PAX West 2017 has come and gone with plenty of exciting news for Nintendo Switch owners. Among the announcements was the reveal of the first trailer for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, the latest title from Grasshopper Manufacture launching exclusively on Nintendo Switch in 2018. A lot was revealed about this upcoming release, but between the trailers, interviews and press releases, there still seems to be some confusion about what exactly Travis Strikes Again has in store for its players.
To help clear up some of the confusion, Nintendo Life contributors Dan Thompson and Ron DelVillano were lucky enough to catch up with Grasshopper Manufacture founder and Travis Strikes Back director Suda51 to talk about No More Heroes, indie developers, and even some Breath of the Wild.
Why did you want to bring this new No More Heroes title to Nintendo Switch?
I never had any intention of bringing Travis back on a non-Nintendo console to begin with and when the Wii U came out I was busy with other projects, so the timing didn’t work out. When I first saw the Switch back when it was still the NX I thought, “Yeah, this is the console I’m bringing Travis back on.”
Why did you want to work with indie developers on the newest No More Heroes game? Are these games that you’re a fan of? Are you trying to spotlight smaller developers?
It wasn’t so much that I wanted to put the spotlight on other developers, but there are two main reasons. One reason is because I personally am a fan of these games and these creators and for me, these indie creators are superstars. Not just to me, but to Travis as well. I feel that Travis would definitely be a fan of these games. These are games that I think are awesome, games that Travis thinks are awesome, so let’s see if we can do something together. Again, as opposed to trying to put the spotlight on them, it’s that I personally and Travis as a character would definitely want to work with these guys. That’s where the whole idea for the collaboration came from. This time at PAX I’ve seen a bunch of cool games and creators and talked to a bunch of them and so far it’s been going really well as far as getting people together to join in the collaboration.
Has the full roster for Travis Strikes Again been decided, or are you still in the recruiting process?
It hasn’t all been totally finalized yet. That’s not to say that I haven’t found people to collaborate with; there’s actually a bunch of them, but I’m going to keep finding new creators, new games, pretty much right up until the 11th hour just before the game is actually released. If I find games and people that are willing to work with me that I want to work with, I want to put as many in the game as possible. There’s basically no limit, it’s an infinite space that I’ve got set up for these people and games to collaborate with. At this point, there have been 15 games that have been decided so far.
The title of the game is Travis Strikes Again instead of Travis Strikes Back. Was that a conscious linguistic decision? Is this not a revenge story for Travis?
There are actually two things that inspired me to use this title. One is a song by The Smiths called Bigmouth Strikes Again, and the other is the comic The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
You’ve worked from a variety of genres, such as action games, visual novels, and wrestling games. Can we expect Travis Strikes Again to explore different genres?
Obviously it’s going to be an action game, so that’s one genre that it has to cover. As for the rest, all I can say is “maybe” at this point.
Will gameplay reflect the indie games that appear in Travis Strikes Again, or will gameplay be in the style of early No More Heroes titles?
One thing that a lot of people seem to misunderstand is that there are definitely games inside this game, but they’re not actually the indie games that I’m collaborating with. They’re actually completely original games that exist in the world of No More Heroes, but they’re not existing games in the real world. In Travis Strikes Again, there is a game console called the Death Drive MK-II that uses these objects that we are calling Tiger Balls as games rather than cartridges or discs. There are six of these games that exist in the world.
For more backstory, the Death Drive MK-II was originally created by a character named Dr. Juvenile who works for a company called Hazure. She created this console and these games, and the console was announced but never actually put on sale because it turned out to be super-dangerous. The reason is because people who played this console ended up getting sucked into the world of the game they were playing and dying. There are six of these games that exist, and there is an urban legend – that Travis is trying to find out whether or not is true – that if you collect and clear all six of the games that exist, a tiger god will come down and grant you one wish. Travis is trying to work out whether or not that’s true, so he has to collect all of the games and beat them all to see if this console and the god that is attached to it will actually come down and grant his wish.
