Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: MARVELOUS! (Nintendo) Retail
Review Context: I have played the previous two No More Heroes games. While I enjoyed the first one more, I still had a blast with both games and its gameplay showing that mixing traditional and motion controls can work with the Wii.
Date of Playthrough: January 21, 2019
With the help of the Unreal Engine 4 the game’s development was smooth and the visuals, while great, it shows that the universal gaming engine is showing its age. But the homages to different video game genres are done well, from early MS-DOS, to the choppy cut scenes of early PlayStation games. The opening cutscene is done with a nice style to where you wish the entire game was done this way.
I feel since the game is done from a top-down perspective and side-scrolling view, the visuals had to take a downgrade (with the camera being zoomed out), which is okay since I feel they were going for an early 2000’s game feel. The game runs smooth and I haven’t encountered any slowdowns or hiccups that were not intentional. Aside from the main menu and opening cut-scenes, the game is displayed in 4:3 to preserve the arcade/80s feel, along with other aesthetics.
As stated earlier, I loved the gameplay of No More Heroes with the mixture of traditional and motion controls on Wii. You would input commands normally then move the Wiimote in a motion to deliver the final blow or perform a wrestling move. While some find the hack-and-slash genre repetitive, I feel if you have a fun and addictive combat system the game can be fun. Travis Strikes Again limits this. I played the game using the Joy-Cons separated (to resemble Wii controls) and the motion movements have been scaled back dramatically. It’s used for recharging your katana sword for a much shorter duration and finishing the boss with a wrestling move. Because of this, I played the game with the Pro Controller.
You have a weak and strong attack and new features for the game. You now earn Skill Sets to have special moves and your ultimate attack. The extra attacks are neatly displayed on the side of the 4:3 ratio display. You have the ability to map the special attacks to any face button.
The story takes place awhile after the event of No More Heroes 2, with Travis Touchdown hiding out playing video games when Badman arrives to avenge the death of his daughter, Bad Girl (from the first game). During the battle, the two are sucked into a video game console and they must work together through six games to escape.
This marks the first time in the franchise to include multiplayer, albeit local co-op. Thanks to the 4:3 display, you are able to see your character’s hub and weapons on the side screen. In the event you want to switch characters all your stats will transfer over.
There are different game varieties and collectables in which the game gives a huge shout out to all the indie games available. There are coins you earn from defeating enemies as well as Aztech and Unreal coins. Theses help you purchase shirts that have the locales of indie games, from my game of the year (2064 Read Only Memories), to my editors anticipated game (Wargoove). More than likely you’ve played one of these games in the store to purchase the shirts, including Unreal shirts. Sadly, because of the top-down and side view you can barely make out the character’s shirt.
One of the drawbacks is that with the hack-and-slash there are moments where it feels like the level has overstayed its welcome and has you in an endless gauntlet with multiple enemies, with many that are the same with just color palette swaps, but I feel this was intentional.
If you want more understanding of what happened before the events of Travis Strikes Again, there is a visual novel done in the style of MS-DOS that explains how Travis got hold of the legendary Death Drive MK-II gaming console. Also, you can collect pages from a gaming magazine that explains the console and the games you’re in, including a code to help you out in certain situations. How I miss gaming magazines.
All of the witty writing the series is known for is back and it doesn’t skip a beat, from taking jabs at the gaming industry, fans, and critics, to calling out a certain Marvel character saying that he started talking to the camera (audience) way before him. Since this game is story-based, once you beat it, you have little reason to come back, but I do like the change of pace seeing how this is meant to be a side game and not a full sequel.
The soundtrack is decent and fits the mood perfectly of different video game genres. With the levels representing from retro, MS-DOS, and early 3D games, the little touches in music and sound effects gives you the feel that the small crew worked hard to make it feel like these levels from different eras of gaming. While the characters speak, it’s very little when they do (mostly in the opening cutscene), it’s how you remember them with the voice actors reprising their roles. Most of the dialogue is relegated to text, which I thought was genius since retro games used text due to the game’s limitation at the time, so it didn’t bother me.
Similar Games Liked:
No More Heroes (Wii)
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii)