When it comes to licensed video games, especially those based on popular manga or anime, it is hard to discover ones that are good enough to recommend to others. Bandai Namco has consistently tried to work on licensed properties and the results are usually mixed. Some games are reasonably great, others are good, but most are average. It is always fascinating to see how they approach each property, and in the case of My Hero One’s Justice, it is one of the better games released by Bandai Namco this year.
If you are a fan of My Hero Academia, this is an enjoyable game to play since it offers a chance to control your favorite heroes. The story mode is decent with some fantastic fights. There is single-player content like online, offline battles, and a mission mode that encourages you to play at your best. My Hero One’s Justice does contain some flaws that hinder its potential. The character roster feels rather lackluster once you play through all of them. The story mode suffers from a brain-dead AI which makes battles scarcely interesting.
The combat system is great. It utilizes many diverse elements mixed together with the quirk system. It is like Naruto’s combat mixed in with special abilities and an excessive focus on melee attacks. There are no Ninjutsu moves here though, and most of the battles rely on the distinct quirks for each fighter. Combine the quirks with regular attacks, and you can manage to keep a combo chain going for a long time. There is a dash button that functions in the same way as Naruto games and causes you to rush to the target to continue your attack.
As each fighter in My Hero Academia offers their own unique quirks, it leads to some interesting battles. There are two special moves which are usually best executed in the middle of combos to damage the opponent. The biggest culprit in enjoying them is the enemy AI. During the story mode, you will fight a stupid AI which ruins the excitements of replaying the classic story battles. These fights are easy enough that any strategy is mostly not needed. Once you learn to exploit their weakness, capture them in a combo chain; the battle is over.
Another aspect of the game is highly polished. It is the visuals which have managed to nail the look and feel of the anime. The characters are all animated nicely and their quirk powers are carefully modeled after their personality in the animated show. The game on top runs at 60 FPS, therefore, offering smooth experience and minimal lag during the fights. The sound design itself is not that great though and the soundtrack feels lacking next to the visuals. The fight music is average to good but nothing stands out enough to keep it memorable.
Coming back to the story mode, it repeats some events from the anime, but the presentation is honestly not that great. Don’t expect many big budget visual spectacle cutscenes like in Naruto Ultimate Ninja series. The battles here are mostly presented in a linear fashion with the story handled in comic book style panels and artwork taken from the animated show. The story mode also tries starting from the beginning and retells all events, but it doesn’t really do a good job at establishing the world or developing the characters. If you are a newcomer, it will be hard to understand their importance or role in the story, which reduces the emotional impact of some of the fights.
The story mode is not the only single-player content though, and you can also attempt a challenge mode of sorts with missions. These missions will place restrictions which helps combat some of the slowness of the flawed AI controlled opponent. The limitations keep changing between each battle and the ability to use two side characters for most of them notably enhances the experience. They allow you to extend your combo attacks. You can also level up every fighter and gain experience points for them. Customization parts unlock as you achieve some progress with missions, but the replay value is low unless you want to perfect each battle with S rank, which itself is reasonably easy.
The online battles are where you will start experiencing some challenge. They start with a ranked, unranked and a basic search option for custom fights. The battles take some time to begin after matchmaking completes. The matches are entertaining but I feel like there is an extra lag imposed, especially if you fail to connect an attack. There is a penalty to it where your character becomes unresponsive, but it also depends on the abilities for them. Some characters are excellent at hard-hitting punches like Izuku Midoriya and All-Might, while others offer their own unique quirks that aid them well in battle.
A gallery is available for fans to get their collections in order with a variety of artwork and unlockable. It doesn’t offer anything unique though, so you can ignore it altogether. Once the story mode ends, mission mode is available to complete and after that, it depends on how long you can enjoy the combat with offline or online multiplayer matches. I do think that most of the battles start to become predictable and lose their identity because of a lack of strategy. The bold moves are great to view until you execute them again and see the same animation repeated. Counters and Parries feel like they are trying to add a layer of depth to the combat, but the reality is that most of the outcome primarily depends on who can button mash to victory.
There is not a lot to say in the conclusion, but Bandai Namco has a solid fighting system on hand. Now they need to work on polishing aspects of it, make it more skill-based and challenging for those who want to enjoy the thrill of battles. The character roster also needs an overhaul for the sequel that hopefully leads to more variety, if it happens. The base is solid enough here, in this way; this is not a bad game, just one that has flaws holding back its potential.
My Hero One’s Justice Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Fight for your justice in MY HERO ONE'S JUSTICE! The popular manga and anime series clashes head-to-head and Quirk-to-Quirk in this 3D arena fighter.
Final Score - 7/107/10
The presentation and visuals are on point and nail the aesthetics of My Hero Academia, but the story is poorly told, battles are lackluster with a stupid AI offering next to none challenge. Combat is fantastic with the intense destruction of stages but lacks strategy that undermines its credibility in the long run.