Have you ever played a game so mediocre and bland, that it made you want to take your Nintendo Switch and dip it in bleach? Well I have. I played Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes which is game with so much potential, that falls so flat on its face that it most likely killed the whole franchise. Maybe that’s good … Travis has suffered enough.
If you don’t know, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is a spin-off of cult classic Nintendo Wii game, NO MORE HEROES. The original games were silly, bit clunky, and weird in that typical Suda51 style and we all hoped Travis Strike Back will have at least some of that charm. Yet, I have to tell you that it does not have any of it.
Instead of seeking funds for a proper NO MORE HEROES sequel on a crowdfunding campaign, Suda51 decided to make a budget spin-off, where sales (in theory) would help him fund NO MORE HEROES 3. Suda51 even said that a “NO MORE HEROES sequel depends on success of Travis Strikes Again”. Overall I’m not a big fan of selling a game by holding another game hostage. Yet, I guess in some way it’s a better way of doing it than outright asking people for money. Unless what you offer them instead is a PSP-style spin-off with aspect ratio of a Wii game. With bad graphics, boring level design and with controls that feel like they were designed for 3DS or Vita instead of modern day console. So let’s take a closer look at this TRAVISty.
Feels very PSP
My first impression of Travis Strikes Again were that this game reminds me of something. Something that long died and that everyone has forgotten about … the PSP. If you had PSP back in the day you must remember all those terrible, awful spin-offs and water-down ports that made their way onto that system. Awfully bland and mediocre games such as Godfather: Mob Wars. Games that we bought either way fooling ourselves that we are playing full fledged console game on the go. They not only played worse than the console games, they also had less features. This was because PSP did not have that much power. It was fairly weak system not capable of facilitating full fledged console games.
This is how Travis Strikes Again feels. Like a PSP game, which is an insult not only to the franchise but also the Switch itself. It should not feel like a handheld game of the early 00’s but as a full on console games from 2019. It doesn’t have the scale of a modern game, and the mechanics feels outdated and in my opinion that inexcusable for a $39 game.
You may say that this game is a spin-off not a sequel so my expectation shouldn’t be too high as It has a smaller budget. Yeah sure that’s true. There is only one thing…
Indie games though
Travis Strikes Again frustrates me so much not because it’s not as good as the original, but because it’s not even as good as the indie games that Suda51 decided to promote in this game. Travis Strikes Again is a beat ‘em up. The mechanics are very unimaginative to the point that the combat gets boring within first 5 minutes. You have a light and heavy attack as well as jump and dodge, and that’s really. It has some power ups, which sometimes help mix things up. Yet, they feel very bland and are not fun to use at all.
It’s comparable it to something like Hyper Light Drifter which is an indie game, with not a huge budget. Yet, its combat is much deeper and offers different techniques and abilities. Which makes the fight infinitely more enjoyable and adds a bit of strategy to each encounter. It’s an infinitely better combat system than what Travis Strikes Again offers. Plus Hyper Light Drifter costs $19.99. You can also get Hyper Light Drifter t-shirt for your character in Travis Strikes Again.
Another issue I have is the level design. Seeing that this game offers nothing more than bashing enemies with a stick over and over again, you would think that levels would at least be interesting. But they are not. Levels are just corridors and rooms full of baddies that you kill just to move to a next corridor or room. Very, very basic. There are a few environmental puzzles but they consist mainly of hitting different levers or buttons to move different pieces of the map, to create path for yourself. It’s basic, it’s boring and only challenge there are the awful camera angles.
Yet again it feels that Suda51 should really play some of those indie games he is promoting. Games like Hollow Knight and Undertale utilise the level design in very creative ways. And both games combined cost less than Travis Strikes Again. The list goes on and on. Plus, the aforementioned camera angles at one point zooms out so far, that characters are the size of an ant.
One of the most ridiculous mechanics is the way you charge your sword. You have to press the left thumbstick and wiggle it at the same time. But because left thumbstick also moves the character more often than not, you move instead of charging, or move during the charge which means you need to stop and try to do it over again. Simply bad game design.
Story? What Story?
I won’t be able to tell you if the story of Travis Strikes Again is good or not, because it was so boring that I skipped most of it. All I know is that Travis and Badman get sucked into a fake video game console. The story is told via awfully long, uninteresting text only section. Where you look at green text and some pixelated faces for what feels like eternity. Not only that, the dialogue is written in such unappealing way that I just don’t feel like reading it. It wants to be clever, tongue-in-cheek, but it’s just awkward an unfunny. I do believe Suda51 was going for Kojima style cleverness but it seems he has no writing talent to back it up. Which is a shame as the world of NO MORE HEROES has some cool characters and lore, which all went to waste in this game.
Travis Strikes Again had a potential to become a classic. It could have been the Kingdom Hearts of indie games, with Travis as the main character travelling through different indie games. Instead it’s a quick cash grab, made from some crappy assets to capitalise on popularity of the Switch. It is without a shadow of a doubt one of the worst games I have played in years and should not be bought or played by any one. If it means NO MORE HEROES 3 will never happen, so be it. Travis has suffered enough.