Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 23, 2018 (JP) / October 26, 2018 (EU & NA)
Remember, go beyond, Plus Ultra!
My Hero Academia (or Boku no Hero Academia) is a series I have been invested in watching for quite a while. It’s a well-built show and both its narrative and art-style have kept me hooked for its three seasons of airing.
Because of this, My Hero One’s Justice, the 3D Arena-Fighting game was on my radar since its original announcement; it’s something I have been following closely and since it’s Japanese release earlier this year, has been something I have been very excited for, but the real question is, now that My Hero One’s Justice has released, does it stand up to the hype and expectations a fully-fledged fighting game based on the series has gathered?
The bread and butter of One’s Justice is its insane roster of characters, it’s no Smash Bros. in term of size, but the variety of characters and their abilities that are very faithful to the anime is incredible. There are 20 characters in the base roster, 6 villains and 14 heroes. While the roster is unbalanced in terms of hero/villain ratio, there doesn’t seem to be a big problem, as all of the characters seem balanced and different regardless.
Aside from the base roster, there are 2 released DLC characters (Endeavour and Deku Shoot Style) which are both great additions and are very fun and smooth to play with a third DLC character, Inasa, set to release sometime soon.
Each character has a basic attack using Y and four different quirk attacks using combinations of X, A and the analogue stick. Using these attacks in succession and in successful combos is very satisfying and fun to pull off.
You can also Dash to close in on enemies and Block to cancel an enemies upcoming attack. During a fight, your ‘Plus Ultra’ gauge will fill up – there are three different tiers of Plus Ultra, one being the weakest and three being the absolute strongest. Plus Ultra’s one and two are generally used the most often by holding R and pressing either X or A respectively.
The third Plus Ultra is significantly more difficult and risky to pull off, to activate it you will not only need your Plus Ultra gauge filled to the highest tier possible, but you’ll also need both of your sidekicks fully charged, then, by pressing R and X+A, you will perform a Plus Ultra move that involves your sidekicks and your character, performing the most devastating attack in the game.
Generally, the Plus Ultras are very fun to pull off, as they play a special animation when you land the hit and cause some extreme damage, they feel pretty balanced and aside from a couple of character’s first tier attacks, are all generally fairly used. Brawling in union with your playable characters are sidekicks. Sidekicks are two extra characters you choose that you can summon during a fight to aid you.
Some Sidekicks may be offensive, such as Bakugou and Tokoyami, and some sidekicks may help you in other ways, such as Froppy, who will throw you towards the enemy with her tongue. Sidekicks can be switched off in Local play if you’d like a fairer fight, but they are required in Online.
Sidekicks don’t feel too unbalanced, as they feel like an extra layer of strategy that can be used to counter combos or perform some insane chained moves. They are also vital into performed Level 3 Plus Ultras (which I will touch on later on), so they’re definitely something you’ll want to experiment with and find the best combination for your play-style.
Alongside the already varied character roster, there is a multitude of exciting locations for you to brawl it out in. All of the arenas are areas in the anime and all of these feature destructible environments and different obstacles. There are two main types of arenas, normal ones and ‘Ring Out!’ ones.
The Ring Out ones have another factor of winning, not only can you win by defeating the enemy, but also by forcing them outside of the arena area. This adds another layer of strategy and depth to the game and can make some characters more effective on specific maps. Most maps have the ability to fight on the walls too, which at the start can seem a bit disorientating, but once you get into it and start using them to your advantage can be a real game-changer.
From the start of My Hero One’s Justice, it appears to be absolutely jam-packed with content. Once you load up the game offers 6 different game-mode options and 4 other modes to explore. Game-modes wise, the game throws the Story, Missions, Local, Training and Arcade modes at you to choose from and the Profile/Character customisation as well as Settings and Gallery.
Story Mode follows two separate story-lines from the anime – the Hero Story Mode follows the Hero’s perspective from the Stain fight to the All for One fight and feels heavily relied on the anime. I felt like there wasn’t much deviation from the original story-line, which is fine, but it never gets more interesting if you’ve seen the series before.
The only differences in the Story Mode are the ‘What if?’ segments, where hypothetical fights and scenarios are set up to let the player experience fights they usually would not witness in the series.
The Villain Story Mode follows Tomura Shigaraki rise in the villain world and the creation of the League of Villains. This storyline is obtained after finishing the Hero story and is a lot more interesting and unique feeling than the Hero storyline, as it shows a lot of the behind-the-scenes narrative developments that the anime never featured.
