Game Review

by Nick Creamer,

Synopsis:
My Hero: One's Justice
Just as Midoriya and his friends start to settle into their internships, calamity strikes, and our young heroes are pitted against the brutal Hero Killer Stain! After that, the students will have to contend with an even greater challenge, as their summer training comes under attack by the League of Villains itself. Fight through a bevy of dramatic obstacles as Midoriya and his 1-A compatriots, or challenge your friends and determine who is truly the greatest hero. From the scrappy students of 1-A to the cackling fiends of the League of Villains, cross fists and Quirks in a bout for control of all superheroic society. The might of a hero is yours in My Hero: One's Justice!
Review:

The anime franchise tie-in brawler is a venerable gaming institution, with Bandai Namco having published similar efforts for franchises like Naruto and Dragon Ball in the past. On the other hand, One's Justice developer Byking are relatively new to the genre, though their signature Gunslinger Stratos series solidified its own brand of third-person action. So how does their new My Hero Academia-focused effort play, and more importantly, does it capture the essence of My Hero Academia?

To those questions, I offer first a conditional “pretty well” and then a wholehearted “yes.” One's Justice embraces a simplified combat system that lets the unique powers of each My Hero Academia star stand out. One of your face buttons handles jumping, one handles physical combat strings, and the other two are dedicated to any given character's unique Quirk. Combos are fairly straightforward, and the most complex input you'll be asked to put in is “button plus any direction” for unblockable hits and some quirk powers. Shoulder buttons handle dashes and blocks, triggers call for your assists (known as “sidekicks,” of course), and shoulder-plus-face-button unleashes your charge-based special attacks. That pretty much covers it!

One's Justice's relatively straightforward control scheme allow for newcomers to easily latch on to the system, and there's even a mode that lets your default combat string button also naturally incorporate quirk attacks through repeated strikes. The fact that this mode is labeled “normal” and consistently set to the default was a little aggravating to me, but it underlines the fact that One's Justice is designed for any group of friends to be able to pick up and play, without worrying about learning complex inputs in order to do all the cool stuff from the show. And in action, the simplicity of the game's inputs allows the differences between each character to shine, while still leaving room for demonstrating strategic wit and individual excellence.

Conducted on a series of relatively similar in-universe stages, One's Justice fights play out as high-speed 3D brawls incorporating aerial duels, heroic bursts of effort, and all the signature moves these characters have demonstrated so far. The heavy emphasis on unblockables, and the counterbalancing weakness of specials to interruption, makes for a combat system that naturally echoes the “grit your teeth” ethos of My Hero Academia itself, as characters undergo titanic pressure only to rise with a stunning counter. The mix of homing and positioning-based projectiles offers both a diversity of play styles and a range of character difficulties, and the incorporation of features like knocking your opponent straight into a wall, then chasing them into the vertical dimension, embody the manic scramble of superheroic battles. As someone who generally plays fighting games fairly defensively, I found the relative weakness of blocking or spacing in this game to be a little frustrating, but that weakness actually feels true to My Hero Academia's fights.

As for the roster, One's Justice runs from the beginning of 1-A's internships to the end of All Might's season three battle, and incorporates basically all of the characters who had a meaningful role in that stretch. There are no 1-B heroes, and I missed certain favorites like Mina Ashido, but this roster encompasses the greater part of 1-A's students, a handful of League of Villains mainstays, and All Might, Gran Torino, and Eraserhead. These characters battle on a variety of stages based on locations across this narrative stretch, along with the classic sports festival arena. The stages aren't really much of a sell, though - most of them are basically just large rectangles, and those that include ring-outs only emphasize how awkwardly ring-outs interact with this game's incredibly floaty, air-dash-happy combat system.

The clear differentiation across One's Justice's cast might be the game's greatest strength. While characters like Todoroki dazzle through the absurd crowd control offered by his ice and fire powers, Midoriya demonstrates a balance of ranged precision and speed, and characters like Dabi focus heavily on positioning and careful projectiles. The vast majority of One's Justice characters truly feel like their intended heroes; beyond their special attacks being animated just like the show, their combat styles echo their proficiencies. I particularly enjoyed surprising a friend with the knowledge that, due to his hardening ability, Kirishima will basically never ever ever be interrupted during a combo. Knowledge of the manga or show actually gives you a baseline understanding of how these characters will play in-game, and though the power level of individual characters seems to vary wildly, their interplay is still a thrilling experience.

