- Developer: Grasshopper Manafacture Inc.
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 18/01/2019
- Price: £24.99 / $29.99
- Review code provided by Nintendo
Travis Strikes Again
When you wait the best part of a decade for something, somewhere deep inside you pray that it doesn’t disappoint. When that something is a spiritual successor, if not quite a sequel, to the adult adventures of Travis Touchdown from legendary visionary Suda51, this is even more true and you just hope that he brings enough of his inimitable style and sass and pairs it with a game that fire on all cylinders.
We could be heroes, just for one day
Travis Strikes Again kicks off with a quite lovely little cinematic. In it Badman; a character whom Travis has had dealings with due to the unfortunate necessity of having killed his daughter, an assassin aptly titled Badgirl, has sought out Travis, who is playing video games in his trailer. Badman thinks he has the drop on Travis, but of course Travis is aware of his presence. A battle ensues which leads to both Travis and Badman being sucked into the video game world of Electric Thunder Tiger II.
Video game inception, Vinception!!
Thus sets up the premise of this tantalising title. Both Travis and Badman – either through local co-op or in single player by simply switching, are both playable characters. The idea of the game being to escape the video game world that our anti heroes are currently stuck in. Ooooooooooh, I hear you say , it’s a collection of insanely eclectic mini games from the delightfully warped mind of Mr. 51 to tide us over until No More Heroes III is inevitably unveiled?
No, no it’s not.
Travis Strikes Again
That is what it should be to deliver an engaging gameplay experience. Instead, what it offers is a hack and slash, button bashing meander across a collection of different environments. As the initial few levels played out, at first employing a bottom to top progression momentum, followed by a left to right, I soon grew genuinely weary of running, spamming attacks and occasionally charging up my katana beam sword, whilst utilising specials and the occasional roll during a boss fight.
By the time an actual mini game rolled around- a trip down Tron inspired nostalgia lane, in which you don’t control the bike but instead shift gears at the optimal moment to generate momentum – a somewhat shallow but at least different experience, I was almost spent, fatigued to the nth degree. It soon became apparent that I could not win the second race, and I was instructed to go to the 8th floor of the building to work for new parts, to improve performance, I was intrigued.
When I realised I would have to make my way through wave after wave of ‘bugs’ the games enemy of choice, I was utterly done, so fervently furious that if it were not for the fact I was playing this game for review purposes, I would have likely put the controller down there and then, never to return. I did this twice more before the chapter was through.
The final two worlds were the worst in the entire game, offering nothing more than frustration, incredibly worn buttons on your controller of choice and an early case of what this morning feels like arthritis.
Travis Strikes Back
I legitimately fell asleep at one point whilst playing. To play new ‘games’ you have to collect Death Balls for use with the Death Drive Mark II. You do this by spamming A whilst Travis and his talking cat Jeanie have long drawn out pixelated text conversations, occasionally with others that hearken back to the days of pixelated green and black hues, before eventually being able to collect the Deathball for use back in the main game. The dialogue after the second mission was particularly heinous and so drawn out that, as aforementioned, I felt myself growing ever more weary.
The good, the bad and the ugly
Its not all doom and gloom, although for the most part, yes it’s abhorrent. Travis Strikes Back looks and sounds really cool. The game is presented in a really nice way, reminiscent to the original Wii offerings but modern and slick. Shadows flicker by way of candlelight, water looks sublime and all of the animations are very watchable. In all honesty, I hope that they employ these aesthetics for No More Heroes III. Just not the gameplay mechanics. The creature design is also as striking as it ever was. Bosses looks really interesting and at least offer a little bit of variety and something memorable to hold on to. I also really appreciated all the little nods to Killer 7.
Hey, how about you just give us the Killer 7 remake instead?
There was a certain area around the halfway mark where you had to deduce who had killed everybody in an abandoned mansion by offering the corpse coffee and doughnuts to rouse their spirits.
I’m sure I probably don’t need to tell you all how you collected these items, right?
I digress though, my point being, this level of the game decided to throw in some platforming sections. Some of the WORST PLATFORMING SECTIONS EVER!! Obviously, you navigate the chasms below by bouncing on doughnuts. Some even go up and down to add more spice to proceedings. If you press jump between doughnuts you will likely fall into the pit below. instead you must hold jump to bop along like a merry sailor on a warm summers eve. That last piece of descriptive writing was utterly unnecessary, much like the platforming sections that were described in the sentences that proceeded it.
Travis Strikes Again is a difficult title to enjoy, simply because it isn’t fun. It offers very little depth and the story is completely tacked on. The gameplay is repugnant, honestly some of the most stale and repetitive that I have ever experienced in my 27 years playing games and it begs the question as to, simply put, why?
A re release of No More Heroes I and II would have done far more to create hype for a potential third outing.
In the words of Travis himself I know a lot of gamers out there who don’t have much patience.
You’ll need a saints worth to make it through this one.