There are games that are born from precise ideas and others that are forced to juggle in the chaos of Mercaro's laws, being made first of all with specific marketing purposes behind them. Goichi Suda he knows this well, so much so that he has never hidden the fact that Travis Strikes Again was not de facto No More Heroes 3. What this has led fans to be rather skeptical and suspicious about the final result. Now, with the game available on the virtual and non-Nintendo Switch shelves, we can finally understand with our eyes, hands and ears if this sort of "dress rehearsal" towards NMH3 worth its (meager) purchase price. And above all to see if Suda51 has not lost its brilliant, and somewhat grotesque, artistic touch.
Let's start immediately by saying one thing: I want a lot of good in Suda. IS Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is a game absolutely in line with its light-hearted and slightly crazy spirit. The good Goichi he pulled out of his mind a spin-off that is none other than a sum of the playful madnesses that have pervaded his titles since Killer7 (or maybe even before). In DNA there is a great deal of No More Heroes in the game, as it is nothing more than a hack 'n' slash often framed with a functional bird's eye view. And if the "plot" is obviously just a pretext - the evil Bad Man must avenge the death of his daughter Charlotte at the hands of Travis Touchdown - it is the rest that overwhelms the player (within the limits).
The fourth wall is often and willingly torn to pieces literally by gimmicks on the edge of the surreal, directly involving the protagonist beyond the screen of the hybrid platform. And if the theme of the "cursed consoles" will be the driving force for a whole series of madnesses in perfect Suda51 style (I'm not going to spoil the surprises of the game), where Travis Strikes Again it stumbles when it is analyzed under the cold playful profile.
God forgives, Travis no
This is because, again, the title is not a chapter in NMH's regular series Grasshopper suffers from a chronic lack of finishing. From the gameplay - dangerously redundant in the long run - to the technical sector, which net of aesthetic curiosities and some excellent visual gimmicks (especially when the game turns into an 8-bit classic, just to name one), polygonally speaking there we are facing a title from the last century. If not earlier.
Not to mention that the set of moves provided to the protagonist (or to the protagonists, in case you opt for the cooperative mode for two players) is quite basic, consisting mostly of a light attack, one heavy, one in jump and a loaded combo. at maximum power, all within stages asphyxiated by the "corridor / room" structure repeated ad libitum. To which you will say “to hell, it's Suda51! These things have never been too important in his games. " Which I would also agree on, were it not that all these technical limitations are reflected on the general usability, on the mediocre andante. Mind you, though: this is not an accusation aimed at ending the game. Indeed, quite the opposite. It is about going to point out some very specific flaws that - hidden by a dozen more or less scenic in-game tricks - will deceive the less experienced eye.
After all, that's okay: Travis Strikes Again it is also and above all a tribute to indie titles made with a reduced budget (not to mention non-existent), so much so that it is clearly marked over and over again. And if Suda51 hides behind the thing to show and ironize on the technical and structural limitations of its own product, the thing is forgivable only up to a certain point. Everything to throw away, then? Not at all. Net of the more or less evident shortcomings, the title Grasshopper Manufacture is a game that loves to entertain and have fun, which is more unique than rare in today's videogame panorama. Too bad for that flavor in the mouth typical of "I would like to, but I can't". Maybe next time, Goichi.