot. The game is totally aware of just how ridiculous it is, and the developers weren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves, other game series, and pop-culture in general. The game’s writing is really funny and it constantly had me grinning. Surprisingly, Travis Strikes Again also features a visual novel portion that follows Travis as he collects all six Dragon Ba-erm, I mean, Death Balls in order to get a wish granted (yeah I know, sounds very familiar). This section was a great change of pace after completing adrenaline-pumping levels. Funny exchanges between characters occur with only text and very little happening on screen, so it’s pretty much your imagination doing all the work. Visual novels aren’t my bag, but Grasshoper’s writing was funny and intriguing enough to keep me engaged.
A nice addition to Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is the campground. This area is where you can recoup, purchase new indie game T-shirts, check your collectibles, and replay previously completed video games. Rocking my favorite indie game shirts as I slew baddies was pretty sweet. Too bad the camera is so far most of the time that you can’t even see the shirts your sporting. Honestly, I wish there were some alternative that let you play in traditional third-person, even if it did make the combat harder. I would have preferred it. I know, woe is me.
Speaking of combat, it’s still a blast. Throughout the game, you’ll collect new abilities that you can set to the four face-buttons. This lets you customize the gameplay around your play-style. You can use an assortment of special abilities and swap them out at any time. My personal favorite was the sticky bomb, especially on bosses. Oh yes, how could I forget the bosses? While the writing and backstory behind these wacky characters were pretty entertaining, the actual battles were disappointing. Once you learn their attacks it’s pretty easy to defeat them. Some would change forms but the fight would remain largely the same. This is, again, is where I think the game feels like a low-budget project. As a series that’s known for having epic one-on-one fights, I was expecting some better boss battles.
Even after being hindered by a small development budget, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes still impresses in the end. It’s the bat-s**t crazy story and characters you can expect from a No More Heroes game, along with the best gameplay the series has seen thus far. My hope that the next mainline installment learns a thing or two from Travis Strikes Again in the combat department.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
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