Developed by Byking and Published by Bandai Namco, My Hero One’s Justice is a 3D fighting game based on the My Hero Academia anime series. The game’s plot follows the anime religiously to the detriment of itself.
Before we get any further into this review allow me to issue a warning of sorts. I am a huge fan of the My Hero Academia anime/manga series and this game was unable to meet my high expectations. From reading the manga weekly (which you can now find for free on the Shonen Jump/ VIZ Media App) to binging the anime I think I’m well informed. I know each character, every plot point, every detail, every quirk, and as a fan this title doesn’t scratch the itch I was hoping it would. My Hero One’s Justice is a good enough game, yes, but it’s just enough, nothing more.
Visually this looks great, and technically it performs just as good. There were no bugs to speak of and the game has all the standard modes you’d expect in a fighter. This includes: Story, Missions, Local Matches, Online Play, Gallery, Arcade as well as Character and Profile Customizations. With regards to modes this meets all the requirements, but how do they hold up?
My Hero One’s Justice is a 3D brawler with decent mechanics based on a popular anime series. Now if you’ve followed me long enough you should be aware that I don’t usually get hyped for games anymore, however I made an exception for once. I couldn’t help myself, this was My Hero Academia afterall. The first My Hero Academia game, and I wanted it all. In a way I think my hopes set it up to always be a failure for me, and that’s the thing about hype. It can’t be matched.
So what was I looking forward to with this game?
The simple answer would be to be able to reenact the events of the first few seasons of the anime with a twist. What I mean by this is that it would be fine for the game to follow the plot of the anime just as long as it offers a unique perspective that only this medium can. A good example of what I’m referring to are the Naruto Storm games. Those titles followed the plot of the anime but added much needed exposition and different perspectives to the world that Naruto and co inhabit. My Hero One’s justice fails on that point.
The game has two stories campaigns, one for the heroes and one for the Villains. Each of these have a linear structure with the occasional branching path. These occasional diversions serve nothing more than as distractions since they don’t lead anywhere. As mentioned before, the campaign follow the plot of the anime to the letter, so for someone who saw all the episodes of the first few seasons, it doesn’t offer much. Each story segment plays out like a graphic comic with Japanese voice acting. After the comic section the game transitions to a battle stage, and then you are able to battle your opponent. Basically this does not add anything to the My Hero lore.
Like most super movies of old, this is more of a lazy cash in on popular characters without the crux that made the source material popular.
Story aside, the gameplay also fails to impress, just meeting the bare minimum required to fit in the genre it inhabits. Now that’s not to say it’s not fun, it is, but in some ways it unsurprisingly drops the ball. The basic gameplay contains basic 3D brawling, mixed with mid-air combat, and completely out of place wall combat. This is not the Naruto series so prolong combat on walls is a bit out of place.
The controls consist of a manual and automatic (normal) fighting system, there are two primary ways to play this game. Using just the square button you are able to execute most combos while using the normal option. Combos are executed via the use of the square, triangle and circle. They can be modified for more effectiveness by using L1 for dashing around the arenas and R1 for blocking. While blocking it is possible to perform special moves. These simple controls are further enhanced by flicking the left joystick in different directions while pressing the face buttons. For example the square button will become a counter move if pressed while holding a direction on the left joystick. Sidekicks can also be summoned using the L2 and R2 triggers to use one of their moves. Each sidekick has a cool down and can also join in for a particular special attack.
Something similar to the team attacks in the Naruto Storm games?
Special attacks add some much needed flair to the battles, and each character is capable of using three of them. The first two are unique the character while the third is just a team attack with whoever they have as sidekicks. The third attack unfortunately does not change depending on the sidekicks in use. This was a huge shock, because during the tutorial it was hinted to be something similar to the team attacks in the Naruto Storm games. What we got instead is just an attack whereby three characters use their first special move at the same time.
Regrettably there are also not much stages to choose from, which is a trend I’ve noticed with most of this game’s shortcomings, a lack of variety. With only 12 stages, three of which have alternative night versions, it’s difficult to not feel let down. There’s was one moment high point when fighting at night in the forest boosted Tokoyami as it should, but that was just for the campaign.
Not all quirks are interesting enough to have a playable character
With only 21 characters in the rooster there’s sure to be some disappointed fans. Since the game’s campaign covers the first few archs up to the battle with All For One, you wouldn’t be faulted for assuming characters like Miro, Twice or Sir Nighteye would be playable, but they’re not. Not even all the characters for 1-A are present, and 1-B is completely absent. Not all quirks are interesting enough to have a playable character for, but they could at the very least made some of them sidekick exclusives. Leaving out Mei Hatsume should be a crime, and why was Endeavour pre-order DLC?
Now I didn’t hold much hope for characters like Gentle and his girl Labrava being in base game, but it’s characters like them who make perfect DLC. I know I don’t usually get into the DLC/ microtransaction life, but for Gentle and Labrava I’d be making an exception. They were late additions to the anime, and they’re obscure enough for their omission to not disappoint the avid fan.
The Journey is what’s most important not the end
The lack of variety continues with the character unlocks, and it’s even more egregious than the other shortcomings. Back in the day games would have a few characters unlocked and the rooster would grow as you progressed. The recently released Smash Bros Ultimate uses this technique to great effect. My hero one’s Justice forgoes the process of unlocking characters and instead ups for item unlocks. These provide gear for the playable characters, however they are not as rewarding as unlocking characters. Yes All For One is an unlockable character, but he’s the only character who is. Every other character is available immediately and you unlock different gear for them by meeting certain requirements. Fundamentally this equates to just two outfits per character with colour swaps and accessories.
So no swimsuit, alternate outfits or other stuff of the like.
Who wants this?
Who thought this was a good idea?
In the end it made more sense to me when I looked up the developer behind this game. Remember I mentioned them at the beginning, Byking. They are a developer known for a 3D shooter franchise called Gunslinger that has never made it to the west. They had one game that launched outside of asia and it was Rise of Incarnates, a game that flopped miserably despite receiving favorable reviews from critics and gamers. Byking made a decent game in My Hero One’s Justice, but it lacks soul. The game offers none of the fanservice or dept that fans of anime games except.
My Hero One’s Justice is more than anything is a disappointment. It takes a series that is creative, over the top fun and limits it to a by the book affair. Simply put, there is no big incentive to play this game. Yes there are what if scenarios, and missions, but none of it is impactful. Maybe it’s my hype being let down, or maybe it’s not. Expectation breed contempt when those expectations are not met after all. The simple truth is that my expectations were not met and for that reason I didn’t enjoy my overall experience with this game. My recommendation is to approach it with caution and if you do get it then grab it whenever it goes on sale for $30 or less, and it will.
The copy of My Hero One’s Justice used for this review was provided by it’s publisher, Bandai Namco.