It is with sound body and mind that I, Eric Francisco, am believing the newest so-called “leak” for the next add-on character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Say it with me: Travis Touchdown will be the 5th DLC fighter.
Because I have dreams, man, and you can’t take them away from me.
A 4chan post dating back to December 30, 2019 detailed an alleged breakdown of a Nintendo Direct that is expected to stream this month, in January 2020. The leak picked up additional steam on Twitter, where Smash fans debated its legitimacy.
The leak claims the Direct will reveal Nintendo’s Pokémon Home service, a port of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a remake of the Sega Saturn game Panzer Dragoon, a new Mario golf game, and the identity of the fifth character in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC Fighters Pass: Travis Touchdown, the anti-hero of Suda51’s video game series No More Heroes.
If all that sounds good, then we got some bad news. The leak’s credibility is in jeopardy, as on Tuesday Nintendo announced a Direct for January 9 that will focus on Pokémon. Upon learning this news, the Smash Bros. fan community collectively tore their hair out.
But the existence of a Pokémon Direct doesn’t mean Nintendo can’t have another, broader Direct in January, or even February. I’m getting my hopes up because if — and this is the biggest if in my Smash Bros. career — the leak is true, then I get to live out a dream I’ve had since 2008. Twelve years ago, after I first drew blood in the original No More Heroes on the Wii, I’ve wanted nothing more than for Travis Touchdown to disrupt Nintendo’s ultimate party game.
“But who is Travis Touchdown?” you ask. “And why does he look like Johnny Knoxville with a lightsaber?” Great questions. Here’s the rundown.
Who is Travis Touchdown?
Travis Touchdown is the anti-hero protagonist of the hack-and-slash game No More Heroes, released on the Nintendo Wii in 2008 along with its sequel No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle in 2010. The games were among the most violent on the family-focused Wii, and among the few to be rated M. A third game, No More Heroes III, will arrive on the Switch this year.
Set in the fictional California city of Santa Destroy, unemployed über geek Travis Touchdown wins a working “beam katana” in an internet auction. After accidentally becoming the 11th best assassin in the world, Travis is conned into fighting the top ten to survive and become number one.
No More Heroes was created and directed by auteur designer Goichi Suda, nicknamed “Suda51” (“Goichi” being “51” in Japanese), whose artistic voice resembles that of a Quentin Tarantino raised on Nintendo and pro wrestling than Sergio Leone. This is reflected in Travis himself, whose cheap motel apartment is littered with mecha model kits, pro wrestling masks, retro video games, a lazy cat, and an uncomfortable collection of anime girl statues.
The games themselves are brimming with references to pop culture. Its title is taken from the song “No More Heroes” by English punk band The Stranglers. Its premise mirrors the 1970 Alejandro Jodorowsky film El Topo. Much of the game’s cryptic dialogue contain oblique references to the gaming industry. And yes, it has lightsabers. Although obviously a nod to Star Wars, Suda51 has said the swords actually homage “the Schwartz” from Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs.
To achieve the brash, rough personality Suda51 imagined for his series’ lead, he regularly shared with his development team at Grasshopper Manufacture a clip of Johnny Knoxville having his nipple eaten by a baby alligator in 2002’s Jackass: The Movie. This led to Travis bearing a strong resemblance to the Dukes of Hazzard star, including his spiked hair and aviator shades.
Why Travis Touchdown needs to be in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Brash, arrogant, and a little too horny, Travis Touchdown is a character unlike anyone else in gaming, which makes him the missing piece of the Smash puzzle. His foul-mouthed chaotic energy makes him gaming’s Deadpool; entirely aware he’s a video game character, he believes he’s excused to indulge in the grotesque violence he gleefully dishes out. It’s a game, after all, and he wants to be number one.
Even his baked-in characteristics — the 21st-century ronin with wrestling moves — looks engineered just for Super Smash Bros. To imagine Travis beside icons Mario, Pikachu, and Kirby, isn’t just a hilarious collision of opposites, it’s a perfect fit. There’s just a sheer, inexplicable thrill seeing his personality rub like sandpaper against the wholesome Nintendo roster.
If Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a celebration of gaming, Travis’ inclusion is a nod towards the medium’s punk disrupter.
Will Travis appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?
Let’s be clear here: No one should believe “leaks” of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — especially from 4chan. Although leaks happen and some even pan out to be true (even then they appear to be lucky wild guesses), the continued development of the games is one of Nintendo’s best-kept secrets, mostly only due to circumstance: The games are developed by Bandai Namco in Minato, Tokyo, an impenetrable fortress that might as well be Narnia.
Even if the games were developed outside Japan, it is likely anyone working on them are subject to non-disclosure agreements. They risk losing employment (or worse) should they reveal any information, even anonymously.
Furthermore, there have been times when Suda51 himself confirmed Travis would not appear despite his own wishes. In 2018, during a livestream of the spin-off game Travis Strikes Again, Suda51 said Travis Touchdown is not in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. “Sorry,” Suda51 said in English, as if to make sure everyone was on the same page.
But what if things changed since 2018? One thing Smash fans learned in mid-2019 was the arrival of even more characters to the game beyond the initial five. Even if Travis isn’t Fighter #5, he still has a fighting chance.