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Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition Review - It's Called Fashionably Late...

Praised for its over the top action scenes, wacky humour and ridiculous dialogue, No More Heroes has been a hit with fans ever since it first released, but with a top down perspective and no ranked Assassins to contend with, is Travis Strikes Again worth picking up or are you better off skipping it and waiting for No More Heroes 3?

No More Heroes is and always will be one of my all time favourite games. It's a title that's never afraid to be itself in how unique, over the top and downright absurd it can be, and yet it always manages to succeed in combining these attributes in the best possible ways. It's as violent and entertaining as it is both rude and crude.

Unlike previous entries however, a lot has changed with this considerably more indie title. Travis Strikes Again sees the return of our favourite All-Star Otaku - Travis Touchdown. Only this time he's forcibly accompanied by Badman, the father of the much loved psycho drunk assassin - Badgirl.

Together, they must both conquer the world of videogames, working to succeed in gathering up all six Death Balls, to play on what is known as the incredibly rare and elusive, not-mass produced console - The Death Drive Mark 2 (or DDMKII for short). Both Travis and Badman have their own reasons for attempting to achieve this and the eventual outcome may leave you surprised. I won't spoil it, but needless to say, reaching the end of Travis Strikes Again will net you a fourth playable character and the basic plot outline for No More Heroes 3, but wait, who's the third character you ask? Well, it's none other than Shinobu from No More Heroes 2.

There are times where the backdrops and fighting arenas are simply gorgeous.

Shinobu is unlocked much later in the story, but like all other characters, requires individual experience gained from playing the Death Ball games. If you played the Switch version of Travis Strikes again, you may be wondering why I'm mentioning Shinobu and this is because she was previously only accessible via DLC. This time around however, the PC and PS4 versions of Travis Strikes Again includes all of the DLC Switch owners had to pay for, so if you're playing on these formats you're getting the complete version of the game.

Many of the games features can only be accessed via the main hub area, which just so happens to be Travis' trailer. From here, you can continue the story (via Travis' Bike or Badman's Car), use the toilet (save the game), purchase/change t-shirts and rate/read collected Ramen entries (from the many hidden Ramen stands within each Death Game) via the PC, view archives you've unlocked, re-play Death Games and check out your Fax Machine for messages and hints of where Jeane has hidden herself within the game world. Find her in all locations and you'll unlock an extra Skill Chip.

Furi is a fantastic indie title and Travis wears it with pride.

Being able to change t-shirts has always been a staple of the No More Heroes series, but to see licensed tees here from other indie games was a really nice touch, and you'd better believe I was repping that Furi t-shirt from start to finish.

Each death game has a unique style of gameplay thrown in on top of the basic attacks you'll quickly come to grips with and starts with a unique opening video sequence to set the scene for what's to come. One of the Death Games has you tracking down a mass murderer who also exists in the real world (potential No More Heroes 3 boss?), while another much later in the game has you racing in the Golden Dragon GP (heavily based on a game called Zero4 Champ) and then fighting against an ex bouncer turned racer, which I recorded for your viewing pleasure below.

For the most part you'll have to decide whether to stick with Travis or Badman for the majority of the game, though solely leveling up your preferred character or sharing your gained experience across each of the four characters you'll eventually unlock over the course of the game, is entirely up to you. That said, each of the four characters have their own signature weapons, with the only disconnect being that you have to charge up each characters weapon after a set amount of attacks, even though technically Travis is the only one with a weapon requiring energy to use. It's a little odd, but doesn't detract from the overall fun.

Adding to the fun is the inclusion of Skill chips. Each character can equip a total of four Skill Chips which can bolster your attacks, re-position your enemies and even heal you. There were three I used almost exclusively and they were the Wing Chip (this creates a line of electricity dealing significant damage), the Shining Chip (A telekinetic ability that allows you to hold, move and fling enemies in a direction of your choice. Fling enemies into walls or other enemies for even more damage/crowd control. What's not to love?) and the ∀ Chip which simply generates a stationary healing aura centred on the location you activate it. There are a good amount of Skill Chips in Travis Strikes Again, but the ∀ Chip is arguably the most useful one to have. Still, if you're looking for more of a challenge, this is an extra slot for equipping something else potentially just as useful, say for example the Self Chip, which pulls and groups enemies into a certain area, positioning them nicely to take the full brunt of your attacks. After using a skill, each one has their own set recharge time. This prevents you from spamming some of the more powerful abilities and adds a level of tactics to your style of play.

