No More Heroes was my entry way into the mind of Suda51, a man who’s career I have followed all the way since going back and replaying all of his past games. He is a legend and in my opinion is considered one of the greatest minds in the video game realm, and his new game No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again is one of his best.
Let’s start from the top in what I think about this game and why I think you should own this title, because honestly, this is a very personal story written by a very smart man who talks about how he breathed life into his work and how his thoughts as a gamer about the industry he works in and the world’s he has created. There’s a great video created by a YouTube channel called TheGamingBritShow and in this video he goes over what he feels is the meaning behind this game, and i think he’s dead on the fucking money.
No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again is an arcade action game set in the same vein as Hotline Miami, a departure from the character action roots of the series but I think works for this smaller scale title. It keeps the heart of the action based series while looking at the indie games it is inspired by. And it does this new gameplay style well! I found myself looking at this arcade action game the same way I look at a character action games, trying to find the best ways of utilizing the games actions to get the best rankings.
Now looking at Suda’s other work I can say as a huge fan, that his perspective of gameplay in his games have always been the weakest part of the game. They have never been bad by any stretch, but, compared to other games of the same era they’ve always been lacking. In Travis Strikes Again, this is not a issue, the gameplay is solid and more importantly is fun. The depth and complexity of character action games mixed with the fast pace action of arcade action games makes for an addictive experience that i just couldn’t put down.
Travis Strikes Again’s story is a tricky thing to talk about. The story follows Travis Touchdown after the story of No More Heroes 2. He has run from the world to live in a Sudo retirement playing video games in the woods on his own. But Travis’ past has shown up again and is throwing him back into the life he thought he could run away from. Deep within this narrative is that this is actually Suda looking at himself, and trying to explain this in my review would lessen the impact of the story.
Let me say this, I can say that the narrative of this game is closer to the nihilistic worldview that Suda has in a lot of the games he has full control over, instead of just being wacky or in other words “Juvenile”. This game takes it wacky narrative seriously and so should you as the player. That’s all I’m going to touch on the story because honestly if you’re a fan of any of Suda’s games, just play this one, you won’t be disappointed.
Now let’s talk about the style of the game. I think outside of the story is where Suda51 shines more than most game directors. Travis Strikes Again’s art style reeks of that “punk rock, don’t give a fuck!” attitude that Suda’s games are known for, but i feel that in this game it’s got that twinge of existential nihilism that the entire game is drenched in. Most scenes in this game have Travis looking off screen as a old VHS screen fuzz is used as he talks about these games and his existential crisis that he is going through in the game giving it the perfect marriage of art style and story.
Music-wise, this game has a snappy amazing soundtrack that matches and mimics the era of games that they’re trying to mimic in each one of the Death Drive games, bringing up that kind of nostalgic feeling associated with those eras. There are some sections of the soundtrack I cling onto more than others for a variety of reasons; the music in the Death Drive game “Serious Moonlight” I think has some of the best music in the game for just what they do with it.
I want to end this with a closing thought about the game as a whole and the man behind it. I don’t think there has ever been a creator I have felt so closely mirror’s me with his weird ideas and a nihilistic view on the world. This is a game about a man pushed to the edge of the world and is looking back at things and is wondering if it’s worth coming back around to and try things one more time. The game shows that by being a fun little project that plays fantastically, and has a style that is second to none, all rocking to an amazing soundtrack. Showing that Suda51 still has a lot of amazing game ideas and can still make an amazing game.
Suda51 has made a modern masterpiece. This story of a man who runs away from the world only to have to go through his own past failures by looking at those failures from multiple angles really shows the kind of place Suda51 is in right now. Hes at peak performance and ready to make what I think will be some of his best work in his career.
I’m going to give No More Heroes: Travis Strikes a solid 4 out of 5 Stars! Not perfect by any means but this not only a fun video game but an important piece of art that i will think about and replay for years to come.