Does your bloodlust keep you from going to the zoo?
Do you yearn for the days when games were simple and…green?
Do you have a vendetta against the 4th wall?
Well, grab your fluorescent light bulb, jack it off, and plug yourself in!
Welcome to Travis Strikes Again
Coming to us by the infamous Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture, is arguably the strangest game in the No More Heroes franchise.
The story kicks off with Badman. Remember him? …Neither did I.
Turns out he is the father of Bad Girl. Now I know you should remember her.
Badman is hiding out in some hotel room with a professional assassin after him. A phone call is exchanged between the two and it turns out the Badman is trying to find Travis for killing his daughter.
Now I get it! Bad-girl and Bad-man. Clever….
Anyhoof, Badman begs for his life and asks to not be killed by Mr. Assassin and Mr. Assassin gives the location of Travis and a mysterious “ball”. Travis, on the other side of “who the fuck knows,” is chilling in a forest in his trailer with Jeane, his cat, and playing the Death Drive MK-II. Travis is attacked by Badman and both are sucked into the Death Drive with Travis’ “Death Glove” (not the Power Glove).
Now this isn’t your normal everyday looking console…
This Death Drive, created by Dr. Juvenile (she really isn’t that important), runs “Death Balls” which are separate, playable games themselves and the one to complete the games first, gets any wish they want granted.
When the two aren’t fighting whatever baddies are in the individual Death Balls, the game shifts over to “Travis Strikes Back”; a visual novel of sorts where Travis is on the lookout for the remaining Death Balls. Better get used to tapping the “A” button and reading green.
This game and the next game on the review docket are excellent examples of why I try and at least finish a game before I review it. Because the game is co-op, I had the great idea to invite my wife to play the game with me- and we were both surprised by how bat-shit this game can be.
That was the number of times I found myself saying “What the Fuck?” while playing this game. I didn’t want to immediately write the game off, but fans of the previous titles will look at this and be…unpleasantly surprised at first.
It does not look like any of the previous games. You can tell that Suda wanted to go in a different direction with this game, though it does still hold the “Suda 51 Charm”. At certain points you see 4th wall breaking Travis and Jeane talking about how the gamer, you, would be bored by just reading so much text in an action game so they change the style on the fly to Travis complaining to the bosses he fights about the possible Metacritic score the game would receive.
The whole game plays as a homage to a retro style of gameplay with the spice of Suda, and on a console like the Nintendo Switch, it fits the on-the-go arcade aesthetic I think Suda was going for.
Now that doesn’t mean that the game is a “great” fit. Unfortunately, it’s far from it. The game has a top down buttonmashing sort of feel, the with the standard light and heavy attack and dodge. Along your adventure, you will encounter skills chips and some of these can be shared between Travis and Badman. What I wish wasn’t shared between the characters is experience. I don’t see the point in having a pool of experience that both characters share. The game itself isn’t grindy but it could be, if you want to make sure the sheep of the week doesn’t mop the floor with ewe.
Another thing that grinds my gears is the game camera. The camera is not your friend and it will kill you. You have a limited view of the screen with the left and right side taken up with the characters skills and health bar- it’s almost a vertical phone video’s worth of playable screen. You only know that an enemy is still alive but outside of view because of a red glow on the side of the screen. So, you might be thinking that you can run to the side and finish them off, not knowing if it is one of the easy 10 HP ones or the ones that explode.
Good luck guessing! And no, I am not done with the camera.
Since this is game is a Matryoshka doll, let’s talk about the worst one; Coffee and Doughnuts. C and D is the worst game out of the bunch, not because of the enemies, or the special coins, or the special enemies, or the music. It is the camera. C and D has you going through a mansion whose doors lead to separate, non-important levels to get, you guessed it, coffee and doughnuts. What’ll kill you is the fact that this part of the game is a side-scrolling platformer, but it is still 3D. So you’ll run into the wonderful problem of trying to land on a platform that you might not be able to see, with enemies shooting that you also might not be able to see and having to restart from a checkpoint that you don’t know about.
Ain’t that grand?
I don’t want to just continue to rip into the game as Eurogamer and Metacritic have already done that. The overall game is still good beneath its flaws. On one hand, it’s co-op and casual enough that me and my wife had a great time with it. On the other hand, the game is so unforgiving that you’ll need to have a co-op partner because only one of you dying doesn’t take a life. So there’ll be moments where you are screaming to your partner not to die while you mash whatever buttons you can so that you can revive.
But now I’ll get to the most important part of this review. Is the game fun?
Short answer? Yes.
Long answer? See whole review.
The game is wonderful on its own, as long as you don’t think about the last No More Heroes game you played and expect that. I did have fun with it, and I might get the DLC for it. I am not sure I care much about the Season Pass but the game is $39.99 so I would say that if you get a Nintendo eShop gift card as a present, pick it up. It’s funnier as a story than it is good as a game.
Travis Strikes Again: A swing and a miss at the top of the 9th.