When Goichi “Suda 51” Suda announced that the No More Heroes franchise would be making a return on the Nintendo Switch earlier this year, fans were elated, looking forward to the latest adventure of Travis Touchdown, an attitude-laden bounty hunter who thrives on using his lightsaber-style weapon, the Beam Katana, against his adversaries.
But before you go expecting No More Heroes 3, keep in mind that Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes doesn’t quite take the route the first two games did. Granted, it’s still a lot of fun, and features the kind of comical attitude you’ve come to expect from Suda 51’s games over the years, but it’s structured a little bit differently, as Travis has to make his way through a series of video games, all while hunting down the folks responsible for putting him there.
For the demo that was presented at PAX East this past weekend, we got to romp through the Electric Thunder Tiger II stage, which pits Travis and his secondary no-name friend Badman (in case you want to do two-player) against a plethora of foes within a glitching world. This is just one of the types of games that will be offered in Travis Strikes Again, as future levels will be based on various genres, although we don’t have the full list just yet.
Still, the Electric Thunder Tiger II stage holds a lot of promise. In it, Travis, along with his buddy, has to make his way through a top-down-style scrolling world, taking on adversaries as they come popping out of the woodwork. These include thugs that can be taken down with a few hits, along with additional enemies that can throw projectiles at him and Badman.
The controls are pretty solid, as you can hack away at most foes with general sword strikes, as well as a stronger strike-down move that clears a certain area around Travis. He can also use special abilities, although they take a while to charge up again, so make sure you use these sparingly. These include an area-engulfing attack that also protects our main character, as well as more devastating sword techniques.
Oh, and just like in the previous No More Heroes games, you have to charge your weapon once it runs out of energy. But this is easy. You simply hold down the left control stick, and then shake your game system or the controller or JoyCon controller you’re using. Within a few hilarious shakes, you’re back in business, and ready to strike down your adversaries.
And before you ask, yes, the game allows you to save by pulling up to a toilet, dropping trousers and doing your business. We only saw one save point in the demo, but we know fans that will be thrilled that you’ll be able to do this. Gotta stick with the stuff that worked in previous games, right?
Moving on from battling a few different enemies and picking up coins (which can be used to purchase secondary items and power-ups) and ramen (which helps give you a boost of energy before the final fight), you enter into a boss battle with an electrical dude that will stop at nothing to shut you down.
Now, here’s where some of the comical writing comes in, as his taunts are nothing short of hilarious. It’s obvious Suda 51 and company custom wrote these for the show (they talk about PAX East and how the battle will continue at a European show down the road, like Gamescom). But after a quick discussion, the battle begins.
The first portion of the fight involves you dodging electrical attacks while striking away at this adversary, and taking on any secondary opponents that pop up. Once you chop down his energy enough, he soon flees and begins to shoot energy from the outside. The only way to stop him here is by destroying the four power generators on certain points of the map, while, again, dealing with other thugs. You also have to watch out for charges that appear on the floor, lest you take a hit on your energy.
Following that battle, the demo came to a close. But it left me wanting more, especially with the frivolous energy and inspired design that went into the first level of Travis Strikes Again. The artwork is stunningly beautiful, similar in nature to the previous games, even if it’s presented differently than before. The animations are sharp, and the glitch effects in Electric Thunder Tiger II are novel and original. I liked the dialogue and music too, as it was definitely up the alley of the usual No More Heroes game.
But perhaps the most enjoyable factor is being able to play alongside a friend. The game supports two-player play with controllers or JoyCons, so they can jump in. There’s no word yet if this will be the case for the entire game, but we don’t see why not.
So with the inspired design, fun gameplay and two-player option, Travis Strikes Again could easily be the most accessible – and enjoyable – game in the No More Heroesseries to date. We still have yet to play through the rest of it, but it sounds like Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture are hitting all the right notes this time around, keeping things familiar enough, yet throwing in something new.
We’ll see how the final game fares when Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes arrives later this year for Nintendo Switch.