There's a new No More Heroes game, and it's as bizarre as you'd expect from Suda51. While Travis Strikes Back is technically a spin-off rather than a proper No More Heroes 3, it does throw some important new characters into the mix, brings back old favorites, and even hints at where the series might go next.
So here's a quick rundown of Travis Strikes Back: No More Heroes.
It All Starts With A Bad Man
Seven years since the events of No More Heroes 2, Travis Touchdown has gone into seclusion to leave the assassin life. He gets a trailer in the woodlands of Texas, where he spends his time playing video games, until an assassin by the name of Badman comes after him. Badman aims to avenge his daughter Bad Girl, who Travis offed in the first No More Heroes.
Their battle gets cut short, however, by the activation of the Death Drive Mk-II. We learn a little later that the Death Drive Mk-II is a one-of-a-kind video game console that became an urban legend because it was never released. Travis has the only one and there are also only six games, called Death Balls, in existence. Like the Dragon Balls, legend has it that beating the six games will grant the player's wish.
It's unclear if Badman brought the first Death Ball to Travis or if he already had it, but their battle knocks the ball into the console, powering it on and physically sucking the men into the game. (UPDATE: A patch to the game added a new opening cinematic that shows Badman getting the first Death Ball from none other than Killer7!) From then on, the two men work together to conquer the game worlds and collect the Death Balls. Bad Man hopes to use the wish to bring his daughter back, and Travis is just in it for the thrills.
The Death Drive Games
After being pulled into the console, the men learn that the Death Drive Mk-II was created by Dr. Juvenile. The mysterious doctor seems to have a wicked yet stylish taste that Travis totally agrees with. She teaches them the ropes and informs them that the system is bugged. These bugs are the enemies players fight.
The first ball is Electric Thunder Tiger II, a futuristic action game that's sort of like Mega Man with an industrial aesthetic. It turns out the game has already been beaten. The hero, Electro Triple Star, now rules the city but is alone. Travis and Badman give him the thrill of one last battle.
The second game is Life Is Destroy, a puzzle game that seems based on adventure games and live-action fare like Night Trap. There the men encounter Mr. Doppelganger, a deranged serial killer who wants to clean up the "garbage" of the neighborhood. Mr. Doppelganger is based on an actual killer in Travis' world, one that Juvenile had a fascination with.
Third is Coffee & Doughnuts, which despite the name is a revenge story about a blind prince in a post-apocalyptic world. He too has completed his game, and now wants to end his life. Travis and Badman put him to rest through battle.
Golden Dragon GP breaks up the pattern by being a racing game. It's set in futuristic Japan where virtual bike racing is all the rage. Travis wins enough races to take on and defeat the champ, Smoking King.
The fifth ball is unique in that it's unfinished. When Travis and Badman enter, they find platforms of floating polygons and only one path to walk on. Following it leads to a build of Killer Marathon, an Astroid-style arcade game. There's no way to actually win it, and Travis muses that Juvenile must have been a fan back in the day.
Sixth is supposed to be an open-world RPG called Serious Moonlight. But we learn that Juvenile was too ambitious, wanting a game on a scale that it wasn't possible. She fired the dev team and turned the Serious Moonlight Death Ball into a secret project, a sequel to a game that really exists, Suda51's own Shadows Of The Damned. The boss, Eight Hearts, promises to find his partner and return, teasing a sequel to SoTD.
The Truth Behind The Death Balls
Once the sixth stage is cleared, the Death Balls gather and summon a tiger. It remarks that one of the balls is a fake, probably the Killer Marathon one, but doesn't really care and grants the wish anyway. With that, Bad Girl is brought back... as a puppy. Yes, Badman gets his daughter back as a dog. Travis is unaffected by this as he's more concerned with finding the last real Death Ball.
Up until this point, Travis' search for the balls has been chronicled in Travis Strikes Again, a text-based narrative mode. His worldwide search for the balls is mostly full of meta jokes and weird characters, but it does provide some backstory on Dr. Juvenile.
She developed the Death Drive Mk-II for the CIA. Its intended purpose was to read human data and create a copy. Sort of like a 3D printer for humans. The CIA could then use these clones as an amoral, unending army. Juvenile saw the obvious danger in that idea and hated it. She filled the machine with bugs so it could never be used and created one last Death Ball that sends the user directly into CIA headquarters.
It's also implied that Juvenile somehow knew Travis would be the one to find the Death Drive. Heeding the call, Travis goes to the CIA and finds a mysterious machine. He also finds Juvenile's consciousness. He sympathizes with her desire for people to simply play her games, and then puts an end to her and the Death Drive with her.
Travis then enters the odd machine. This sends him to an 8-bit version of Mars where he discovers the Mk-I Death Drive creator. This man suggests Travis live a carefree life on Mars with him. Travis declines, saying he's already resolved to deal with the baggage of his life. The man kills him for this, sending Travis back to reality and ending the game.
After the credits roll, Travis is visited by Shinobu. His old friend warns him that more assassins will come, and he remarks that he's itching for some action.