'Travis Strikes Again' puts 15 indie titles in one Suda51 game

Jessica Conditt

Nintendo went all out this week showcasing a slew of high-profile games heading to the Switch, 3DS and 2DS -- titles like Doom, Wolfenstein II and Pokemon Gold. But, just last month, Nintendo was all about indie love. That's when the company and renowned ultra-violent game director Goichi "Suda51" Suda revealed Travis Strikes Again, the third title in the No More Heroes series. And, this time around, he's brought 15 indie video game creators along for the ride.

Suda51's studio, Grasshopper Manufacture, debuted No More Heroes on the Wii in 2008 as a pop-culture-infused, cel-shaded, hack-and-slash adventure game starring Travis Touchdown, an anime-obsessed assassin with a lot of sass. And a glowing beam katana. Of course.

The game took advantage of the Wii's motion controls, a revolutionary input system back in those days. It became a quick cult hit and was followed by a PlayStation 3 port and a sequel, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, in 2010. That one was also exclusive to the Wii. By 2011, Suda51 said he was eager to release a third title in the series, but it wasn't going to happen any time soon.

Eight years later, Suda51 is bringing the franchise back with Travis Strikes Again, a new game exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. The third No More Heroes installment stars Travis Touchdown and it will feature motion-based mechanics, as usual. But this time around, Suda51 decided to expand his vision: He collaborated with more than a dozen independent studios to feature their own games inside Travis Strikes Again. Travis and his nemesis are sucked into a possessed gaming console and forced to battle their way through big-name indie titles including Hotline Miami and Shovel Knight.

Those are the only two confirmed games with starring roles in Travis Strikes Again, but Suda51 says to expect more announcements over the coming months. He's excited about the growing indie industry -- he's spoken at conferences like BitSummit, Tokyo's annual independent gaming festival -- and Travis Strikes Again is a testament to the potential he sees in these smaller-scale games.

(Grasshopper Manufacture)

We asked Suda51 all about his recent rush of indie appreciation, his commitment to the Switch (and Nintendo in general), and the importance of Travis Touchdown in his career. The following interview has been edited for clarity:

It's been 10 years since No More Heroes -- how does it feel to return to this series?

It really feels great to finally return to the No More Heroes series. Over the past 10 years, I'd been wanting to revisit the character of Travis Touchdown and see how he's been doing, as well as to reintroduce him and the series itself to the newer generation of gamers who may not have had the chance to meet him back during the original run. With the unveiling of the Nintendo Switch and all its capabilities and features, this felt like the perfect time to do that.

Why is Travis Strikes Again a Switch exclusive?

I've been working with Nintendo since the first two No More Heroes games, and they have always offered an immense amount of support and have always been willing to allow me to try new things and make the games I want to make. Just as the Wii was revolutionary in its time, with its motion controls and its various features, the Switch is also a revolutionary console, and I feel that the Switch and Nintendo are really the most "punk" console and maker out there, doing things that nobody else has done yet.

(Grasshopper Manufacture)

On top of that, as always, Nintendo has been extremely supportive and helpful throughout development of Travis Strikes Again as they were with the first two titles. And in addition to the ease and comfort of working with them, I also simply felt that the Switch would be the perfect platform on which to bring Travis back, from the first time I saw it demonstrated back when it was still called the "NX."

Aside from Hotline Miami, which other indie games will be featured in Travis Strikes Again?

While I can't get into specifics just yet, at the moment we've got around 15 games altogether, including Hotline Miami and Shovel Knight -- which was revealed at the Nindies Night event during PAX -- with which we're going to collaborate. More games will be announced in the coming months, and hopefully that number may also grow as well.

Why did you decide to collaborate with indie developers for Travis Strikes Again?

I decided to work with indie developers because, not only am I a huge fan of indie games, I feel that Travis would definitely be a huge fan as well. You can see him playing Hotline Miami in the trailer, and if you look closely you can see that he's actually really close to beating the game -- that's how much of a fan he is.

I also wanted to work with indie developers because I still see myself and Grasshopper as indie creators, which is how we began, and I wanted to show my support for these guys and help get the word out, as I feel that what they're doing is truly great and they really deserve all the recognition they can get.