Previously a Nintendo exclusive, the Suda-51 title Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes has landed on the PS4 (and PC) in a “complete edition” that not only includes all the post-release content but also improved visuals and frame rates. We’re reviewing it on a PS4 Pro.
Not owning a Nintendo Switch, it’s been a while since I played a No More Heroes game. Travis Strikes Again is set several years after No More Heroes 2 (which was a Wii title) and finds Travis Touchdown semi-retired, living up in a trailer playing video games all day. When Badman, father of his former nemesis Badgirl, suddenly shows up wanting revenge, his retirement plans quickly take a turn.
Both of them get sucked into a strange videogame console called the Death Drive Mk (which sounds like an underground version of the Sega Genesis), they must join forces and fight their way out through a series of videogame-inspired challenges. What ensues is a game so riddled with video game and pop culture references that Ready Player One feels like all original material, but what sounds great on paper can also go off the rails a little bit.
Travis Strikes Again doesn’t just visually reference other materials though – very often a reference is hidden in a gameplay type or through narrative, which is often of the meta-variety as it pokes fun at certain videogame tropes. The risk, of course, is that many references will feel too obscure as a result – or will start to blend together as more of the same. There are also instances where the game shoots itself in the foot, like when it goes overboard with textual narrative only to make fun of games with a lot of textual narrative.
Ironically, that also translates to the gameplay itself, which due to the central premise of the game gets mixed up but still ends up feeling a bit repetitive. Camera perspectives change between (mini)games, but never quite to a degree where things feel radically different. As a result, a lot of the game feels like a crazy mashup between twin stick shooters, Smash TV and Hotline Miami – since most of the game is played from a top-down perspective despite occasional third person camera use. As you progress though the game and unlock more and more moves, combat gets less repetitive, but it’s a bit of a grind to get there.
Since Travis has to team up with Badman, you also have the option to play the game with a friend, which makes the experience a lot more fun. This is a local multiplayer game only though, so even though that is the best way to enjoy the game it’s something to keep in mind if you’re more geared towards online multiplayer.
No More Heroes works best as an action game, although it also features the occasional puzzle for you to tackle. The action sequences feel like they were developed for the Switch’s portable mode though, since the perspective could (and perhaps should) have been zoomed out a bit more for TV-based play on a console like the PS4. Things can feel a little cramped on screen as a result, especially when opponents attack you from off-screen.
With its unique sense of humor, bizarre cutscenes, over the top visual style and somewhat repetitive gameplay, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is definitely a niche title – its genre-hopping basic setup never quite translates into something that mainstream audiences will get and appreciate. Then again, this is still a Suda-51 game, so in a way that’s hardly surprising.