No More Heroes is not only a fantastic game, but a trailblazer for its time. Its innovation and creativity has impacted the industry to this day, and there are very few developers with as much passion for video games as Goichi Suda (Suda 51). Roughly a decade has passed since the original was released on the Nintendo Wii, and now Suda 51 has finally returned to the Writers and Directors chair for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes.
Let's start with the bad, the game is just not fun. It's a top-down hack and slash where the player fights waves of enemies until they reach the boss. The boss battles are special, but the trek to get to the battles is a chore. If you fight one enemy in the game, you have found them all. There is a lack of variety in the enemies, lack of variety in the combat, and lack of creativity in the fighting mechanics. Each stage takes about 20 to 30 minutes to get to the boss, and while there are puzzles and mini-games on the way, most of it is lackluster and boring combat.
However, everything else is amazing. While the game may not be fun to play, from the moment the game boots up, it is clear Suda 51 put his heart to make it the most unique game of 2019. Its direction is dynamic, tones are both subtle and extremely expressive, and the story has been given so much detail. It is its own unique style that no other games offer. Travis Strikes Again is very much a love-letter to video games of yesteryear, while also creating new ideas for the future.
The design of Travis Strikes Again creates so much emotion, that as the player goes through the game and completes each world, there is always something new on the horizon, and the levels only get better and better. The game likes to throw curve-balls in the way the player thinks about video games. One moment Travis Strikes Again is colorful, the next its monotone, and all the colors in between in the spectrum.
The music, while not the best in the series, still feels appropriate for the setting of the game. The sound department as a whole has a distinct computer style, not necessarily 8-bit, more retro 90s computer style, clearly reference to the many computer games Suda 51 played. The soundtrack ranges from 8-bit chiptunes to full orchestra composition, but the soundtrack as a whole feels complete. Never does a song feel like it belongs in another game. Every song feels like it belongs in Travis Strikes Again.
The sad truth is that the game is beautiful, but the experience going through the game is difficult. There is planned DLC for Travis Strikes Again, but after playing the game once, there is not a lot that will bring players back in. However, everything else that is in Travis Strikes Again is worth a playthrough, at least once. There is so much ingenuity in Travis Strikes Again that are in no other game, and that comes down to how personal Suda 51 makes his video games. No for everyone, but for those who can appreciate it, they will enjoy it.