The anime and manga franchise My Hero Academia is taking the world by storm, to the point where Bandai Namco simply had to release a video game adaptation for the console market. After a handful of name changes during development, My Hero One’s Justice became the title of said game and now it’s time for us to see whether it is the mightiest of all fighting experiences, or if it’s a quick cash-grab tie-in for the superhero filled franchise?
My Hero One’s Justice keeps the fighting setup fairly simple, with matches consisting of one versus one bouts across either a single round or a best of three. Additionally, support is sometimes available from a selection of side-kicks and these can be especially handy to distract the enemy. The aim is to drain your opponent’s health by using a wide range of super abilities – or Quirks as they are better known – and powerful attacks that anyone unfamiliar with My Hero Academia would be blown away by. Dependant on your chosen character there are ice blasts, whirlwinds, fiery blazes and even a dark shadow that can be unleashed. It’s also pretty cool when the fight gets taken vertically and onto a nearby wall, adding another dimension to the fighting.
One of the best parts is how easy it is to pull off the Quirk abilities, with just a press of a face button enough for a sweet manoeuvre. A meter must be filled to execute the ‘Plus Ultra’ special moves using the RB and another button, but it’s so worth doing as those attacks are usually very exciting with a little cutscene playing out to give it a more emphatic feel. Given the ease of attacking, it ensures most battles are utterly frantic and being able to guard, jump and dash is critical to your survival.
The only issues to be found in the gameplay are regarding the occasionally headless chicken A.I. and the frequency of attacks missing their target because of the 3D fighting arenas; it’s hard to pin an opponent down.
Moving onto the game modes and Story Mode is the most in-depth offering of the bunch, featuring a ton of encounters between the Heroes and Villains of My Hero Academia. The narrative is told mainly by comic book style storyboards, following All Might, Izuku Midoriya and his classmates through an assortment of their antics in Season 2 and 3 of the anime – as well as a few made-up ‘What If’ type offerings. If you aren’t fairly up to date with the anime then there will be spoilers galore as Stain makes his mark, the UA Students take further exams, before coming across new villains like Dabi and Toga, whilst the heroes eventually end up facing off against the mastermind behind the League of Villains.
The fact that it freshens up most of the battles by you controlling a variety of heroes makes it less of a drag. Once you’ve tackled everything thrown your way, even more conflicts are on the horizon with the focus on fighting using the baddies for a change. Completing each chapter and meeting certain requirements unlocks a decent range of customisation items to alter the look of the characters too. Unfortunately, the storytelling aspect didn’t really grip me and I believe the lack of dubbing doesn’t help – every spoken word is voiced in Japanese only – but also storyboarding does a disservice to the awesome action it should be portraying.
Then there’s Missions, which is the only other major mode that brings something new to the table and it’s a bit like an endurance task. After picking your team of fighters, it’ll be up to you to manage their health, deciding who to risk across a number of scenarios within one of six maps included. Each fight has a catch too, such as regular attacks doing less harm or the side-kick meters recharging faster. There’s a bit of a tactical edge to this mode as you advance further through a map because you need to choose the best suited fighter for the opponent at hand, whilst factoring in their current health state and debating whether to use any items you’ve garnered to provide a boost.
The best example of this was when I faced off against Kaminari who excels in electrifying moves up close and therefore ended up losing with Iida, before switching to a low health Todoroki to retry as he can shoot off fiery blasts from distance. It worked and showcased the strengths and weaknesses of specific characters that I hadn’t really seen in the Story Mode or the other solo offerings.
Not that there are many more single player modes to discuss, with the standard Local Match enabling a quick one-off fight against a human or A.I. and the Training mode being pretty self-explanatory. The usual Arcade cavalcade of match-ups is present as well, however that’s your lot unless you fancy venturing into the daunting online world.
Online Mode enables the option to go into battle against another human via Unranked and Ranked matches. What’s great is how easy it is to set your preferred Stage, chosen character, costume and side-kicks beforehand, meaning there’s no faffing about once you’re matched up with an opponent. A lot of games lose their online population swiftly, but so far, it hasn’t ever been a struggle to find a match, gameplay retains its smoothness and the whole experience is fast enough that losing doesn’t feel too bad at all – I’ve taken many beatings and I enjoyed each of them.
In terms of the roster, the 3D character models are very impressive and their move sets are on-point, especially for the trickier Quirks needing to be showcased e.g. Eraser Head’s nullification Quirk and Momo Yaoyorozu’s creation powers. Stain’s terrifying aura and bloodlust appears to have been toned down dramatically though, which is disappointing. The heroes are well represented, but the villains are in short supply and My Hero One’s Justice could’ve done with a couple more to fill out that side.
It’s hard to judge the audio and more specifically the voiceovers, simply because I don’t understand Japanese so it’s difficult to decipher how much conviction there is to the roles the voice actors are playing. The menu music is decent though, conveying that sense of ‘get ready to head into a fight’ type atmosphere.
My Hero One’s Justice on Xbox One is a darn good fighting game that never ceases to deliver excitement due to the fast-paced nature and the wonderfully creative moves that are in keeping with the My Hero Academia franchise. The bulk of the action takes place in Story Mode and Missions, so it’s a good job these are fun to work through. It’s refreshing that the online scene is still going strong at the moment too. Not everything is great though, with the roster lacking in baddies, a subtitled story that’s disengaging and a penchant for special moves missing their target.
I’d like to argue that My Hero One’s Justice is one for all, but it throws you into the universe so quickly that without prior knowledge of the franchise, you’d enjoy it far less. That’s fine though as it’s bloody good fun for the rest of us!