As an interpretation of My Hero Academia's fights, One's Justice succeeds unconditionally. As a fighter in its own right, it's a bit more suspect. As I mentioned, the characters don't seem particularly balanced against each other, with standouts like Todoroki basically offering you every single tool you could want, while others like Tsuyu struggle against the limitations of the 3D brawler system. 3D brawlers almost by design sacrifice precision of action for holism of experience, meaning there's a clumsiness to the motions in this game that gives it a much shorter shelf life than a more traditional fighter. One's Justice is a great game to bring out among friends who love My Hero Academia, but I feel it's probably unlikely to bring new converts to the genre, and the simplicity of controls that make it such a great social game also mean it won't necessarily reward serious practice.

Fortunately, there's plenty else to occupy you here beyond simply mastering the controls. Along with a traditional Arcade mode, One's Justice also includes both a Story and Mission mode, each of which are packed with hours of brawling action. The story mode carries us from midpoint of My Hero Academia's second season through All Might's battle in season three, and though its comic-panel summaries of these events are a neat and welcome trick, it's highly recommended you actually watch this material before One's Justice summarizes it for you. That story mode includes nearly every on-screen battle of the show itself, along with a variety of training sessions and hypothetical fights, all told adding up to maybe five to seven hours of gameplay. That's if you rush, of course - you can also try to earn an S rank in each fight, or fulfill certain hidden conditions to unlock more materials for the character editor.

The Mission mode is similarly rich with unlockables, and frames its fights around a board game grid, where you choose a steady roster of characters and try to keep them healthy through a gamut of fights. It's a welcome addition that echoes in feel what the Story mode adds in narrative, creating the sense of genuinely running through a lengthy heroic mission, and having to make consistent tactical choices along the way. And of course, the game also includes online play, which was thinly populated at the time of my review, but will undoubtedly be full of challengers upon the game's release.

One's Justice's character editor doesn't let you construct your own heroes, or mix-and-match powers, but does offer a wide array of unlockable style choices for the game's existing heroes. Most of these unlockables unfortunately don't go any further than color changes, or slight shifts in design; there's nothing comparable to the ambitious character creation system of something like Soul Calibur here. You're still able to create entirely nonsensical mixes of different character outfits though, and if you want to create a unique look or signature banner for your online bouts, it's a welcome feature.

In terms of graphics, One's Justice cell-shaded look does a terrific job of echoing the anime's style. My Hero Academia possess a thick-lined look and blocky character designs that naturally lend themselves to cell shading, and all of the characters look relatively natural and fluid in their various movements. The effects animations are also quite strong, and the game's careful deployment of speed lines and comic-bubble exclamations do a great job of further bolstering the comic book feel. All the music of the show also recurs here, and though there's no English dub, the Japanese cast all return to voice a wide array of in-battle pronouncements and incidental conversations throughout the game's many modes.

The one glaring weakness of the game's aesthetics again comes down to the stages, which are both disappointingly similar to each other and also fairly simplistic in their textures. On the whole though, while there's nothing about this game's visuals that screams “high definition” (I get the feeling this game would run just as well on the PS3), it still does an admirable job of capturing the look of the show.

That “nonetheless, it is extremely My Hero Academia” essentially sums up my feelings on One's Justice. The game's combat is a little loose and simplistic, but it's perfect for pulling out among friends of various skill levels, and its diverse character styles make for plenty of unique duals. The single-player modes aren't exactly best-in-genre, but they do a fine job of both illustrating the story and offering rewards for truly mastering this system. The graphics aren't next-gen stunning, but they absolutely capture the look and feel of My Hero Academia. One's Justice isn't a top tier fighting game, but it's a terrific adaptation of the My Hero Academia universe to its most natural videogame counterpart. If you're looking to brawl with Midoriya and company, you should absolutely give One's Justice a shot.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : B+
Graphics : B
Sound/Music : B
Gameplay : B+
Presentation : A-

+ Absolutely captures the look and feel of My Hero Academia battles, making for a fun brawler with plenty of single-player content to fight through.
The combat system is a little too clunky and simplistic to reward serious study, and the stages are disappointingly bland.

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