Video games that stem from popular anime and manga come in all shapes and sizes. Oftentimes many can feel unpolished, and bland compared to the series they’re adapted from. For me personally, I hold the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm series in very high regard and consider it to be one of the best video game adaptations in recent memory. Of course, I’m not ignoring Dragon Ball FighterZ, I just consider that title more of a conventional fighter whereas the Storm series and My Hero One’s Justice are arcade brawlers that are much less reliant on technicalities.
I say this wholeheartedly, My Hero One’s Justice is one of the most surprising adaptations I’ve played in recent memory. While it doesn’t take my top spot, beating out Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, it comes pretty damn close. You can tell developer Byking put a whole lot of care into My Hero One’s Justice and the payoff is something that can be enjoyed by any fan of the widely popular anime and manga.
Right off the bat, the game has a ton of things to do. It’s exciting! There are six playable modes: story, arcade, mission, training, local battle, and online. Three other modes are included as well, one of which allows you to customize each of the 20 playable characters, and one where you can customize your player profile. The final mode is a gallery where you can view cutscenes from the story, character artwork, in-game models, as well as listen to voice clips, and music. I’ll get to each mode individually, but I just want to double down on how much there is to do, and it all reaps you sweet, sweet rewards.
The first thing I played was the game’s story, which covers episodes 27 to 49. Battles in the story mode go pretty quickly, lasting only one round. There are two different campaigns to go through, one telling the story from the perspective of the heroes while the other, you guessed it, gives you the perspective of the villains. Both campaigns can be finished in a couple of hours but there’s plenty of reason to go back and play fights over again. Your performance in battle will be graded and depending on your grade, you’ll be granted certain items which you can then use in character customization. Each fight gives you the opportunity to unlock three different items, the rarest items are locked behind a secret bonus objective in each battle. I wasn’t really a fan of the objectives being hidden as it’s kind of tough sometimes to guess exactly what you’re supposed to do.
I can definitely see My Hero One’s Justice’s gameplay being the most divisive part about the game. Obviously, if you’re looking for a full-fledged fighting title, you may be mildly disappointed. The game has a pretty simple control scheme at first, similar to something like the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games. Expect comparisons to that title a lot. However, there is some depth to be found once you become attuned to how everything works.
My Hero One’s Justice offers players two separate control options. One of which is more casual as it’ll allow you to string together combos by mashing square, while the other is manual and allows for more experimentation. Characters can dash, block, pull off special skills that eat up your Plus Ultra meter, and call in additional allies to help you in battle. The game can feel a little bit floaty, as both fighters fly all over the map, running on walls and using their quirks. I personally really enjoyed every second of it. Gameplay may feel chaotic to some but learning the way it works will allow for more experienced players to control battles. The camera does a surprisingly good job of keeping up with the action, albeit once you get into the air or on the walls, things can seem a bit wonky at times, but this wasn’t the case often enough to cause any particular frustration.
I briefly mentioned metered skills before, or we can call them Plus Ultra attacks if you want to get weeby about it. They’re absolutely amazing. Think of the three-bar moves in Dragon Ball FighterZ, or the Chakra-based ultimate skills characters in the Ultimate Ninja Storm games use. There are two different levels for Plus Ultra attacks, one of which offers a lighter attack that damages the opponent while the other goes through a longer anime-style cutscene. They look absolutely great, seeing these attacks brought to life in Unreal Engine 4 really amped me up during battles. There’s also a three metered Plus Ultra attack that’ll let you bring out two of your companions, although I found the solo two-meter attacks much more gratifying and visually satisfying.
Since I brought up Unreal Engine 4, I think it’s time I mentioned how dang good this game looks. From the character models, stages, and story cutscenes, everything looks on-par to the visuals of My Hero Academia. There aren’t many cutscenes, but every time there is they’re absolutely epic. Recreating the same high-intensity battles you expect from a series like this one in Unreal Engine 4. I wish the rest of the story would’ve had these cutscenes but understandably it probably would’ve taken a lot more time to create.
There are 15 stages in My Hero One’s Justice, each of which are ripped from iconic locations in the show and manga. They’re also fully destructible. The destructibility of these environments adds a lot to the feel of battles. Punching your opponent along a wall could cause pieces of the wall to fly off. Hitting your opponent down can create a big crater. Fighting in a peaceful forest could turn it into a complete wasteland by the fight’s end. It’s all absolutely fantastic and adds an incredibly immersive layer of detail to the game seeing these things happen in real-time. Also, there are a couple of stages where ring outs are possible, but they’re tough to pull off so don’t worry about them too much.
Additionally, the announcer in My Hero One’s Justice, Present Mic in My Hero Academia, should be commended for his pure tenacity during battle. Voice actor Hiroyuki Yoshino masterfully adds so much to these fights. At times, I almost wanted to end each game with a Plus Ultra attack as Present Mic screams PLUS ULTRA if you can end a match this way. It’s akin to freaking anime ASMR. Speaking of which, the game only offers players the Japanese voices, which may be disappointing to fans of the English dub. Strangely, I noticed character intros are missing subtitles which can be a bit of a bummer, I know a day one patch will be available and am hoping they’re added then if not at some point in the future.
Arcade mode, training, and local battle are pretty self-explanatory. Because there is a manual way to control your character, I think some time spent in the training mode could really offer an edge to those that put the time and effort into specific characters they like. Crafting a team that works for you will be key against online opponents. Arcade mode has players fight through six battles, each of which become increasingly difficult as time goes on. Completing Arcade mode will unlock you a special item for the character that you played as, meaning you’ll have to go through with all 20 characters if you hope to unlock everything.
Missions are another standout in My Hero One’s Justice. There are a few different mission maps you can follow, the first being a basic tutorial. You have to unlock each of the mission maps in order and they all have branching paths with a multitude of battles. You select three different characters and take part in fights with different modifiers that can debuff you or give your opponent special advantages. On top of that, each character’s health carries over into the next fight, forcing you to change up who you play as while putting your previous character in one of your two assist slots. Completing fights earns you items that you’ll have to use to heal your characters or give them special buffs, they’re limited though so it requires some strategy to get through the harder maps. This was personally my favorite mode of all as it offered the most challenge and highest payoff.
I haven’t even begun to get into the character customization. There are literally hundreds of items alongside a good chunk of costumes to unlock for each character. Some items are universal while others aren’t. I forgot to mention that everything you do in My Hero One’s Justice nets you a currency that you can use to buy new costumes among other things. You can save different character presets and bring them into other modes like online to show off your beautiful, or disturbing creations.
Because the game wasn’t available to the public during my time reviewing it, I didn’t get to check out the online mode, and with that, I didn’t really go into customizing my player profile. My experience with online in the past for these types of games has never always been great, but again, I can’t really give you a rundown of how well it works since I didn’t get to experience it for myself. I am hoping for the best though as I could see myself going back to online.
My Hero One’s Justice is a great adaptation of an amazing anime and manga. I’m so happy to see the first video game title stemming from this series turn out a lot better than I expected. With additional DLC coming down the pipeline there’ll be plenty of reason to go back for more in the coming months. While paying $60 at launch for an anime title might be a stretch for some gamers, hardcore fans of the show won’t be disappointed with the day one package.
I think ultimately, this game will boil down to what each individual player is looking for. My Hero One’s Justice falls in between something casual and competitive, a game that can be fun to enjoy with friends or played competitively at a much lesser level than other games in the fighting game community. On that note, I’ll leave you with a saying from the greatest hero of all time… PLUS ULTRA!!!