Wait, this isnt No More Heroes 3?
No, it never was, that game will come eventually, and frankly I am so glad that this one exists right now.
What is Travis Strikes Again?
A spin off entry in Grasshopper Manufactures No More Heroes series for the Nintendo Switch, and more importantly it is Suda 51s full return to the directors chair on a game since No More Heroes 1. The story behind this games existence came from Sudas desire to return to his roots back when he started Grasshopper in 1999, when he had a small, close knit team he could work with and easily share his vision with. You see, after the surprise success of No More Heroes 1, the companys size ended up growing due to the increased notoriety of Sudas style, but he never ended up back in full directorial control of the multiple projects that Grasshopper got started on. No More Heroes 2 was only co written by him, Shadows of the Damned had a lengthy history of executive meddling from EA, and so on and so forth. In short, Suda's name being in the credits or even marketting no longer became a guarantee that you were going to get a game that fully embodied his sense of style, not just in aesthetic but actual game design.
Now 20 years since the formation of Grasshopper Manufacture, Suda is back in the directors chair, and by god this game could not have been a more perfect return for him. Forget No More Heroes 3, this title succeeds on it being so different while playing with the characters and world of a franchise that a good amount of people already have familiarity with. A by the numbers 3rd NMH, even fully written and directed by Suda, would not have the same impact as this game does here. In fact, as youll see by the end of this journey, you can probably see how a No More Heroes 3 will likely be EVEN BETTER than it couldve been if it had just stuck to expectations of fans and what they think they want.
But is it LIKE No More Heroes? I still dont know what the hell it is.
Okay, admittedly this game didnt make it entirely clear from trailers exactly what its supposed to be, but now that its been out, and Ive played through it I can tell you. Travis Strikes Again is a top down hack and slash game where Travis Touchdown, retired assassin from Santa Destroy, gets sucked into the world of video games alongside Badman, the father of #2 UAA ranked assassin Badgirl. Within the demonic unreleased game console known as the Death Drive Mk. II, both characters must fight through six different video games and in doing so the console will grant any wish to the ones who complete this task. Sounds simple. Simple like No More Heroes was at the beginning. Of course, its anything but that.
So even as you go through these games and they introduce different concepts, these are not total 100% genre shifts. The core gameplay of hacking and slashing remains the same. Its not directly analogous to classic No More Heroes gameplay, but it introduces new mechanics to the series that actually makes it slightly more in depth than what the first two games had. The game can even be played in local co-op with the controls being simple enough that each character can be controlled with one joy con if need be. However, the Death Drive games arent all there is to it. The player can still hang out in Travis abode in between levels (a trailer in the middle of the woods this time, instead of the No More Heroes motel), buy T-shirts off the internet emblazoned with familiar indie titles, and more importantly, access a completely different game within Travis Strikes Again called...Travis Strikes Back. An old school styled visual novel that serves as a means to show how Travis acquires each Death Drive game, and further expand the world in which Travis lives in since, quite frankly, its been ages since weve heard anything about whats gone on in Travis real life after the events of NMH 2. Its a treat not just for fans of No More Heroes, but also fans of Sudas past work.
Theres a surprising amount of stuff packed into this game, and much like in other Suda directed games, theres a lot of subtext and metaphor to unpack that reveals more than what the game initially seems to give. Its a wild ride. Its a new beginning for Travis Touchdown. And more importantly, its a new beginning for Suda 51 himself.
The Format of this LP?
The game will be played through on Bitter difficulty on New Game Plus, the reason for this is because while there are a lot of collectibles in each level that you could go and look for, the one major problem that has to be stated about this game is that a lot of the Death Drive games overstay their welcome. By a lot. Id much prefer to trim down on these videos where it is possible while still showing enough that you can get the gist of what the overall game is like. All without having to scour for every single collectible or get everyone leveled up to max. But on the plus side, I'll be adding supplementary material with each update that revolves around one of the Death Drive games, which includes in game magazine articles, faxes from a mysterious contact, and a ramen blog that will probably make you about as hungry as I was when putting all this shit together.
Also, while Ive not necessarily felt the need to do this much for any of the other LPs I've done, I will ask that you DO NOT spoil anything about the game until the LP actually reaches those points. This game has loads of surprises that deserve to be seen when they happen.