The Death Drive Mark 2 - This is the console you'll be ball collecting for.

Some of the Skill Chips you'll find in Travis Strikes Again also include character specific abilities, with two to three being exclusive to each of the four playable characters on offer. The Skill Chip descriptions will tell you which ones these are, but there's a pretty fun one for two player co-op, which is another excellent feature of Travis Strikes Again.

This is where things get silly, as you have a Dragonball Fusion technique that allows Travis and Badman to temporarily transform into Travisman. The animation is hilarious and anything in close proximity to you will take damage at the end of it. The only issue is both of you have to be willing for this to work and it's more a special move than anything else. As radical as the design is, you don't get to run around in this form which is a bit of a shame, but I can see the complications enabling such an action would have.

It's worth mentioning Travis Strikes Again features a ton of references, not just in well known Pop Culture, but also with other Suda51 titles. There are multiple Dragonball references that include collecting the Death Balls themselves, the transformation mentioned above and even the summoning of a Shenron like entity to grant one wish after collecting all of the balls. Whenever you load into a Death Game, you spawn in like Terminator, naked and crouched, in a sphere surrounded by lightning. There's also a digital cameo involving Mondo Zappa from Killer is Dead (you can read our review for that here), a whole entire Death Game dedicated to Shadows of the Damned, virtually confirming a sequel to the dark and crazy title, and there's even a fourth wall breaking joke about "Deadpole".

The Golden Dragon GP -  This is just one of the many Death Games that await.

Unlike previous No More Heroes titles, there is no longer a high or low stance for your weapons. This is a very different game and one that was made solely to play like an indie title, but don't let that put you off because Boss fights are a lot of fun and feature some of your all-time favourite wrestling finishers. Outside of the previously mentioned Skill Chips, you have your basic light and heavy attacks and will even generate a special attack over time that allows for you to hit R1 three times, for three dash attacks that hit harder and harder and harder. This covers a huge area and will clear the crowds in no time.

Travis Strikes Again features three difficulty settings (Sweet, Mild and Bitter) with an extra difficulty unlocked at the end (Spicy) of the game. On Mild and above, waves of enemies will become increasingly difficult to overcome, but with a good number of Skill Chips and an experience based leveling system in place, there's rarely a dull moment to be had. The story segments are a bit long however, and can drag out a little more than you'd like, but this is mostly due to the fact there's very little voice acting this time around, as instead Travis Strikes Again attempts to emulate the story-telling of old school, retro games with green text and images on a black background. Expect a real retro 80's vibe with a Synthwave and 8-bit mixed OST and excellently emulated 80's visuals to boot. The visual animation of Travis and Badman falling into every Death Game even feels a little Grindhouse-y.

Now that I'm done with this adventure, it's time to save and prepare for the next!

The music and visuals are great and though this is nowhere near as detailed as a AAA title, it doesn't need to be. It accomplishes what it set out to do and achieves that very well. Sure, this won't be a title for everyone, but if you're a fan of Suda51, can forgive the odd bit of lag here and there, and can get on board with what the legendary Director was going for this time around, you'll likely find yourself smiling from start to finish.

The main question you'll want answered is "Do you need to play Travis Strikes Again to understand the direction of No More Heroes 3?" and the simple answer is yes, this seems to be the case. Several things take place that will likely determine where the story of No More Heroes 3 is headed and Suda51 himself has said that certain events taking place towards the end of the game will set the scene for the start of NMH3. Plus, let's not forget the unexpected return of a certain misguided character many of us have come to know and love.

Overall, at its core, Travis Strikes Again is a top-down Battle Royale styled platforming game with waves upon waves of enemies to defeat, and yet it's so much more than that. This may not be the AAA title you were hoping for, but Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is an absolute blast to play (alone or with friends) and if you're heavily invested in the world and lore of No More Heroes, there's a ton of enjoyment to be had here.

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