My Hero One’s Justice PC Review
My Hero Academia was practically guaranteed to be an instant hit: the manga-turned-anime series combines the sensibilities of Shonen action with a specifically Western-inspired superhero aesthetic. A strongly crafted story with likeable characters and an overall positive outlook that embraces the concept of heroism rather than deconstruct it also factored in making My Hero Academia (don’t call it Boku No Hero Academia, only villains do that) one of the fastest franchises to reach mainstream popularity around the world.
Naturally, this meant that a videogame adaptation was inevitable, and a fighting game at that. My Hero One’s Justice (a baffling renaming of the official title) isn’t the first official videogame based on the series (that honor goes to the Japan exclusive 3DS game featuring the second most common genre for anime adaptations: card battling), but it is the first game to hit consoles as well as PC. Sure enough, One’s Justice takes the heroes and villains of the series and puts them on a one-on-one fighting game backdrop. Or three-on-three, in this case, as the game is structured around the more popular (in Japan at least) 3D arena-style fighting game genre, rather than the more traditional 2D structure.
The Story Mode consists of recapping most of the anime storyline that has been adapted so far, and even opens with a major spoiler recently featured in the third season, so a word of warning to anyone who is behind. The first chapter focuses on Deku, the main protagonist and determined hero-in-training, who undergoes an intense training session with Gran Torino, the very same teacher who helped shape All Might into the world’s greatest hero.
As is typical with most games that recap an anime story, expect dozens of characters being name-dropped at once without much primer, although this game does do a decent job giving unfamiliar players the basics on the main setting and the motivations for each character. It also helps that the Story Mode bounces around multiple characters for their own individual missions, including a mode that focuses on the villains. That said, fans hoping for new scenarios won’t find much here beyond a few “What If?” chapters that are brief and uneventful.
As previously mentioned, gameplay is based around full 3D movement, as the player and opponent face off in medium-sized backdrops based on famous locations from the anime. The camera remains permanently locked on the player’s opponent rather than the player themselves, which is an odd choice but is easy enough to adjust to as it gives a clearer view of what the enemy is doing. Players can attack in various ways, including an auto combo and two dedicated buttons for special attacks, and can also dash on the ground and in the air. Two additional characters can be selected as sidekicks, which are called onto battle to deliver a single attack. While the player can only control their chosen character, the sidekicks can prove invaluable at the right time, such as helping players get out of an enemy’s combo string or lending their attack to keep the player’s assault uninterrupted. More technical aspects include attacks with super armor (a common fighting game feature where players can deal attacks without interruption while still receiving damage) and just guard (a well-timed block that can briefly stun the opposing attacker to give a small window for counterattacking),
Keeping in line with most 3D anime fighters, My Hero is flashy and full of chaotic action. The visuals are the strongest part of the game, with each hero and villain translating perfectly on screen. While not the cel-shaded masterpiece that is Dragon Ball FighterZ, My Hero still does a much better job than most anime adaptations in creating a convincing 3D look, thanks to the various use of shaders and lighting effects. Characters like Todoroki, who fights with ice and fire attacks, especially shine thanks to the smooth visuals as well as the comic book-style quick cuts and dialog boxes that pop up in battle. That said, the biggest bummer in the presentation is the exclusive use of Japanese audio. While this normally wouldn’t be an issue, the problem is that much of the dialogue during battle isn’t subtitled, meaning that character-specific intros and victory quotes remain untranslated. This is especially baffling as the game has unlockable audio quotes that can be customized for each character; unless you’re the hardest of hardcore otaku (or happen to be fluent in Japanese for unrelated reasons), these unlockable voice samples will prove utterly pointless.
It’s a good thing there are plenty of other cosmetic unlockables littered throughout the game. Each character has a whole set of extra accessories and costumes that they can adorn, ranging from existing parts of a character’s ensemble (such as Stain’s scarves or Ida’s glasses) or a whole bunch of fun fanservice-inspired gear (including school uniforms or giant inflatable heads of Mineta, for the two or three fans of that character). There are also custom titles and avatar pics for profiles, all of which are unlocked through the various game modes; said modes include the Story Mode, a barebones Arcade Mode, and a more comprehensive Mission Mode where players must take a chosen team to go through a series of trials of varying difficulty. Despite the mission-based structure, the mode is closer to the Survival Mode commonly found in modern fighting games, since health does not replenish during each encounter. However, there are consumable items that can restore health as well as offer various other effects, which can lead to smoother clears when used wisely. The A.I. opponents can also prove quite troublesome, as they tend to constantly bounce between incompetent (such as constantly running into walls) and frustrating (precise combos that suddenly take off a big chunk of health).
When it comes down to it, My Hero One’s Justice is filled with a decent amount of content and some really pretty visual effects, but also lacks longevity in other areas: the roster is a bit small, battles mainly consist of button-mashing and dashing, and the network battle is especially unpolished, leaving no option to train or play other modes while waiting for a match. As is the case with most anime fighters, the fans will likely be the most receptive to the game’s features, while those less-inclined may find a functional fighter that fizzles out in the fun factor a little too quickly.