Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
|Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 4|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash|
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is an action-adventure hack and slash video game developed and published by Grasshopper Manufacture, which was released on January 18, 2019. Directed by Goichi "Suda51" Suda, the game is part of the No More Heroes franchise and features series protagonist Travis Touchdown fighting Badman, the father of Bad Girl, an assassin Travis previously killed. The two are drawn into a possessed video game console, and must fight through its various games. As the first title he has directed since the first No More Heroes, Suda has collaborated with several indie developers to feature elements from their games in Travis Strikes Again. While part of the No More Heroes series, Suda does not consider the game a direct sequel to the previous title No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, but a fresh start for the character Travis. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes received mixed reviews in contrast to its predecessors.
In a change for the series, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is played from a top-down perspective. As Travis, players are tasked with going through multiple video games and defeating the bugs in each game. The levels are inspired by various video game genres such as platforming games and role-playing games. Despite this, gameplay and combat itself predominantly plays out as a hack and slash similar to that of previous No More Heroes titles, occasionally undergoing perspective changes and introducing new gimmicks or minigames that are pertinent to the genre of each individual game. New to the series is the ability to equip "Skill Chips" (named after Gundam models) that allow the player to utilize an array of special attacks, ranging from a scattergun-type blast to an orbital laser. At the end of each game, the player faces against its residing boss. The game supports two-player co-op with single Joy-Con support, where the second player controls Badman.
Travis can return to his trailer at any time during game play, where the player can purchase new attire to wear, and access the "Death Drive MK-II", which hosts the video games the player will explore. From the trailer, the player can also access "Travis Strikes Back" - an adventure mode designed as a classic visual novel where Travis explores the real world in search for "Death Balls" that contain the Death Drive's video games.
Seven years after the events of No More Heroes 2, a former professional baseball player turned assassin named the Badman seeks revenge on Travis Touchdown for murdering his daughter, Bad Girl. Travis himself - now nearly middle aged and weary of the UAA's ranking matches - has since isolated himself and now lives in a camper in a forest in Texas, where he spends his time playing video games. When Badman tracks down Travis and attacks him, the two are transported into the demonic "Death Drive MK-II", a video game console created by Dr. Juvenile that was canceled during development. Travis is able to navigate the games within the Death Drive by using a Death Glove that he wears, allowing him to fight against Badman and other antagonists through six different games on the console. Travis and Badman race to defeat each boss character; the first that defeat all six games will be granted one wish.
Following the release of No More Heroes 2, Goichi Suda had been looking for an opportunity to continue the series, but became busy with other projects, such as his involvement with Let It Die. In mid-2016, as work on Let It Die was concluding, he was invited to one of Nintendo's pre-release developer meetings for the then-upcoming Nintendo Switch. While the console was different from the Wii, it offered similar motion-based features through the Joy-Con, and he recognized he could revive No More Heroes for the system. He felt the game would fit in well among the planned Switch titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.
Suda considered the No More Heroes series as "fun slash 'em up kind of games", but with Travis Strikes Again, he wanted to play around with the history of video games and the idea of retro games, and "how Travis would interact with the individual rules and the individual vibe from each game". The six games are new games developed for the title, some in homages to existing indie games, with at least one being a vector scan game. When originally announced, some took Suda's comments to reflect that the levels would be set within actual indie games like Hotline Miami and Shovel Knight, but Suda later clarified that these games would be featured as "T-shirt collaborations", with Travis able to unlock and wear clothing items that promote these indie games, a concept he came up with while seeing various game expositions like PAX West. One such title is Hyper Light Drifter, with Nintendo of America showcasing Travis's shirt alongside announcing the game's release on the Switch. Suda wanted players to see Travis as a fan of indie games, not only to give recognition to the indie game scene, but due to his belief that Grasshopper is similar to an indie developer, and he wanted to show his support of the up-and-coming smaller studios. He estimated that there will be at least 15 indie games represented in Travis Strikes Again, with titles to be revealed as part of the ongoing promotion. The idea of crossing between games was partially influenced by the film Existenz. UK artist Boneface will be contributing designs for the game's boss battles.
There will also be sections of the game that use the standard gameplay approach as the other No More Heroes titles. One goal of the game for Suda was to have it be completely playable on a single Joy-Con controller for the Nintendo Switch version, simplifying the controls compared to the second game. Reporters from Eurogamer and Polygon have taken Suda's comments that the game may support multiplayer, since the Switch supports two Joy-Con. Suda was unable to speak on this under confidentiality at PAX West, but did tell reporters who asked about this that there are "two main characters, so draw your own conclusions, if you want".
The game is being developed in Unreal Engine 4. At the time of reveal, Robin Atkin Downes, the voice of Travis in the previous titles, had reportedly not been asked to reprise his role in Travis Strikes Again. He was later confirmed to be returning to the role in December 2018.
Travis Strikes Again was teased during the January 2017 reveal conference of the Nintendo Switch. Suda was present for the live event, and appeared on stage to show a promotional image of Travis Touchdown wearing a shirt that said "Travis Strikes Again"; however, no mention of the No More Heroes series was made. Suda said in a later interview that this was a purposeful choice, as he wanted the tease to feature Travis himself as the central focus. The game was formally announced as Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes in an August 2017 Nintendo Direct, along with further reveals at the PAX West event a few days later. Suda noted that the title's ordering, placing the series' name after Travis Strikes Again, was to allude to the fact he does not consider this game a direct sequel but instead "the beginning of a new adventure, of a new series for Travis" but that still otherwise takes place in the No More Heroes universe. Suda also stated that Travis Strikes Again serves as "something of a stepping stone on the road to No More Heroes 3", and hopes to make a true sequel if the game proves successful enough.
On November 14, 2018, Grasshopper Manufacture announced that Travis Strikes Again would receive a physical edition which would be distributed by Nintendo. The physical version of the game is also bundled with a season pass. The developers have confirmed that some of the additional content will include a new playable character, a new scenario, and a new stage. The first DLC pack was later confirmed to include a scenario for Badman, as well as series-recurring character Shinobu Jacobs as a playable character, while the second pack includes a new scenario for Travis, a new stage for the game Killer Marathon, and Bad Girl from No More Heroes as a playable character. Grasshopper further confirmed that Robin Atkin Downes would be returning in the role as Travis, and that Steve Blum had been cast as Badman. Kimberly Brooks and Kathryn Fiore were confirmed to return in the roles of Shinobu Jacobs and Bad Girl respectively, while Greg Ellis was cast to play a new boss character, Brian Buster Jr.
Several reviewers for Famitsu noted that the concept of switching between different "games" was a unique approach that offered the game a constantly refreshing sense of presentation, praising the game's ability to make the player want to keep playing in order to find out what happens next. The visuals and combat of the game were also praised for their explosive style and satisfying feedback, though a few reviewers felt that at times the combat could end up being a bit of a grind.
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- Official website (in Japanese)