Suda 51 is one of those personas in the gaming world that most people know of. Personally, I’m not that invested in that many individuals in the gaming world, except for Hideo Kojima, Tim Schafer and of course, Suda 51, creator of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition.
Don’t worry, this isn’t an essay on the works of Suda 51, but if you’re familiar with his portfolio (Lolipop Chainsaw, Killer7…) then you know what to expect from Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition – a highly visualised experience, with many nods at pop culture and breaking the fourth wall. This game is no different; it grabs you by the genitalia, take your pick, and bombards you with a visual treat in the opening sequence. If the franchise is new to you, don’t panic as Travis Touchdown, the original protagonist is re-introduced for you, so there’s no real need for exposition.
You’re thrown into the action after a couple of cutscenes where you are an avatar within a game. It’s not like Inception or anything as it is clear you are an uber gamer and infiltrate a catalogue of games, clearing out the bugs, mid-bosses and the final boss of each game. At first, I had no idea why I was playing a game called Electric Thunder Tiger when I had just been attacked by a masked maniac in my trailer, looking for justice for the death of his daughter. The game people, not in real life. Briefly, this chap with the baseball bat, Badman, comes for revenge. He’s armed with a death ball which fuses with a console in Travis’ trailer called the Death Drive MK II and draws both characters into the games.
Within the first game, you can play either Travis or Badman (I would have preferred Batman) and bash bugs with either a beam katana or baseball bat. These bugs are mostly humanoids, wearing mocap suits, but are pretty much the same all the way through the game. This isn’t an RPG so no need to engage in conversation, simply hit them with a standard attack using square, or heavy attack with triangle. There are a few other moves thrown into the mix such as jumping and hitting, dodge with circle and special skill moves where you hold L1 combined with one of the four main buttons. Additionally, press R1 to supercharge your katana for a harder hit and a dash attack. Your beam katana drains with usage, so there is a need to frequently charge it by shaking the controller or a button combo. This took a while to get used to, and I wasn’t a fan. It was a better mechanic on the Wii.
Combat is quite consistent throughout Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition. Later, you can unlock chips that offer a new skill such as regenerating health, throwing a sticky bomb to enemies and another dash attack. They are practically infinite but do feature a cooldown so you can’t spam said skill. Each level is represented by a game, in turn, a cheeky nod at classic games. I think you whippersnappers call it ‘retrogaming’. The structure of each level has a different mechanic, but it does resort back to the combat system, which is very repetitive, and this is quite possibly the downfall of the game as it could potentially deter quite a few gamers. Enemies are pretty much the same, and it makes the Dynasty Warriors series seem quite fresh. It didn’t bother me that much, but there were a few times that I was trying to speed through the gameplay just to unlock the many goodies, including cutscenes.
That may defeat the purpose of a game. Like a film, you’re not likely to skip to the credits or avoid the movie and just watch the extras. However, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition is such an experience, it warrants a playthrough just to see all the pop culture references and dare I say, Easter eggs throughout. This isn’t enough to carry a game, but in all honesty, I found myself intensively playing as the new games/scenes/content was a reward in itself. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition is a game for geeks or otaku. A lot of self-proclaimed otaku say that this is a cool term, but not really. That said, Travis is a pretty call character with some excellent dialogue.
Travis and Badman seemingly join forces to defeat a common enemy. Subsequently, they’re all snug in their little hideout in the woods, which is effectively your place to save your game and view unlocked goodies. Before continuing, I have to mention that the save points are the crapper. It’s a standard toilet at the hideout, but a portaloo in-game. Travis doesn’t just take a slash, he drops trow every time. That guy is lucky to have any bones left. Anyhoo, your hideout features a computer to buy new t-shirts, read faxes, rate ramen and play the Death Drive MK II, a.k.a. level selection. T-shirts are purely visual. In-game are coins to collect that you can use to purchase new t-shirts to make either player look, erm.. cool. The choices are pretty cool, paying homage to indie games like Dead Cells, Thumber and one of my favourites, The Red Strings Club. Not all of them can be bought with coins as you need to collect Azteca stones.
More importantly, to progress in the game means moving on to a new level. This isn’t an automatic process as you need to watch the visual novel Travis Strikes Back. You access this via your motorbike, and it’s merely a dialogue sequence telling the story. At the end of each sequence, you unlock a death ball, consequently a new playable level. What surprised me was that while the visual novel isn’t interactive other than skipping through the dialogue, it’s definitely worth reading through as yet again, it’s witty dialogue and yet again breaks down the fourth wall, making references to cult movie directors, the Suda51 universe and a jab at Deadpool. There are even references to game reviewers and meta scores. All very self-aware, all very funny and enjoyable.
Travis Strikes Again is really for nostalgic gamers, and kind of a tribute to classic games and also newer indie games. The main gameplay is essentially an indie type game. If it was stripped down without the characters, dialogue and extras, this might be overlooked as the focal point of the gameplay is combat and it’s just so… meh. In fact, I’d go as far and say that at times it was a chore to play. A large portion of the fighting sequences are in a top-down style without any camera options. Button mashing is an understatement as sometimes you can’t really see the detail of the characters, which is a shame as the models are pretty cool. They aren’t without their faults, though. A few times saving the game, the shadow effect looks awful and looks like Travis has been involved in an oil accident. It doesn’t really make the most of the PS4’s power, but as it was on the Switch first, kind of makes sense.
In some respects, this would be better on the Switch. Though I like the choice of being able to play on the PS4. The reason being is the controls. Recharging the beam katana can be done by shaking the controller or holding L3 and bashing the right analogue stick. I opted for the latter as the first was clumsy and took me out of the game. Additionally, I looked like a one-handed typist on Omegle. The other reason for this being more suited to the Switch is the screen ratio is a mere 4:3. No doubt a tip of the hat to the retro games it emulates, but perhaps also a technicality? Either way, I’d have preferred to play this in widescreen. It’s like buying a colour TV only to watch black and white films. Bad example? Oh, look – a distraction.
Now, you may think I’m going to mark this down quite a bit, but you’d be wrong. If you didn’t think that, take a cookie. Personally, I love Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition. Sure, the combat and repetitive nature is a chore at times, but I got most of the references in the game, what with being a geek. A cool geek, of course. Also, I’m the kind of person that used to play the Tekken series to unlock all the FMVs (that’s full-motion videos… no I feel old) as they added so much more depth to the game. However, the Tekken series has great gameplay – Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition not so much. Nevertheless, it won’t appeal to everyone, and I can see why this is split down the middle. My score reflects on this, but to be honest, it is boosted by the features as based on the gameplay alone, it’s mediocre at best.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7/10
I would argue that this is a Marmite game – Vegemite if your toilet flushes the other way: you will either love it or hate it, but not really anything in-between. My score is based on the overall package as the experience offered carries the game. Without the characters, dialogue or extras, this would seem like any other indie game.
- Caters to the geek; pop culture references and collectables that pay homage indie games
- Doesn’t take itself serious and a unique experience
- The dialogue and extras are what makes the game
- Additional characters to unlock
- The gameplay is incredibly repetitive
- Doesn’t fully utilise the PS4’s power
- 4:3 ratio gaming throughout, other than cutscenes and the hideout
- Enemies are the same throughout
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4.