TGS Impressions: Saitama's Overpowered Punch Turns the One Punch Man Game into a Battle for Time

posted on by Kim Morrissy

Last month, Bandai Namco Entertainment showed off a trailer for the upcoming One-Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows game, answering the question of how exactly Saitama's overpowered strength was going to work in the game itself.

Simply put, players form teams of three characters to take on an opposing team. If they choose Saitama, he must always be used last, and the other characters must survive long enough for him to arrive through the Hero Arrival System. By performing well in battle with only two characters, players can decrease the amount of time it will take for Saitama to arrive. Once Saitama has arrived, he will knock out any character besides himself with one punch, so the only effective counter for Saitama is another Saitama.

Having played a demo version of the game at Tokyo Game Show, what this system means in practice is that becomes a tactical game of attrition. Right from the character selection screen, you'll be making a choice: do you choose Saitama and stall for time, or do you pick three other characters and attempt to sweep the other person's team before their Saitama can arrive?

It's a total gimmick for sure, but it's great that this game wears that on its sleeve. It gives the game a sense of quirk and personality in the core gameplay that's been absent from other anime fighting games as of late. The problem is that using Saitama makes no sense if you're remotely good at fighting games, and it makes even less sense if you're not good at fighting games.

You see, the game clearly wants you to use Saitama because the rewards for pulling off a perfect guard are very significant. Not only do you get a few seconds shaved off the Saitama timer, you take no damage from the enemy and your character magically teleports behind your opponent so that you can immediately pull off another time-saving combo. Pull off these moves consistently and it doesn't matter how much time they shave off Saitama's arrival time: you'll almost certainly defeat all three of the opponent's characters before Saitama even shows up. This makes the Hero Arrival System ultimately pointless, and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets completely disregarded in the meta-game.

As for the other characters, they have their fair share of gimmicks too that are pretty fun from a casual player's perspective. Mumen Rider may not be the most viable character for gameplay reasons, but playing him never failed to bring out a smile on my face whenever he whips out his bicycle out of thin air to attack people. The best part of anime fighting games is seeing character quirks so faithfully replicated in the gameplay even when it doesn't make complete sense from a design or balance perspective, and that seems to be the driving philosophy behind this game, for better or worse.

Preliminary verdict: this game could be fun to play with friends, but I'm unsure how long the central gimmicks will hold up past the first 20 minutes or so.

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