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THE VT » Blog Archive » No More Heroes: The Sexual Education of Travis Touchdown

No More Heroes: The Sexual Education of Travis Touchdown


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No More Heroes is a gem of a third party game on the Wii, a console that is generally starved for them. I’ve played through the game twice now, and debated for a significant amount of time with a number of other people about the themes and the “point” of the game. Debate about the themes of No More Heroes were much more in-depth than I had initially expected, and maybe the reason that these debates occurred at all is that nobody expected them. The game carries itself as a bizarre stylized videogame nostalgia filled beat-em-up, and it many ways, it is. Underneath the shmup dream sequences and the anime girl game over screen, there is commentary about various societal issues. Suda51 stated himself that while Killer 7 was primarily a commentary on politics in Japan, No More Heroes would be more focused on societal issues. These are seen most clearly in the assassins that Travis must kill. There is one theme beyond this that is also worth discussing: the sexual maturation of the protagonist Travis Touchdown.


As I warned earlier, I have beaten the game twice now, so some of what I say may seem spoilerish. I will attempt to minimize this. There will be a segment at the end, fully censored, that contains the spoilers and their relevance to the discussion for those that have also finished the game.

The game is filled with sexuality. Every phone call from Sylvia (and many of the cut scenes involving her), a delightful phone call at the end of each assassination mission (Travis is obsessed with pornography), the method of recharging the lightsaber’s battery (mimicking male masturbation), and the ten ranked assassins all have a weapon that is undeniably phallic, some more than others. The placement of sexuality as such a central and recurring theme of the game isn’t likely there just for laughs.

As soon as you defeat the first assassin in the introductory mission, you learn of Travis’s first motivation for ascending to the top rank: to have sex with Sylvia. Juvenile, it might seem, and after having gone through this game multiple times, I am confident that this was not the result of poor writing or an attempt to be wacky and cool, but rather, it is an accurate reflection of Travis’s character at that point in time. As you play as Travis, and move up the ranks, his behavior does begin to change, ever so gradually. While some attempted to draw parallels between killing the assassins (particularly the female ones) and having sex with them, I believe this approach is far to direct, but it does have some merits that I borrowed. It is worth watching his behavior towards female assassins, as these are the most apparent markers for his transition. The approach to each one is significantly different than the last in terms of his behavior, his speech, and the climax of the fight. He is initially reluctant to fight the female assassins, and has the most telling bits of interaction with each one. And each one of them represents a step forward for him, particularly the rank 6th battle, where for the first time Travis shows compassion towards his assassin opponent. The female assassins taunt him, with quips such as “What’s that in your hand? A toy?,” or “Still just a little bud.” The leap from weapon to penis is made all the more easier by the recharging animation.

There is a complete transformation of the character by the time you get to the end of the game. Travis starts as a geeky otaku, touching his anime girl posters, and watching videotapes on how to please women. As he progresses through the rankings, and in particular, the battles against the female assassins, you see his interactions with primarily Sylvia change from a sort of obsession to a legitimate relationship between people. He is capable of recognizing the female assassins as people, not just numbers. At the final battle, this theme of love and sexuality becomes the most apparent, but I don’t want to spoil it.

The following is more detailed, but rife with spoilers. Don’t read unless you’ve beaten the game.

First, Travis’s addiction to pornography rented from Beefhead videos. Two tapes in particular, belonging to the “How to Please a Woman” series , really stand out. There is also the reference to Travis taping himself humping his own pillow as if it were a woman. By the end of the game, he is actually in danger of losing his membership there. In a sense, losing his dependency on this artificial sexual interaction. Shinobu’s taunts of “What’s that in your hand, a toy?”, and Travis’s inability to kill her, stating that “Yeah, when she grows up, then I’ll kill her.” It is important to note than this “mercy” is not mercy at all, but rather him masking his inability to kill a woman. The sequence after Holly’s battle, where she kills herself because Travis won’t is the point of Travis’s most apparent transformation. He stands there holding her body, and requests her name. This is the first time that Travis addresses an assassin by anything other than their number or some generic phrase like “old man.” The burial sequence, where Travis tells her that he loved her soul is also certainly noteworthy, primarily for the “I loved your soul” quote. After the battle with Harvey, there is a scene where Travis and Sylvia are behind the curtain, kissing. The entire battle is built around this “date” between Sylvia and Travis, and I don’t know if it was part of Sylvia’s ruse, or if she did this because she did have feeling for him. Speed Buster is a very unorthodox battle, but the kill sequence is special in that she permits him to kill her. This is the first time that Travis is capable of killing his female opponent, and the short conversation they have beforehand, where she wishes him the best, is the first of its sort. I will admit, I don’t know what time make of Bad Girl. The name, the dress, and the sexual position that she dies in, straddling Travis, says something, but I have difficulty seeing any change in Travis here. Approaching the final battle, Sylvia admits to Travis that she is in love with him. There isn’t any way to know whether he shares these feelings for her, but I do believe that by this point he is capable of it, whereas before he was simply not. Jeane, the final “assassin” of the game (ignoring Sir Henry, as he is optional) is fittingly the climax of the game. Jeane, dressed very provocatively, is Travis’s former lover and step-sister and was at one point a sex slave to Travis’s father. Having the game culminate with the battle against the last (and possibly first) romantic partner he he had been with is a nice touch. And it is clear that he never forgot about her, as evidenced by the photograph and the name of the cat. He kills her without hesitation, but also with a sense of understanding.

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