Everyone dreams of having superpowers. Some would use these powers for good, some for evil, and others just to make their morning commute a little easier. Japanese studio Byking definitely had the best intentions to use their powers of game development to create a solid arena fighting game based on the popular My Hero Academia anime and manga, but fall short in a few areas which unfortunately stops them from being able to go beyond.
My Hero One’s Justice is a licensed game based on the highly popular Shonen Jump manga and anime series created by Kohei Horikoshi. A quick introduction to the series; superpowers (commonly referred to as quirks) are commonplace, with a vast majority of people being born with some sort of quirk. Unfortunately for Izuku Midoriya, our protagonist, he is one of the few who was born without any quirk and the show follows his path to fulfilling his dream of becoming the number one hero.
That one friend who is always up for a selfie
Now, I hope you got enough from those two sentences I just gave you because the game gives you about the same (if not less) of an introduction. The story mode of the game starts around mid-season two of the anime with the ‘Stain – Hero Killer’ arc, which is a very bold (if confusing) choice. This is the first home console My Hero game released not only in Japan, but in the West as well. As such it creates a lot of assumptions about who this game is actually targeted towards. If it was made to pull in people who haven’t made the dive into the anime, why not start from the first season and include the strong story and character building that created the diehard fan base that we see now? Instead, Byking have decided to somewhat ostracise newcomers by starting the story so far in, assuming that people already know the world, the characters and how they interact together. The only logical reason for this choice was for them to include characters (in particular the League of Villains) that are showcased later in the show.
The story mode’s cutscenes are mostly comprised of motion comic-style panels, using screen grabs from the anime and a handful of in-game engine recreations of key moments from the anime. For those fans of the English dub from the anime, you’re out of luck as the Japanese VO (with subs) is the only available audio choice. The silver lining here is that they were able to get the entire Japanese cast to reprise their video game counterparts, giving the game that extra touch of authenticity.
Go beyond PLUS ULTRAAAAA!!!
Speaking of characters, this is where the game picks itself up. There are twenty-one playable characters, with all except for one playable from the launch of the game. The inclusion of not only main hero characters, but also villains, gives a good amount of variety when choosing who to play as in local matches, mission mode or online. Understanding the characters and their quirks is at the heart of the combat in MHOJ. Even if you’re not a seasoned fighting game aficionado, being a fan of the show and how the characters use their quirks means you will probably pick this up faster than a traditional fighting game.
The combat is split into two types – normal and manual. Normal combines basic combos and quirk abilities into a single button whereas manual allows you take the three pillars of combat: basic combos, quirk abilities and specials, and combine them to make more powerful and complex combos. Mashing square will give you a basic close quarters flurry of attacks, and triangle and circle are for separate quirk abilities (stronger attacks that may have range, windup and larger AOE). Using both of these attack will build up a super meter that allows you to use supers, consuming anywhere from one to three bars. Most fights will also give you the chance to select two supporting characters who, at a press of a button, can come in to assist if you’re in a tough place or if you want to stun your opponent. The combat is really fun and fast paced, with a good sound mix making every hit feel satisfying. Vibrant colours and onomatopoeic words popping when you land a hit really make the characters and levels feel like they are being lifted straight out of a page of the manga. The combat – as fun as it is – only works if you have an engaging opponent. The AI opponents in the story mode, and also in training and mission mode, would every so often just start running into a wall or run around the edge of the stage. This not only creates a less engaging and free flowing battle but also makes it tougher to pull off high hit combos.
Mineta isn’t a trash character, why would you think that?
MHOJ also includes a mission mode which acts as a good break from the story mode. Mission mode consists of a web of battles you must complete with a group of three characters. Each character has a health bar that must be sustained until you make it to the goal. Each fight presents an opportunity to gain rewards such as health and stat buffs to help you along the way, as well as cosmetic rewards to pimp out your favourite characters.
Now, the customisation options may disappoint some. While there is no true create-a-character option in the game (no OC for your tumblr wall), it does provide a large array of costume options earned through specific ranking results in Story and Mission mode. You can use these to mix and match all of your favourite parts of different characters costumes and create your own frankensteinian character, from pieces as simple as Ida’s glasses to more questionable items like a disturbingly on-brand clingy Mineta doll.
Byking is predominantly a company that creates arcade games for Game Taito Stations (a popular arcade chain in Japan), and this shows in how My Hero One’s Justice is structured and presented. For their first venture into the console front it’s a valiant effort, but it won’t see them going ‘Plus Ultra’.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 | Review code supplied by publisher