Find out how Suda51 is capturing childhood memories in Travis Strikes Again
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Goichi 'Suda51' Suda hasn't shared much from Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes since its gameplay reveal earlier this year, but we spoke to him in Kyoto to discover his influences for the new game.
Goichi 'Suda51' Suda is no stranger to the cult popularity that follow his projects, Killer7 and No More Heroes, which have been praised for their incredible style and intuitive gameplay. It's understandable, then, that plenty of fans were disappointed when he announced his next game Travis Strikes Back: No More Heroes.
"I know fans want No More Heroes 3, and there's still interest on our side in making that as well," Suda51 says when we sit down with him. "But we got an offer to try and make a game for the Wii U, and thats where this project got started. That's what we're focusing on now, after moving to the Switch."
Travis Strikes Back: No More Heroes is an action-adventure title where Travis Touchdown gets transported into the Death Drive MK-II, a demonic video game console, after the previous events of No More Heroes 2. While in the console, he must navigate through six different worlds based on games that Suda51 grew up with, each sporting a different type of gameplay style.
"All six games are built from the ground up," Suda51 says. "While the action sequences featured in the trailer connect everything, we've done a lot to make sure different gameplay types are varied and balanced."
While there's been some confusion around what the varying gameplay styles in Travis Strikes Again will consist of, Suda51 confirmed that they all originate from his favorite childhood inspirations. New games, like Hyper Light Drifter and Hotline Miami, will be featured on shirts in the game as part of a partnership between Suda51 and various indie studios. "It would have been great to do more with these great modern indie games," he says. "However we can't keep checking in with other dev teams while we're working on the game to make sure everything is right. We wanted complete control."
A blast from the past
While much of the gameplay we've seen has focused on the top-down action segments that connect the different worlds, we do have an idea of what the other segments will look and play like. Action, racing and puzzler sections were named in the most recent trailer: Killer Marathon, Golden Dragon GP, and Life is Destroy respectively.
"We're not ready to show what these look like just yet, since we're still ironing things out and working on balancing mechanics," Suda51 explains. "We can say, though, that they're inspired by games like Gauntlet, Smash TV, and Zero4 Champ."
Suda51 confirmed that these new experiences would be modern takes on these classic games, with signature Suda51 style added on top. It's also the first time we've gotten more insight into how the racing segment will play, even if the visual style doesn't resemble the Zero4 Champ series created by Yutaka Kaminaga in 1991.
Zero4 Champ is a series of eight games released on Super Famicom, PC, Playstation and other platforms over an 11 year period that are based on Japanese drag racing. The games are known for their RPG elements, simulation gameplay, and anime-esque storylines. Although they were only released in Japan – apart from a fan-made flash game dubbed Zero4 Extreme that dropped in 2005 – the racing series is known for its wide range of sport-grade Japanese cars and extensive customisable options. Suda51 wasn't ready to reveal what elements from the classic racer would make their way over to Travis's next adventure, but we do know that the segment will feature it's own boss battle.
Even though these pseudo titles are based on games that Suda51 played while growing up, he's also taking notes from the indie developers he's partnered with. "Being surrounded by all the independent developers at different conferences has really shown me a lot about development," Suda51 says. "I like to think some of the games I've made have an indie style, especially the different segments here."
Signature Suda51 style
Both No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2 had fantastic gameplay, and an even greater sense of style, with varying character designs and narrative twists. It's this style that has helped Suda51 grow to such prominence, with fans from every corner of the world waiting for his next game.
That's also what makes the concept of Travis Strikes Back: No More Heroes exciting – Suda51 has created over seven different mini-games within this larger story. "It"s challenging," he says. "We spend a lot of time just seeing if the mechanics can work in one part of the game, all while making sure it doesn't overshadow a different segment. A lot is getting left out."
The gameplay demo that's been shown off at every gaming convention from Bitsummit in Kyoto to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, hasn't convinced players of the game’s potential just yet. "We still have a lot of work to do," Suda51 acknowledges. "We've been taking a lot of feedback from people who've played the demo, and are making adjustments based off that."
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes doesn't have a firm release date yet, though later this year is the goal. "We want to save some secrets for people to explore in the full game so we won't reveal everything ahead of time," Suda51 adds. "There are plenty of tidbits left to get shown off when the game comes out later this year."