Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 19.12.2019

Review for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition on PlayStation 4

After almost a decade of being in various producer roles, the lucha aficionado and punk game designer has returned to the director's chair. A lot has happened since No More Heroes for Suda Goichi. Grasshopper Manufacture grew and partnered with large publishers like EA and Microsoft. Collaborations happened, and Goichi discovered the indie scene, which sparked his drive to get back to directing. Hotline Miami, in particular, being a muse that inspired him to downsize his company just so he could have more creative control over what he would do next: Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. On the Nintendo Switch it proved to be a couch co-op cult classic, but sadly so much of its substance went over most gamers' heads. The developer soon re-released it with the extra DLC content that entailed a bonus stage and two extra characters, and it's to re-evaluate Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes - Complete Edition on PlayStation 4.

Travis Strikes Again did not make a good impression when it was first unveiled. Every No More Heroes fan was excited for the next installment, and the atmosphere was even more electric when it was announced that Suda Goichi himself was going to direct. He hadn't directed a game since the first one on the Wii; effectively sitting out the entire seventh generation, and playing producer on multiple titles. Even No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle was something many felt that his absence affected the quality and style that he is known for. From the distant overhead perspective, and emphasis on co-opt, it was hard for fans to excited for Travis Strikes Again. Little did everyone realise, that this was all part of the maestro's elaborate ruse.

Travis Strikes Again is too much of a risk to be considered a cash-grab. It is full of daring and creative choices that make it a tough sell on the surface. The gore and dismemberment is gone. Aside from the two female playable characters that get unlocked post-game, there is no fanservice. Cut-scenes or story beats are depicted with text and character portraits. For a franchise that became infamous for its brutal violence and insane cut-scenes with amazing voice work, it is understandable how this might seem like a step backwards. Anyone who wrote-off Travis Strikes Again based on this, seriously underestimated Suda Goichi's ability as a game designer. The man is a creative genius, implemented a few limitations, and made them work to its benefit. Cut-scenes are varied with different styles, from homaging low-poly pre-rendered PlayStation-era FMVs, live action, and even a high quality CGI sequence that looks like something Square Enix would produce. No matter how low of a budget, let it be known that Grasshopper Manufacture never had a shortage of style.

Screenshot for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition on PlayStation 4

Badman, a man with a bat... like some sort of... err, bat-man, is on a quest to bring back his dead daughter. The only way to do that is to get the six Deathballs which will grant the user any wish. Deathballs happen to be mysterious video games for the Death Drive MKII. This enigmatic console turns out to be part of an elaborate government conspiracy that clones the user by sampling their DNA, and somewhere along the way a fictional game designer has a creative crisis that is also meant to be a metaphor for Suda Goichi's own career. Travis and Badman work together to go inside of the worlds of each Deathball to face the hero of each of these worlds, which may or may not also represent a period in Suda Goichi's life. On top of all this, is a narrative steeped in themes of fatherhood, with major players seemingly avoiding responsibilities. Only a methodical punk-savant could tackle such a layered premise, and effortlessly pull it off with such blazing panache. It is no wonder why so much of Travis Strikes Again went over so many people's heads; the sheer density of it all can be too much to take in at once.

Travis has grown so much since his last outing. Despite the fact he is still the brash and vulgar otaku, he comes across more pensive in his dialogue. He is written as if he's been around, and it is very obvious that the director is speaking through him at times when he not speaking through Dr. Juvenile. The moment Travis shares a scene with the first boss - his childhood video game hero - it becomes very clear that Travis Strikes Again is going to give gamers much more than they bargained for. Dialogue is so much more thought-provoking, often charged with a hint of withered experience.

Screenshot for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition on PlayStation 4

It would be easy to assume that all this razzle-dazzle is just style over substance. Travis Strikes Again actually has the most refined and deepest gameplay ever seen in a Grasshopper Manufacture title. The simple addition of jumping adds so much more options to combating the huge hordes of game-bugs. Each of the four playable characters have their own distinct play-style. Badman, for example, is weaker than Travis, but can tank much more on top of his much wider swing. Badgirl has a slower wind up animation, and Shinobu hits the hardest while having the lowest HP. The real distinguishers are their unique moves that are acquired from chips that are hidden throughout the journey. These chips, which do not look anything like Nintendo Switch cartridges, are how players are given freedom to express how to play, since each character can only equip four, and some chips can allow specific co-op only special attacks.

Anybody who had reservations about the gameplay because it was different looking can rest assured that Travis Strikes Again is undeniably a very satisfying action title, where enemies violently erupt into polygons with a crunchy audible cue. Travis can mow down more enemies than ever, and the distant camera angle can make some bosses play out like the marathon battles in Furi. Choice moments incorporate bullet-hell style patterns to avoid and the field is used to a degree the series never has. Travis Strikes Again originally was a Nintendo Switch release, and utilized Unreal 4. On PlayStation 4, Grasshopper Manufacture keeps complete parity between versions. There is almost nothing different between either way to play aside from the removal of a few Majora's Mask t-shirts. Maybe some of these flaws might have been part of the designer's meta vision... or maybe not. Little things that could have been addressed like some distant object pop-in and some noticeable LOD generation would not be an issue for the beefier PlayStation 4 specs.

Screenshot for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition on PlayStation 4

Travis Strikes Again, for the most part, looked great, with some exceptions, like forest areas in Coffee & Donuts world, which has some woeful looking trees. It might have been a stylistic choice, but there had to have been a better way to express a low-fi woodland, since there are much more convincing woods in much older titles from the fifth or even sixth console generations. On Switch, this release was so impressive for actually pulling off an action game with dozens of guys on screen, while maintaining 60 frames per second. PlayStation 4 is much more capable than this, and it is disappointing that the extra horse-power is completely unused. They missed an opportunity to add an extra difficulty mode where the amount of enemies could have been doubled or even tripled.

While Travis Strikes Again might be the most polished and refined entry in the No More Heroes oeuvre in terms of fast arcade-action, it can be too easy on the default difficulty setting. Even on the "spicy" setting, the lives system in place can make it so cheesing bosses is a viable option. Lives can even be carried over between the various Deathballs and can be farmed, making players effectively immortal. The combat is certainly above par from previous Grasshopper Manufacture action games and the addition of jumping does add some versatility; it is clearly not designed around platforming. Leaping in Travis Strikes Again has a bit of stickiness to it which is not the best way to negotiate narrow platforms with bottomless pits. Thankfully these do not occur frequently enough and they are still not the worst platforming found in the indie scene. They just stick out because everything else is just so enjoyable.

Screenshot for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes - Complete Edition on PS4 is almost identical to the Switch version. Nothing new was added, and even the old flaws are still intact. The inclusion of DLC content adds great value to what is already a highly replayable title. The extra scenario of Killer Marathon seemingly addresses the most obvious complaint of the core experience being too easy, by being the longest and hardest stage in the package. Even the DLC boss of the new level is pretty angry about the fact that nobody played his Deathball, and that he is destined to be forgotten. After playing Travis Strikes Again, it feels like you'll have gotten to know Suda Goichi on some weird intimate level that words cannot describe. The man is clearly aware of what everyone thinks of him, and what was expected from this experimental spin-off, which also happened to tie so many of his works together in a shockingly cohesive little box.

Developer

Grasshopper Manufacture

Publisher

Marvelous

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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