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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition is a satirical action game for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. It's a title filled with humor aimed at mature players. Its protagonist is more of a villain than a hero; he's a smug and narcissistic assassin who gets sucked into the worlds of several long-lost games where he fights digital characters with a glowing sword. Dialogue is filled with strong profanity; references to sex, drugs, and alcohol; and graphic descriptions of brutal murders. Several environments are coated in bright red blood, and a live-action sequence shows a man with his throat slit, blood spilling from the wound. The satirical script is filled with jokes containing a wide variety of pop culture references, from other games and game makers to film and TV shows. The story is designed to poke fun at elements of western gaming culture by depicting stereotypical gamer fixations, including obsessions with violence and sex and showing gamer arrogance at its worst. Whether players understand that all of this is meant to be satire will depend on their awareness of the way gaming and gamers are often perceived outside of gaming communities and on their knowledge of the game makers' intent. The Complete Edition also includes the downloadable content (DLC) packs that were released, which added items like new characters, costumes, and story chapters.
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What's it about?
TRAVIS STRIKES AGAIN: NO MORE HEROES COMPLETE EDITION sees series protagonist Travis Touchdown, an aggressive, abrasive, and arrogant killer, hiding out after having won infamy in a competition to crown the world's greatest assassin. In his seclusion, he encounters Bad Man, father of a woman he once assassinated. The pair become reluctant partners as they are transported into several mysterious long-lost games -- including one exploring a neighborhood being terrorized by a serial killer -- designed for a demonic game console that was never officially released. Play is split between venturing into the real world via a retro, monochromatic interactive novel in search of games to play on the console and existing as a character within those games, where Travis (and Bad Man, if playing in co-op mode) take on hordes of glitchy minion foes en route to fighting each game's final boss. As the game goes on, Travis' level and attack strength grow, and players are given the option to equip discovered mod chips that grant special moves and abilities. As in previous No More Heroes games, the story and action are meant to satirize western games and game culture, with Travis serving as the embodiment of a narcissistic, overconfident, violence-obsessed gamer. The Complete Edition adds the downloadable content of the Black Dandelion and Bubblegum Fatale packs, which gives access to the characters of Shinobu Jacobs and Bad Girl. Each character has their own skills, new chapters in the story to fight through, and new costumes for the characters to wear.
Is it any good?
Even if you're aware that what you're experiencing is supposed to be a form of satire, something still doesn't feel quite right -- and it goes beyond the game's lackluster action. The combat in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition is simple, repetitive, and not particularly satisfying. You'll fight groups of generic enemies -- some of whom will put up more resistance than others -- using a mix of light and heavy attacks as well as the occasional dodge and special attack. The individual games Travis plays don't last long -- about an hour each, if you're playing on normal difficulty -- but even that's long enough for a sense of tedium to set in. The hacking and slashing just isn't very entertaining, which works against the story argument that gamers are supposedly lured to love violent games because they're so much fun. Additional elements baked into each of these games-within-a-game -- such as solving neighborhood mazes and a drag racing mini-game -- are just as basic and underdeveloped as the combat.
Potentially even more problematic is that Travis just isn't likable. Granted, we're not really supposed to like this capable but conceited jerk so much as understand what he's meant to represent. But loathing the character you're playing as makes for a long slog, even in a game as short as this (around eight hours). The Complete Edition adds more content with two new characters to play, along with new clothing and skills. Unfortunately, you have to fight your way through the game to access this content, and the main story might not be enjoyable enough for some players to want to check out these extras. Bright spots, few as they may be, come in a kind of retro visual styling -- the long-lost console and games Travis uses were designed decades ago -- as well as some inside jokes for passionate gamers, including references to indie games and designers, some of which are delightfully obscure. But a few clever cultural references do not good satire make. It's debatable whether the No More Heroes series was ever an effective lampoon of western games and gamer culture or simply one more log for the fire it professed to parody, but this latest entry really misses the mark.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition affected by the fact that the game's supposed to be satire? Is it possible to use violence in a game as a means of satirizing our culture's seeming obsession with violence within the medium?
What are some of the positive aspects of modern gaming culture? Are there any negative elements?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: October 17, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: November 8, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.