Hands-on Impressions from Travis Strikes Again’s Black Dandelion DLC
We got some early hands-on time with Black Dandelion, the new DLC for Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, releasing later today. This update adds both free and paid content. First of all, new legendary t-shirts for Travis and Badman have been added for free. These shirts include games like Jet Set Radio, Deadly Premonition, and even Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
Next up, we have the paid content. The Black Dandelion DLC is included in the season pass, which comes with the physical copy of the game. It can also be purchased for digital copies for $9.99. The main feature of this content is the addition of the katana wielding assassin, Shinobu Jacobs, becoming the third playable character for the game. Additionally, Black Dandelion adds an all new text adventure, “Badman Strikes Back: No More Heroes”. This six part adventure dives into the origin of Shigeki Birkin, and how he became Badman.
Getting to the Shinobu DLC, we played around with the new character in some of the levels. Shinobu brings her own sense of style to the game, even adding two exclusive skill chips. The first skill chip is Gekkōken-Ran, a rapidfire flurry of sword strikes that requires mashing the button. The second skill ship, Isamiashi-Shinobu, allows Shinobu to charge a powerful kick in any direction.
Aside from the two exclusive skills, Shinobu will play almost identically to Travis and Badman. This can be a bit disappointing, but it’s expected considering the style of the game. What’s perhaps the most disappointing is the missing details. When entering a Death Drive Mk II game, only Travis and Badman are shown spiraling into the portal. While Shinobu herself comes with unique dialogue, completing a stage with her still goes to a Travis interrogation. There’s also a surprising lack of fan service as well, and fans of the series will notice it almost right away.
While it could be expected, Shinobu doesn’t enter stages in Terminator fashion like Travis or Badman. While the men enter naked and in a super-hero landing pose, Shinobu enters fully clothed and in a graceful display. What’s more interesting is the way that Shinobu saves her game. In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Shinobu would save by taking a shower. Since only toilets exist in Travis Strikes Again, it’s understandable that there is no shower, but instead, Shinobu’s screen cuts to noise when she saves. Why this change was made, it’s unclear, though it could be due to Nintendo publishing the physical copy of the game.
While the fan service isn’t necessary to enjoy the game, fans of Suda51 may be left perplexed. Considering games like Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer is Dead, it’s interesting that he held back on Black Dandelion. Regardless, Shinobu still comes with a brand new design that looks pretty nice. Sadly, she can’t change shirts like Travis and Badman, which is a bit of a missed opportunity. At least Kimberly Brooks returns to voice the character during gameplay segments.
While Shinobu adds two powerful skill chips, they aren’t perfect. Gekkōken-Ran, while strong, doesn’t stun stronger enemies unless it’s the final hit. It can also leave you wide open for a ranged attack. Isamiashi-Shinobu does stun, but it requires a lot of charging to be effective, and it has a pretty long recharge time. As a new character, Shinobu also starts at level 1, so it might take a while to power her up. You might have enough experience to push her to level 4 or 5, but not much more past that. Playing as Shinobu is basically like starting fresh.
Now, for the other portion of Black Dandelion, Badman Strikes Back: No More Heroes. Players can go to Badman’s car and start this text adventure right after finishing the game. All six parts are available from the beginning, and for the first viewing, it plays the entirety in one sitting. Depending on reading speed, it could take roughly 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
Badman Strikes Back is a pretty solid story, told in the same style as Travis Strikes Back. The plot dives into the past, starting with how Badman received his face injury. It also delves into how he became a killer, and how his daughter, Bad Girl, eventually followed in his footsteps. No More Heroes fans will likely enjoy the added backstory to the character. Even if you’re not up to speed with the games, the writing is solid and the music is pretty catchy.
It’s a bit surprising that Badman Strikes Back doesn’t take any opportunities to add more Suda51 cameos. Considering the character’s roots within the Killer7 narrative, it goes against expectations. At least it does add more depth to the battle between Bad Girl and Travis. Even without cameos, it’s a fun read, even if there’s no actual gameplay.
There’s not much else to say with the Black Dandelion content. Shinobu is a fun character to play as, but players shouldn’t expect a drastic change. Badman Strikes Back is a cool story, though it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t come with a gameplay segment. At least we’ll be getting a new stage expansion with Bubblegum Fatale when it releases late April. Feel free to read our review of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes to see what we thought of the base game. Owners of the game having trouble finding Travis’ cat Jeane can also use our handy guide. Are you ready to unleash Shinobu’s blade in Black Dandelion?