Okay, they seriously need to think about titling these games a little more concisely. One’s Justice 2 rolls off the tongue about as well as a spoonful of warm peanut butter, but luckily the 3D arena fighter’s second outing is much more palatable.
The first entry was decent enough, but the roster didn’t do the series’ wide range of quirky heroes justice (ha.) and for me at least, didn’t offer enough variety to be as entertaining as it might be. One’s Justice 2 boasts 40 playable fighters, made up of a fairly even amount of heroes and villains. They’re not all winners, but it’s certainly very interesting to see the characters typically forced to use their powers creatively to gain the upper hand now able to stand toe-to-toe with All Might.
If you’re not a My Hero Academia fan, this won’t be very enjoyable, nor will it be a good entry point into the manga/anime, with the story mode picking up from the defeat of a certain evil bastard and following along with the anime to the letter. It would be nice to see it diverge or expand in certain areas, and while the characters are all spectacularly diverse and faithfully recreated, series fans will probably find very little new to witness in this entry.
At the same time, watching a bunch of screenshots roll by, stitched together like an animated comic book, is hardly the best way to experience the MHA story, which left me wondering just who this was for in the first place.
Combat itself is a flashy whirlwind of exciting powers clashing together as heroes go head to head, calling in allies, launching opponents into the air with giant ice spikes or explosions. Heroes have multiple levels of special attack to build up and unleash, along with powerful ally combo moves which give you the opportunity to turn battles around at the last moment.
It’s a consistently unpredictable experience, and some of the story battles yielded a surprising challenge, but One’s Justice 2 remains easy enough to pick up and play for just about anyone. That’s not to say it doesn’t have finer points – it’s just built in a very accessible way.
Unfortunately, the game’s biggest strength – explosive, flashy fights punctuated with comic book flair – can quickly become its undoing, as the screen fills up with so many shattering buildings and special effects, it’s hard to keep track of who’s punching who. This is especially bothersome in two player, as the camera just does not give both players an even advantage, often focusing on what looks coolest at any moment in time rather than keeping both sides on an even keel.
The main issue with the One’s Justice games so far is simply a squandering of potential. Sure, the games are fun, but there’s definitely a sense of them being here just because it’d make some quick cash and it’s amusing to watch a frog beat the shit out of Superman.
Much like the Attack on Titan game adaptations, it’s simply a popular anime grafted onto a game mechanic available widely elsewhere, with a few tweaks and fan-service additions to get the pre-orders in. My Hero is a really special series, capturing all the classic shounen tropes and representing them with uniquely powered characters who learn to use their strengths in clever ways to overcome limitations. None of that soul is shown through these flashy but generic brawlers.
How good would it be to follow Deku from powerless wimp to unstoppable kick-machine? One of the running themes is his body’s inability to handle his Quirk without causing himself an injury, and this could make for a genuinely interesting mechanic that saw you juggle offensive output with your health bar, rewarding high-risk tactics and encouraging you to use your allies cleverly to clear stages.
Instead, we just chuck everyone in a pit and make them brawl until the vast amount of information and bright colours induces seizures. Which is fun, for a time, and also not a good use of the source material in the slightest. Hell, I’d take a Persona style turn-based RPG with a tight but well-developed party of young heroes developing over time.
Instead, the games are content to retread old ground and show as many familiar faces as possible, which can make One’s Justice 2 feel very old very quickly, especially if you’ve read the manga/watched the anime. The Naruto games did something similar but generally provided an overworld to explore with fresh content at the same time. Once the ample charm and novelty borrowed from My Hero Academia’s extraordinarily colourful world wears off, it’s just another fighting game, and I really hope they do something more exciting with the inevitable My Hero: One’s Justice 3. Maybe they’ll see their way clear to a better name, too.
My Hero: One’s Justice 2 is developed by Byking and published by Bandai Namco. It is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam, PS4 and Xbox One. You can find out more about the game on the official website HERE, and also find some of our other game reviews HERE.