Even though the story mode is long, at about 100 fights/cut-scenes, it never seemed to fully grasp me and keep me interested solely due to the fact that everything I was playing I had already experienced before in the show, it’s definitely a shame and I really did have high hopes for a more original take on the story that takes place in a separate universe or place, as I don’t think canon plotlines should really apply to the game. Just be aware, the game is not dubbed and is only available in Japanese with subtitles – this shouldn’t affect much though, as there isn’t much need for a fully dubbed rework.
Missions Mode is an interesting single-player mode in One’s Justice. You play different missions in succession to receive Items and High-Scores. Once you’ve finished a mission, your HP carries over to the next one, however, you can consume food and other consumables to regain your HP.
Missions can be a bit of a challenge and can be fun to try and reach the Bonus Items Conditions, but once again, it never really grasped me too much, after playing through it a couple of times, you’ve already experienced what it has to offer, but if you’re on the hunt for a specific player icon or a certain accessory, Mission mode can be a fun challenge to receive it.
Arena mode can also be played to receive exclusive items, Arena mode pits you in a ladder-like tournament where you fight NPCs until you become victorious and like Missions, doesn’t grasp me too much, but is there if you wish to experience that Arcade-like gameplay.
The other smaller modes offered in One’s Justice are Local Match and Training. Local Match allows you to either play with another player locally, or play against a CPU using battle rules of your preference. This was one of my favourite modes as it allowed me to hand a Joy-Con to another player and have some seriously fun and wacky fights.
Creating the rules and having no limit is great fun and so this mode is perfect for setting up tournaments for you and your friends with access to all of the arenas and characters. Training pairs you up with a CPU player that does not attack you and an infinite time limit, which allows you to practice combos and learn new characters in an environment that doesn’t feel too pressured.
The most in-depth game-mode in My Hero One’s Justice is the online mode. You can play ranked and unranked matches with the load-out of your choice and you are pitted against other players in a 1v1 situation. There’s nothing much to say about online mode other than it is quite a challenge, and if you play Ranked, you receive a number on you Profile Card and a named rank to help you and other players distinguish how skilled you are.
While it is fun to fight and play in ranked mode, the only gripe I have is that there is no penalty to losing a fight. You don’t lose ranked points and you don’t gain any sort of penalty. It makes Ranked a lot less serious and made me wonder why anyone would play Unranked if there is no real penalty for leaving.
The only other massive gripe I had with Online was the multitude of ‘leavers’. You can be in a fair battle, fighting well and at the final hit, you opponent can close the application or turn off the Switch, causing the entire game to lag to the menu and in return, you don’t receive compensation or your winning points.
It makes it very discouraging when you work hard in a match, only for all the effort to be thrown away. This happened a lot to me and made me feel very annoyed when I had been fighting a fair and intense fight, only for my progress to be thrown down the drain to some hissy-fit on the other end.
My Hero One’s Justice allows you to customise your characters in a number of ways – meeting special conditions in Story Mode and Missions, as well as completing Arcade mode for different characters will unlock outfits and accessories for all the characters in the game, and you can also spend money that you gain from winning a battle in the shop to buy more accessories.
The character customisation is fairly deep and most of the cosmetics you can receive are either nods to other characters in the anime, outfits from various characters or straight up memes (looking at you, Mineta).
I found myself tinkering in this menu for quite a while and came up with some crazy combinations that actually looked fairly cool. The one downside about character customisation is that most cosmetics can be unlocked using currency, and therefore the challenge of meeting the secret conditions becomes redundant.
The only cosmetics that can’t be unlocked using currency are the ones for completing the Story Mode with 100% S-Rank, and even then, by the time you’ve done that, you would have received enough currency to buy better outfits.
The customisation isn’t strictly limited to Characters, though. You can also customise your Profile Card. This card is sort of like a business card, you can choose a profile picture, background, emblem and quote for your card and it becomes more personalised. Your card also holds your name and your Online Rank. Creating a good card is a lot of fun and allows you to have a more personalised handle when playing online.
Overall, My Hero One’s Justice is a great first entry into the western My Hero Academia video-game library. It may appear to be a generic anime-arena-fighter, however, One’s Justice holds its own and is a must-have for any fan of the series. Although I never found myself reinvigorated with nostalgia for the Story Mode, and felt like the other single-player modes didn’t grasp me as well as I hoped.
The Online and Local Matches were enough to keep my attention for hours on end, and to add to it, the vast amount of characters, stages and customisation kept the experience feeling fresh enough for quite a while, and with future DLC on the way in the form of Inasa, I feel like the game has a large enough future to last for a decent amount of time, at least until the inevitable next entry is released. If you’re looking for an MHA fix on-the-go with plenty of content and fan service, One’s Justice is the game for you.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Physical Review Copy Provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment
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This post was written by Ruairi O'Brien (Lucariocios)