So at the GDC there was a lot of talk about indie games with Nintendo and just indie games in general. What also popped up was a playable demo of the new Suda 51 game, Travis Strikes Again. I know I have a nice streak of No More Heroes posts on here lately, but hey I am working on other things right now and I got a convention coming up, so I need material that is fast and easy. Not saying I am not giving my one hundred percent on this, it’s just when I talk about No More Heroes, it flows easily. Again you can tell by looking at my previous posts. Well in this playable demo of TSA, there were actually lines of dialogue and oddly enough some of the lines were exclusive to the demo, which is awesome. There were some lines that took my interest though and when thinking about this game’s situation in general, I can tell that Suda is bringing back his incredibly strange meta humor and biting satire. Great to see you back in fashion Suda!
Even if this game is a spin-off of the main series, there are still many elements being retained. This is common for spin-off titles and sadly some are not accepting that still. I am fine if someone does not like the game that is an opinion, but when others are simply yelling they have been lied to is absurd. Moving onwards to the point is that what I loved about No More Heroes 1 and 2 would be the biting satire of violent media. Not only that, but what that media can do to people. With the first No More Heroes common stereotypes were being shown to be not as great as it really is. The idea of a paradise is a lie and being badass in the fantasy world has completely different context in the real one. The second game brought back the stereotypes and even highlights more into the concept of revenge and now it eats people. With Travis Strikes Again it brings up an old idea in a different fashion and even making fun of recent developments that the media has been struggling with.
The old idea is how the fantasy world is not that great. Travis is literally in the game world now, but here he is doing the same old. Killing foes in his way and moving onto the next stage to fight the boss up ahead. What got me thinking about this was the artwork shown in-game for when the characters are talking. The imagery is quite scary to look at and while Travis in the game looks fine (oddly enough looks younger, but that could because of better graphics or change of art style), but in the talking art he looks like he is way older than it appears and even his hair is a complete mess. This reminds me of Flower Sun and Rain where character portrait art differs from the actual in-game art. So Suda 51 is using that idea again too. Even in the beginning of one of these dialogue is that Travis is a legend and that only means his time has passed. Travis even starts to call things out and references lines that were used in the last Nintendo direct. When Travis is in this world, so far nothing is making him happy, the lines of dialogue he actually sounds pissed off. Add to the fact that someone after his life has entered with him you got one horrible fantasy world.
The original No More Heroes brought up escapism into the story thanks to Holly Summers, my favorite boss from that game. Travis got away from his problems and now lives by himself doing what he wants to do. Sure he seems to be quite a shut in with how many video games he has and for how long it took Badman to find him. Now Travis is fully absorbed into escapism and yet Travis is not even enjoying himself now. There is even a line talking about how success stories do not do as well than compared to stories about someone’s failures. Tragedy is quite common in story telling and is a reality some try to avoid. Success is only judged by two things, the person themself or the society that one lives in. Either way people will learn from something out from that. Mostly to not end up like that, but we do not usually learn on how to do that. I have hit my low points before in my life and for a time I focused on them a bit too much since the damage was more compared to the amount of happiness I got from a good moment. This is why escapism exists because some people need to balance out the bad in their lives, but some take that a bit too far.
A big thing that is happening in gaming right now is the use of virtual reality. VR gaming is being added to many titles for optional use. There are even strictly VR only games. Nintendo is even working with their controllers to have better rumble features, the feeling of a game is becoming a bit of an importance today. Now while I do feel like Nintendo is still considering how fun it is, there are others that ignore it and simply was a game that absorbs them. The self insert fantasy is becoming more of a tradition in gaming. I even feel that Suda expected people to have some criticism to this new title because of how different it is to the main line series. There is another aspect of gaming that is popular which is remastering or remaking older titles. Now Grasshopper is not that different since they did that with both Silver Case games (which were never released to the West), then there was FSR which was ported to the DS before (again first time getting to the West), and even now the company is considering to work with FSR and Killer7 for remastering. The thing to come across though is that people do expect the same old at times. They want the same experience because they got comfortable with it.
With all that said, what is TSA doing to make fun of that? Well one obvious line comes up from when the demo ends. The boss of the demo stops the fight and tells Travis he should give up his real life and just live in the video games. Travis pushes that aside and says “Games are supposed to be played, not lived.” This line right here reminds me of when Travis interacted with Holly Summers because that distinct line just had my mind open up with what TSA is doing. A game bringing back the sharp satire of the original games, but giving it a twist. Obviously the fantasy world being shown to not be as great is back and with a character like Badman the idea of the second game is around still. The big difference here is that games are supposed to be played which is why Suda is focusing on the indie feel for TSA. Indie games are being just that, games that are supposed to be played. Nothing is wrong with having an artistic vision with gaming, but the point should come across from the game itself through the playing of it. This is why Suda came back to try to push that idea back into people. Love video games for what they are supposed to be, games.