Travis Strikes Again No More Heroes: Bringing Back the Tone

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Travis Strikes Again No More Heroes: Gameplay Analysis

Recently Nintendo blew up the internet with many reveals on their recent direct, mostly Smash Bros on the Switch, but we shall get to that later. The big thing for me was the first look into Travis Strikes Again, sure it was only one minute, but hot damn there was a lot in that minute. Not only we got to see some of the levels and themes, we saw pure gameplay, the co-op, bosses, and even the adventure mode.

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The first thing to take note of is all of the usual No More Heroes elements still around. Of course Travis taking a dump for saving the game is still around. The usual beam katana is around and I already did see different colors with blue and red, so different beam katanas will be around, possibly. With how this game is looking, the new beam katanas will just be stronger than the last one, just like the original game. Then one aspect of how the game works is getting through levels and fighting the big boss. Now Travis is jumping into a total of seven games, I am not sure if there will be multiple bosses in each game or just one for each one. I bet there will be more than just seven bosses because the character Badman will easily be a fight. I am happy to see that Badman is not just going to be the boss character in each video game. Hell, Badman shows one of the biggest differences in this title.

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Badman will be the second playable character and there have been different characters to play as before, but co-op is a big change. Travis Strikes Again really takes an arcade like style with the presentation. We see the bars on the side. One bar I am unsure of what it is, maybe it is like a power bar based on how well you are doing because I see them going up when Travis and Badman connect any hits. I clearly see a battery icon above that bar and near it is a number. I feel like the number could be for the big bars which tells you what level you are on with your strength. The battery could easily be the usual No More Heroes gimmick with having to recharge your weapon. Now the health icon is different, but I think it is shown with the face of the playable character. In different moments I see the face have this bar inside of it. You can even see it go down when Travis gets hit.

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Then we have the four buttons with a hand, T, hourglass, and arrows icons. These buttons are showcasing the different attacks Travis now has. The hand icon does this force blast attack. The T buttons has Travis perform this spin attack which does a whole lot of coverage. Travis is learning moves from Majima! So far I have no knowledge on what the other two buttons do. There was a moment on where the hourglass was used, but we did not see it. My guess would be it will slow down enemies. Now the top button does change in direction. The arrows originally point up, but when Badman is playing along, the arrows are pointing towards Badman’s side of the screen. Then it looks like Badman has different attacks compared to Travis, maybe the two can switch abilities around? Then there was the last moment where Travis and Badman are eating something at a food stand, will this be a new save screen for co-op?

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Now for a little detail that makes me so happy to see is the little bit of the adventure mode. I do think that this will be extremely different for this game, but not different for Grasshopper Manufacture. That one screen has Travis talking with a man by the name Uehara. The style of it makes me think of The Silver Case and with a name like Uehara that could be pointing to that. Kamui Uehara is a title character not only in The Silver Case, but for Flower, Sun, and Rain and almost Killer7. So seeing Kamui popping up in Travis Strikes Again not only means that Suda was serious about mentioning Kill the Past again, but the adventure mode will be a visual novel. I bet many will not be happy about that, but with a game like this where Suda says he wants to get back to the roots of their company it makes sense to go back to this format. The Silver Case has also been brought back with remastered editions for the original and the sequel. Another hint towards this is that the coloring of this screen is green and black which is similar to the Kamuidrome section of The Silver Case.

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Reminding me of other games, a big aspect about this new No More Heroes is that other indie developers are helping with this title. Obviously the people being Hotline Miami and Shovel Knight are helping out. Both of them were announced by Suda and I have a feeling that I may know one more now. I remembering talking about Furi before with this game and now with the overhead camera view, it is looking like Furi. Furi is an amazing action game where it is a boss battle after another. It is extremely hard game and yet so satisfying to play. You can easily jump in and try a boss battle and try again and again. Mowing down the foes before the boss battles, reminds me of Hotline Miami. Then the introduction screen for one of the levels reminded me of Shovel Knight with both the sprite art and even the lightning sound effect. I am curious on who else will be around helping with this game because it seems like we know three of them now. I would love to hear Wayfoward helping with this game!

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Now for a little bit of a side note, I have to say the amount of negativity with this recent reveal is shocking. Many people were clearly not paying attention on how this would be a spin-off. I was expecting something new because Suda is back in the directors chair since the original No More Heroes. This man wants to bring back Travis in a different way than just doing the third game. No More Heroes 3 is obviously on the way though. This game becoming a bit more arcade like is awesome to me since it will just be easy to pick up and keep playing. The boss characters look fantastic and the many different environments really keep the ascetics fresh. Another thing that I know about Suda is that he is a man who is not afraid to break formulas. He tends not wanting to do the same game over and over again. He has even talked about how video games have so many clichés that people expect from certain titles. Suda hates that and thinks it really holds back the video game medium from going higher than it could. I always love to see what ideas come from Grasshopper, they can be a bit wacky and out there at times, but I easily adore their ambition. Suda 51 himself really speaks creativity and his previous four titles he directed really shows that.

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So for all that we have seen of TSA so far I am extremely excited. To be honest I was actually expecting the usual No More Heroes format, but seeing this whole new pace of direction makes me happy. Hell the Grasshopper logo got changed to a Travis head! I think we are going to see more of Travis Touchdown for many years to come (maybe in Smash Bros!) People saying that No More Heroes should be like this or that, clearly do not know how the company works and even how Suda 51 wants to make video games. Travis Strikes Again is going back to basics and working with indie developers to make an extremely fun game and reignite the flame in Travis Touchdown!

TSA!