The superhero filled world of My Hero Academia continues to thrive, with four seasons of the anime, multiple theatrical releases, a load of manga volumes, and some video game adaptations already under its belt. The last venture in the gaming sector, My Hero One’s Justice, delivered a fast and exciting fighting experience that did remarkably well to capture the ‘quirky’ powers on display. There was room for improvement though and now Bandai Namco have returned with a sequel – My Hero One’s Justice 2. Will it build upon the previous offering to present us an almighty 3D arena fighting game full of smashing new features, or is it just more of the same?
While it has to be said that My Hero One’s Justice 2 feels very familiar, on the whole it’s bigger and better. There are a couple of areas which seem to have been overlooked however, and that could potentially hold it back from taking a place in the upper echelons of the genre.
My Hero One’s Justice 2 is one of many anime games in recent times taking the 3D arena fighting approach, with battles occurring one versus one in this particular case. There are up to two support characters waiting in the wings, who may assist with an attack when called upon via the triggers, but the health bar needing to be depleted is for the main fighter only. As for the environments you’ll tussle within, well they are fairly large and parts are destructible; there’s a ton of room to escape from barrages and keep on the move.
In terms of the action itself you can expect to pull off various types of attacks, differing for each hero and villain, designated to the X, Y, and B buttons; repeated inputs of a button launches your character into a combo if the move connects and the chaining of the moves looks darn cool. These range from simple hand and foot combat to the use of projectiles and the conjuring of elements such as wind and fire. A ‘PLUS ULTRA’ meter is also on hand, which charges up by handing out or receiving damage, and it can allow you to execute manoeuvres that are extraordinary.
You see, each character has their own ability, known as a Quirk, and these Plus Ultra moves are more focused, powerful attacks using these abilities. Some of my personal favourites include Momo Yaoyorozu’s creation of cannons, Camie Utsushimi’s gigantic illusion of herself and Shoto Todoroki’s huge blast of ice. It won’t take much skill to perform them either. As is the case in many fighting games nowadays, the simplicity of the controls means the full movesets are at your fingertips. This has the potential to put everyone on a relatively even footing, right?
What separates the best and worst players is managing stamina, timing and precision of launching attacks, and the skill to guard against or evade incoming attacks. The latter is something the A.I. has a bit of an issue with at times however, which is abundantly clear amidst the massively fluctuating difficulty on display in some game modes. Genuinely, the amount of occasions where the A.I. offers as much resistance as a paper bag is staggering. Other times it reads every move you make and relentlessly spams certain attacks, giving you next to no chance. The only situation worse than that is when the opponent constantly backs off like it’s hoping for a draw. Fortunately, the fights are quick and so if the odd unbalanced bout occurs, it’ll be over swiftly. Otherwise My Hero One’s Justice 2 is a lot of fun to be fair.
So, we’ve established how easy it is to pick up and perform exciting manoeuvres beyond your wildest dreams. That’s great, but having decent game modes is essential to serve a purpose to the action. There are the usual modes that let you battle freely against the computer or a friend locally and to be able to practice your technique, but these tend to lack longevity if truth be told. Arcade isn’t too bad, if only a little samey after a couple of completed runs, with it simply requiring you to battle six opponents in order to succeed. It’s therefore down to Story Mode and Missions to provide the real hook to draw in the solo gamers, which quite frankly, they both do rather well.
Story Mode continues on from the events covered in My Hero One’s Justice, after the monumental confrontation with All For One. I’d recommend you’re up-to-date with the anime as it features arcs found in the third and fourth seasons. Essentially that means there’s a lot of focus on the Shie Hassaikai group and their beef with the Pro heroes as well as the League of Villains. Most of the storytelling is done via comic book style storyboarding with Japanese voiceovers – and English subtitles – although there are a handful of cutscenes featuring the in-game models too. Despite the anime stills looking great, the cutscenes are far more engaging and it could’ve done with a few extra.
Just like in its predecessor, My Hero One’s Justice 2 splits the story into the Heroes and Villains perspective, to see proceedings from both sides. In total there are 86 chapters – and a few sub-chapters to boot – comprised of single fights to partake in or ‘videos’ to watch. The ‘videos’ are generally just storyboards with a dash of special effects, so don’t get too excited. What the Story Mode does really well though is give you a taste of various characters to control; this keeps the chapters nice and fresh. There are objectives to tick off for each chapter too, with cosmetic customisation items given alongside the usual currency reward.
And that currency comes in handy for purchasing one of the hundreds of items available from the in-game shop. Personally, it doesn’t bother me whether costumes are a certain colour or characters are kitted out with cool accessories, but for those who like that kind of stuff, the selection is immense. I preferred to save my coins for Missions, a returning mode that’s grander than before and much improved.
In Missions, the idea is to use coins to unlock your preferred characters, form a team and head out to fulfil a mission. These are not easy by any stretch of the imagination, with opponents getting tougher and coming out in greater numbers as you progress. Say you’ve got a crack team of Midoriya, Bakugo and Todoroki, well you’d choose the mission map and would then need to navigate it, taking down all of the enemies to complete it. The catch is that the health bar carries over after each battle and so it’s a real test of everything you’ve learned so far. Achieve success though and the characters level up, enabling you to invest upgrade points in their health, attack and defense.
The only troubling part of Missions is the fact that there are recommended character levels for each mission and these often exceed what you actually possess. This leads to a bit of repetition and grinding is needed to ensure you’ve got the best chance of emerging victorious. While it’s not ideal, the sheer enjoyment of pulverising opponents in less than a minute on average and the additional rewards garnered means you shouldn’t mind too much.
If it is an inconvenience to do a spot of grinding, there’s always the online side of proceedings to take a look at. Whether you fancy an easygoing unranked bout or a super competitive ranked battle, the choice is yours. As seen in the previous instalment, the option to set your character preferences is available before even contemplating the kind of fight you want and that speeds up the whole process; it saves you from having to keep picking your favoured bunch each and every time. Sadly, it’s already challenging to locate an opponent and that’s not a good sign for a game that’s been out less than a month.
On the rare occasions I’ve matched up with someone, the gameplay has been smooth for the majority of the time apart from when performing PLUS ULTRAs. Due to these triggering cutscenes and bringing about chaos, stuttering can occur frequently. It’s almost as if the Xbox One X can’t handle it and the same problem has arisen during offline play as well. Is such a performance issue going to put you off? I hope not as ultimately it doesn’t affect the battle itself, just the chain of events that are in motion, but it’s irritating and worrying at first.
Focusing on the positives again though and the roster is far superior to what we’ve seen before, boasting 40 characters to play as – including two variants. The usual crowd like All Might, Gran Torino, Endeavor, Stain and Toga are now joined by Mirio Togata, Twice (not the K-pop group!), Fat Gum, Overhaul and more. That’s an influx of new heroes AND villains, which is all that we can ask for really. The 3D models are superb, full of vibrancy, and perfectly capture the anime looks, while the accompanying movesets are on-point too.
Overall, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is an incredibly frantic and enjoyable fighting game that delivers fans with an up-to-date adaptation of the goings on in My Hero Academia. The roster is more fleshed out compared to its predecessor and the game modes – Missions especially – are mostly improved. It’s very impressive how some characters’ Quirks have been adapted, with every one feeling different from the next. The only things holding My Hero One’s Justice 2 back are the occasional performance issue, the erratic A.I. and the sparsely populated online side of the action.
All in all though, My Hero One’s Justice 2 on Xbox One is equally as good as the original and better in most areas. Be sure to pick it up if you’re a keen follower of My Hero Academia as this will be almost everything you desire.