Bandai Namco has cemented itself as a proficient publisher of games in two categories: fighting games and games based on anime properties. Some of those games blend into both categories, as is the case with the publisher’s latest 3D arena fighter, My Hero One’s Justice 2.
This isn’t the first 3D arena fighter based on anime from Bandai Namco that I’ve looked at this month. That would be One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows. But while Spike Chunsoft made an attempt to change up a fairly typical formula, the same can’t be said for developer Byking. My Hero One’s Justice 2 makes no real attempt to appeal to anyone outside of its audience and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, making it another in a pile of mediocre anime fighters.
Class is in session
My Hero One’s Justice 2’s story is a loaded one to grasp for newcomers. On its own, it’s a lot. It’s even worse for anyone flying in blind, since the game barely makes an attempt to educate players on who the game’s characters are, where they belong in the greater world, what their motivations are, or what the world even is. The story, from what I could gather, centers around the main character Izuku “Deku” Midoriya as he makes his way through superhero school in an effort to follow in the footsteps of legendary hero All Might. His journey has him taking part in a superhero internship and getting caught in the middle of an all-out war against a league of supervillains.
The Story mode’s presentation looks to follow the spirit of the anime source material, presenting cutscenes with motion comic panels that precede each fight. It’s an interesting idea, but one that leads to frequent breaks in the action and a lot of loading screens. The Story mode fights are only a single round each, so you’ll be watching more cutscenes and loading screens than actually playing the game.
One strong point is that the game does mine a lot of source material and gives players the option to play different chapters from different perspectives. This offers something that one wouldn’t normally see in a television show or movie, telling the same story while going into the mind of a different character. It’s a concept that goes farther with the latter half of the Story, telling the same story from the perspective of the game’s villains. But unless you have a particular attachment to the anime, you won’t really grow attached to any of the main or ancillary characters.
The core fighting in My Hero One’s Justice 2 should look familiar to those who partake in anime fighters, as the presentation is similar. It’s two players in a 3D arena, able to perform standard strikes or two different special attacks. The combat is largely rock-paper-scissors based, as one type of attack will overcome another, making counters more of a shallow guessing game than anything else. If you do manage to connect with a hit, stringing together combos is an easy affair. It doesn’t even matter that some of the destructible arenas block your vision some of the time. The action hits a point where it becomes rather mindless after a while.
That’s just one part of the formula, though. One of the sequel’s big selling points is that it boasts over 40 characters. They’re easy enough to learn, given the game’s core systems, but only a handful of them feel truly viable. There are a few strong characters who can thrive with mindless button mashes and there’s a large basement filled with lower-tier heroes who make such little impact, they might as well not even be present.
There are some cool ideas at work here, like Plus Ultra moves that utilize character Quirks (the source material’s word for superpowers) in a cinematic fashion. The problem here is that for as cool as they look, they’re very easily countered to the point that the grandiose setup feels pointless. That’s a shame, because a lot of work goes into setting up the bombastic Team Plus Ultra attacks and having them so easily countered is a disappointment.
Developer Byking certainly tries to inject some variety into My Hero One’s Justice 2. There’s an Arcade mode, offering multiple routes for each character. There’s also a Mission mode, which tasks players with running through gauntlets of opponents on a single health bar. It’s an interesting idea, but one that wears out its welcome fast, much like this game as a whole.
With that said, there’s a lot here for those who enjoy the anime. The Story mode is filled with unlockables, with players able to pick up a custom outfit piece after every chapter. Byking put a lot of work into making sure there’s plenty to do for both solo players and those looking for a challenge online. It does get repetitive, though, so it’s hard to imagine anyone outside of the diehard fan sticking around to do everything.
I didn’t love One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, but I could at least appreciate that there was an attempt at something different. I could appreciate that it was at least accessible for hardcore fans and unfamiliar newcomers alike. I could even appreciate that it made an effort with its gameplay, even if it didn’t necessarily lead to anything classic. I can’t say anything like that for My Hero One’s Justice 2.
If you’re a fan of the anime, you’re going to enjoy this and you might even come to enjoy the flawed fighting mechanics. For anybody else, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is just another aggressively mediocre anime fighter, the latest in a long line of them.
This review is based on an Xbox One code provided by the publisher. My Hero One’s Justice 2 is out on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It is available now for $59.99. The game is rated T.