During the big reveal event for the Nintendo Switch, Goichi Suda (aka Suda51) was brought out onto the stage to tease a new project for the system. Though the project starred Travis Touchdown, protagonist of No More Heroes, the franchise's name was never mentioned, which led to some confusion. During Nintendo's recent Nindies Showcase video, Suda51 returned to deliver the first real details surrounding the game, and the game was finally ordained as a true No More Heroes entry.

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is the first game that Suda51 has directed in a decade, and his enthusiasm shines through when you speak with the energetic director about the project. Though he is unable to discuss too many details, the founder of Grasshopper Manufacture and director of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes sat down to chat about the project and give some hints about what might be waiting for players when the game launches in 2018.

What was the reason behind having the game introduced without the No More Heroes name?

For the Switch event, I spoke a lot with Nintendo beforehand and worked out how we should announce it and what exactly I wanted to announce. So I decided that first, we didn't want to say this is a No More Heroes game; we wanted to put the spotlight on the fact that Travis is coming back. This is a Travis game... just think about that for now. As far as the actual title of the game and how it relates to the No More Heroes series, I wanted to wait for a bigger chance – for example, the [Nindies Spotlight video] – to properly announce what exactly the game is going to be and the exact title and everything.

What was it like to be a part of that Switch event?

I was able to get a really big reaction from everyone, and I received a lot of compliments from friends and acquaintances, so that was really great. Pretty much right as the event ended, I got a call from my friend [Atsushi] Inaba from Platinum Games and he said, "I just called to say that I saw your thing and that was really great. You did a great job and that was awesome. Bye!" and that was pretty much it. [laughs] But I got a lot of those phone calls and emails right after the event ended so I was really happy about that.

For the Switch event, there was actually a script and everyone was supposed to go by the script, but I was like, "screw it," and ad libbed the thing. [laughs] I had a simultaneous interpreter who was working on it, and I kind of caused a lot of trouble for that guy by completely going off-script and screwing the guy up. [laughs] Afterwards, I went backstage and everyone at Nintendo was like, "Don't worry about it. That was great! We liked what you did." Just earlier I met the interpreter from the Switch event and said, "I want to apologize. I'm sorry about that. I know I caused a lot of problems for you." Then I gave him a little present to say I'm sorry. I'm glad I was able to meet the guy and apologize to him. I'm really happy that I got to meet him and apologize directly because I kind of felt bad ever since that happened. [laughs] I've been wanting to apologize the whole time!

One thing that was surprising in the reveal during the Nindies video was that it doesn't seem like it's traditional No More Heroes gameplay. The focus is more on the retro games. Can you explain further how the gameplay works?

The No More Heroes franchise has typically been that Travis is an assassin and he's fighting other assassins. It's kind of like a fun slash 'em up kind of game. There will be parts like that in this game as well, but this new game is focusing mainly on Travis going further inside the [retro game system]. Inside the game, there are going to be six different games that Travis can enter into. As you said, they're kind of like retro style games. Each of those kind of retro style games has its own set of rules and I wanted to focus on how Travis would interact with the individual rules and the individual vibe from each game. So this time, the gameplay is going to be based on those six individual games and how Travis fights through those, and how he's able to get through them.

Can you discuss what kinds of retro games you'll be exploring in this?

We're still trying to keep it wrapped up with regards to what kinds of games will be in the game. One thing I can say is that there's going to be a game console called the Death Drive MK-II, and they use that console to go into the games. One of the games that I'm really looking forward to putting in is the sort of old-school vector scan type game where Travis goes directly into the game and he's basically playing his own vector scan game. That's one of the games I've been wanting to put in for a while, so that's one of the highlights of the six different retro games that you'll play. As far as the other ones, I can't really say yet.

Are you reaching out to other developers for help on genres you haven't worked on before?

I haven't really talked to anyone about that yet, but there will be several different genres within the game. For example, if we put in an RPG type game, I've never done an RPG myself. Also, I don't really have many friends who are RPG creators either, so when it comes to an RPG-type game, it could be a bit of a problem. "How do I do this? Who do I talk to?" I don't even know who to talk to. [laughs] So I haven't spoken to anyone yet, but it's probably going to come up in the future. I've got plenty of friends who make really violent-type games, but not really any that make RPGs, so I'm kind of in trouble there. [laughs]

With the game focusing so much on retro gameplay, which a lot people immediately associate with Nintendo's older systems, does that make the Switch the perfect fit for this new concept of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes?

While I’m making the new title with so many retro game elements, I’m sort of tracing along the history of video games. So when I grew up, I saw the vector scan games and I was really inspired by that sort of thing, so I was kind of going back and looking at those like, “This is how those games were made back in the day and this is how I’m going to make them now.” I’ve been looking at how Nintendo made games were made and how they’re made now and the differences between now and then. One thing that I’ve noticed is that over the years, Nintendo’s games have been really loved by people all over the world. One thing that I hope is that now that I’m bringing out a No More Heroes game on a brand new Nintendo platform is that some of that love with sort of rub off on No More Heroes because I’m bringing it out on a platform by a company that everyone loves and I can get some of those people to start loving the series as well. I’m really happy to be able to work so closely with a company that has so much history in video games and someone who has pretty much been around since the very beginning and really cares about and knows games.

 

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is set to launch on Switch in 2018.