As for the games that you play, the fundamental gameplay for each game is pretty much the same. The genre of each game is different, but the fundamental gameplay is the same. The games that Travis plays in the game actually have nothing to do with the indie games themselves. The indie game collaboration is basically what we’re referring to as the “t-shirt collaboration.” The indie games that I’ve been going around and collecting to collaborate with, they’re going to be featured on Travis’s t-shirts. At this point there are 15 games, and Travis will have as many t-shirts that you can switch back and forth for however many games I’m able to collect before the game goes on sale.
Are the indie developers involved in the development process of Travis Strikes Again?
At this point they’re not, but that’s not to say that they’re not going to be. There are definitely some characters and some elements of certain games that, if possible, I’m thinking I’d like to incorporate into the game in some way. Right now, the only thing that’s definitely decided is the t-shirt collaboration, but we’re definitely thinking of deeper ways to collaborate with the indie creators if possible. But that has not at all been decided.
With the inclusion of the Death Drive MK-II in this new game, does that mean we can expect some crossover with other Grasshopper Manufacture titles such as Let It Die?
It’s not so much that there will be elements from other games in Travis Strikes Again, but the whole Death Drive mythology is something that I’ve been thinking of for a while now. The Death Drive 128 came out in Let It Die, this is the Death Drive MK-II. To give you a bit of backstory on this; the mythology is that one day, at some random arcade, I believe it was in Massachusetts, or somewhere in the States, the Death Drive MK-II just sort of appeared. It was kind of like a phantom game machine and no one knew what to make of it. Then, one day it just disappeared and it was replaced with the Death Drive 128 from Let It Die. The Death Drive MK-II was sort of the predecessor of the Death Drive 128. It’s not exactly that it’s from Let It Die or Travis Strikes Again – it’s that the whole Death Drive mythology is something that I’m thinking up and considering parallel to a lot of my other titles. This is something that I want to run with in Let It Die, Travis Strikes Again, and future titles as well.
In previous No More Heroes games, each boss fight felt unique based on the various assassins that you came in contact with. Can we expect something similar with the bosses in Travis Strikes Again? If so, how might those play?
There are six different games that are going to appear in this game, so at the very least there will be six very different, really unique boss fights. The art and general aesthetic of the game is going to be really awesome, so I want everyone to look forward to that.
All of the new characters that are appearing in this game were all made by a new collaborator of mine who is an artist from the UK named Boneface. The characters in the game are sort of a collaborative effort between Yūsuke Kozaki and Boneface.
There are theories going around that the antagonist from the trailer is possibly Bad Girl from the original No More Heroes game’s father or a relative. Could you shed some light on that?
I can’t comment on that.
But that’s totally right.
What are the chances that Travis enters the world of Fire Pro Wrestling?
Of course it’s possible. There’s also a high possibility that characters from the world of Fire Pro will be coming to the world of No More Heroes as well.
When you’re not making video games, what are some of your favourite games to play?
Right now it’s, of course, Zelda. Last week I managed to collect all 900 Korok seeds. It was very hard, but every night I was adventuring everywhere. I decided that I was going to try to get all of them before I left for PAX.
Is there anything else that the Nintendo Life audience should know about Travis Strikes Again or about Suda51?
One thing I want to say is for all the young gamers out there who maybe haven’t experienced No More Heroes yet. I want you to go into your parents’ closet or the garage or wherever it might be hiding, and pull out their old Wii. Go somewhere they sell used games and buy No More Heroes 1 and 2 for the Wii. Not for the PlayStation, but for Wii because the original games that Grasshopper made are the ones that came out on the Wii. Go get the hardware, go get those games, and experience going like this [gestures to imitate swinging Wii Remote]! Then go to town and rub one out [gestures suggestively] and really get into the game! Really fully experience the game and immerse yourself into the world of No More Heroes and look forward to this new one coming out too.
One final message to any possible fans is something to be careful about. I found out that, since announcing this title, the price of used copies of No More Heroes 1 and 2 has gotten really expensive. So, if you’re going to get them used, go get them right away before they become too expensive. Hurry up, get your copies, and play the sh*t out of it!
Please note that, due to speaking through a translator, some of the text here has been edited for clarity, but the content has not been altered. Thanks again to Suda51 and his translator James Mountain for taking the time to speak with us!