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Why The Hell Does Bandai Namco Keep Making These My Hero Academia Games?
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Genre: Anime 3D Arena Fighting Game
My Hero Academia is currently one of the most popular manga/anime in the world, and one that I’m proud to be a fan of. If One Punch Man is a satirical take on the Western concept of comic book superheroes, My Hero Academia is a beautiful celebration of the genre as a whole (and the decades’ worth of tropes that come with it).
My Hero One’s Justice 2 is actually the second 3D arena fighting game based on a manga/anime to be released by Bandai Namco in the span of two months, after One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows earlier in February 2020. Unfortunately, this game is a travesty to the source material, something that not even fans would enjoy.
Some might dismiss My Hero Academia as simply another shonen manga/anime, but it’s popular for many reasons, including its instantly-likeable amazing characters and heartbreaking epic storylines. Just like Marvel’s X-Men, each of the heroes and villains in the series has their own quirks (pardon the pun, superhuman abilities are called Quirks in-universe) and unique traits that make them oh so memorable.
That’s not nearly enough praise for the source material, but I’m not reviewing that. I’m reviewing the video game adaptation by Japanese developer Byking. Unfortunately, it’s wasting everything that’s good about the manga/anime and squandering the potential of what a great My Hero Academia game could have been.
I’m going to be comparing My Hero One’s Justice 2 and One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows a lot in my review, not only because they came out in the same month, but also because they’re both anime 3D fighters published by Bandai Namco.
Both games also have another thing in common: they’re both bland as heck.
However, I would argue that My Hero One’s Justice 2 is the worse offender for being an unashamed and blatant cash-in of a popular IP.
At least One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows tried to distinguish itself by featuring action RPG fighting game hybrid mechanics, where players can create custom characters and take them on a journey to become a superhero while encountering and interacting with familiar characters from the source material along the way.
My Hero One’s Justice 2 doesn’t have any of that. Instead, it features a boring and barebones story mode, where players play on a chapter-by-chapter basis that rehashes events from the latter half of the third season and the first half of the fourth season of the anime.
These moments from the anime are replayed using stills from the anime in a stilted and barely-animated motion comic format with voiced narration from the characters. Sure, they’re all voiced by the same voice actors from the anime, but we’re still talking about a Cliff Notes version of the events from the anime.
In the process, it loses any of the intense drama and tension that was present in the anime, resulting in an insultingly-simplistic retelling.
In a way that cheapens the experience even further, some of the chapters are simply slideshows and aren’t even playable. I still got trophies for ‘completing them’, making me feel even more insulted as a fan and a gamer.
Once you finish playing through the Story Mode, you can do so again, but this time from the perspective of the villains. You might think, “Woah, that’s awesome!” I’m here to tell you that it’s not. The villains’ side of Story Mode is essentially just an excuse to take control of the bad guys.
Do you know what’s the most insulting and cheap aspect of that is? It’s the ham-fisted way that the developers lazily remixed and reused the same exact battles from the heroes’ side of Story Mode. The only difference is that now you’re controlling the villains.
I would love to have seen more effort from the developers on this, especially since this villain-focused Story Mode was such a big part of the game’s marketing.
Yes, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is indeed a 3D arena fighting game. If youâ€™re familiar with these type of games, youâ€™d know that they are often simplistic in nature and flashy enough to try making up for that lack of complexity. The combat is clunky, imprecise, and unresponsive combat.
Sure, I complained about the same thing in my One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows review, but at least that game had different fighting styles to spice up the combat.
My Hero One’s Justice 2 has nothing of the sort. In fact, it plays worse than the average 3D brawler, suffering from broken imbalanced combat and a multitude of issues to the point that it is almost unplayable.
The combat is shallow, as players have access to the typical Square button light attacks, Triangle and Circle heavier Quirk-based attacks, R1 for guarding, L1 for dashing, and stronger super attacks assigned to a combination of buttons (R1+Triangle, etc.), which can be activated if you have the required number of filled bars.
I’m not a fan of fighting games in general, though I’ve played many of them through the years. I’ve even played a lot of anime 3D fighting games, and My Hero One’s Justice 2 still feels like the most unpolished mess of a game I’ve ever had the displeasure of playing.
The combat in My Hero One’s Justice 2 feels so floaty, it’s like you’re playing as Ochako Uraraka (who can manipulate gravity) all the time.
The camera doesn’t help either, as sometimes it weirdly centres on your enemy instead of your own character, which makes for a confusing perspective during combat.
Sure, the special moves look flashy, but executing them mostly feels like crap. The full roster boasts over 40 fighters, which might sound heavenly for fans, but the problem is that they’re most certainly not created equal. This results in large balancing problems. When characters like Deku and Bakugo can unleash combos like a beast, other fighters will feel like lumbering sandbags.
You can literally just mash the dashing and Square attacks to victory in almost every match. There’s no depth to the combat. Keep hitting Square and unleash your special attacks (which won’t even connect properly most of the time) to win matches. That’s all there is to it.
The biggest and most frustrating problem is that simply navigating the Story Mode main menu will cause the framerate to plummet. That’s not even mentioning the condition in battles. During combat, the framerate drops to a crawl, which when added to how ‘floaty’ it feels, is a huge no-no.
If you think that this only happens during flashy attacks, you’re wrong. Battles are often consistently showing low framerates, so much so that it renders the game an absolute pain to play through.
I can’t even imagine how My Hero One’s Justice 2 plays like on the Nintendo Switch when it already stutters like crazy on my PS4 Pro.
That’s how poorly-optimised this mess of a game is, and frankly, there’s almost nothing good I can say about the game, other than that the visuals and designs are authentic to the art of the manga/anime, which is a plus. However, that alone is not nearly enough to redeem this disaster of a game.
What does it say about My Hero One’s Justice 2 when I can’t even recommend it to My Hero Academia fans? Not only did I not enjoy my time with the game, I felt offended that my favourite characters and stories were being butchered in such a terrible game. Worst of all, it feels like a disservice to Kohei Horikoshi’s brilliant work.