Based on the hugely popular and successful anime and manga ”My Hero Academia”, My Hero One’s Justice is a fighting game featuring all of your favourite characters from the hit show, and is the series’ debut in videogame format in the West. The first game to bear the name was a 3DS game called ”My Hero Academia: Battle for All” released back in 2016, and was an arena fighter as well, but that game sadly only saw release in Japan.
With a series about teenagers with super powers though, making a fighting game was only logical, so does this one hold up to other anime licensed fighting games out there, or does it fail to be number 1? That’s what I’m here to find out.
As is the case with most anime licensed videogames, My Hero One’s Justice of course features a story mode, re-telling the events of the anime it stems from. The previously mentioned Japan exclusive 3DS game starts us from the beginning, telling the story of how Midoriya inherited his powers from All Might, and then caps off after the sports festival. My Hero One’s Justice picks up the torch from there, starting us off at the internships and battle with hero killer Stain in the middle of season 2, which might leave western newcomers confused. There is of course a small introduction recap of what happened up until now, but this recap skips on a lot of major plot points.
So in case you have not watched the anime, I’ll give you the gist of it. In a world where the majority of people are born with super powers called Quirks, our main protagonist Izuku Midoriya sadly drew fate’s short straw and was born ”Quirkless”, effectively shattering his dream of becoming the world’s number 1 hero, in a world where being a hero is actually a certified job.
His predicament changes however, when one fateful day he meets his greatest idol, which also happens to be the greatest hero of all time, All Might, who sees Midoriya’s potential and shares his own super power, One for All, with him. Now having a Quirk, Midoriya takes the entrance exam to the Hero Academy, but he still has much to learn before he can properly control One for All’s powers, and become the hero he strives to be.
While I know this part of the story was told in the 3DS game, it still seems odd to me to make a console game a sequel to a 3DS game, and then make the first one exclusive to Japan.
But with that out of the way, the story picks up where all the trainee heroes of Midoriya’s class have been sent out on internships. Midoriya’s internship is with an odd, old man who also turns out to be his idol All Might’s master, who wants to test Midoriya and put him one step closer to mastering his powers.
The story in the show is very well told with some great twists and character developments, but while My Hero One’s Justice simply follows the story of its animated counterpart, Byking really slacked on the budget for the Story Mode. It feels very lacklustre and last minute. The Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm games had great story modes with amazing re-tellings of the anime’s story, and who’s flashy boss fights easily rivalled those of even the anime in sheer scale. Sadly My Hero One’s Justice comes nowhere near close to that. It does the bare minimum, just re-telling the anime with screenshots taken from the show, and the characters narrating what you see.
For a successful show like My Hero Academia, this direction disappoints me quite a bit, as I would have prefered fully rendered 3D cutscenes, or if nothing else then at least a hub world we could move around in, or perhaps even animated cutscenes taken from the show. I don’t know how the story was presented in the 3DS title, but I do hope they take the presentation and production value up a notch in an eventual sequel.
My Hero One’s Justice is your standard 3D arena fighter, everything about the game is about battling. In story mode you are presented with comic book styled cutscenes, after which a battle takes place, and other than that we have training, local battle, and online battle. Whichever you choose, you pick your fighter from a modest selection of both heroes and villains, choose whether or not you want to fight with sidekicks, which is just this game’s term for support characters, and then duke it out in over the top building-destroying, flashy, shonen anime style, until your opponent’s decided they’ve had enough.
In combat, you press X, Y, and A to attack, while B makes you jump, R + either X or A activates a special move, and pressing all three buttons (R, X, and A) activates your ultimate attack called a Plus Ultra. Keep in mind though, that in order to execute these more flashy moves, you need to fill up your special gauge, a la games like Marvel vs. Capcom. This gauge only fills up when you deal damage, and only when it has reached a certain number will you be able to execute more and more powerful moves. You opponent can easily block these though, so do use them wisely.
If you are not great at fighting games, the game’s got your back, as upon selecting your character, you are always given the option between Normal or Manual, with Normal letting you string together sick combos with just repeated tapping of a single character, while Manual demands that you know your combo combinations.
Every character has been faithfully lifted directly from their anime source, their movesets accurately reflecting what they are capable of in the show. It is incredibly fun, especially with a second human player, to play around with all the different characters, to see how their super powers translate in a 3D videogame environment. Some characters, like Uraraka, the gravity girl, is not so much a fighter in the show as she is more of a supportive character, and another character, Kyoka Jiro, whose Quirk is that she has phonejacks extending from her earlobes, also was more supportive than a fighter. It is therefore interesting to see how even these characters fare in a game like this, kind of like how in Super Smash Bros. Mr. Sakurai can come up with a moveset for even the strangest character.
Regardless, one of the most exciting things about having your favourite shonen anime made into a fighting game, is to be in control of your favourite character and their powers, and being able to experiment with them, and the game perfectly delivers on that.
…I’m not cleaning that up
A really cool detail, and something I often feel is missing from a lot of fighting games, is destructible environments, and this being an anime game, you can expect to see everything from buildings to solid rock walls cripple before your might. If you knock you opponent into a wall you can even set after them to continue the fight on said vertical surface for a short while. In a certain other anime I watch, they concentrated their energy into their feet in order to walk on vertical surfaces, so I don’t know what is these guys’ excuse, but ehh, it’s there.
My Hero One’s Justice features all of the better known main characters from the show, favourites like Izuku Midoriya, Ochaco Uraraka, Katsuki Bakugo, Tsuyu Asui, All Might himself, and many more for a total of 20 fighters if you don’t count current and upcoming DLC, and I know this is the series’ first dip into the fighting game genre, but knowing that the show features many more characters than this, I can’t help but feel that the roster is a bit lacklustre. Don’t get me wrong, everyone important is here, but like a Red Bull addict on sugar… I kinda wanted more. Again, the series is on its 3rd season, so what we have here is really only roughly half the characters we actually know of.
I know, quality above quantity, but I like to see the numbers go up, and especially in anime licensed fighting games, I wanted to see as many characters as possible present. Never thought I should ever hear myself say this, but I really hope more DLC is on its way, or that an eventual sequel will add more.
A little personal side note too is that, as someone who loves getting rewarded for good gameplay and unlocking stuff as I go along, I am a bit bummed that every single character baring one, is unlocked from the start. What does that give me to look forward to?
Strive to be the best!
Because it is the age of digital gaming, being able to take your battles online is sort of required in fighting games at this point. I tried a few online matches, which in games like this is something you only do if you want to test how much you actually suck. Everyone kicked my ass, but I can happily report that it was no problem at all finding a match. In fact, I had an opponent within literally seconds!
One feature I also do find cute, is that players after a match can ”like” each other, to sort of say ”hey, you did well, thanks for the fight”, which is a small detail but I do find it to be good sportsmanship.
Pimp your hero!
So if you don’t unlock fighters, what DO you get for going through the game? Well depending on your rank in each mission in Story Mode, Mission Mode, and Arcade Mode, you are rewarded with costume parts that you can then equip to your favourite hero or villain in the appropriately named ”Customize Character” section to make them looks absolutely ridiculous, along with giving them unique battle quotes. There is also the ”Customize Profile” section where you customize your hero title card, that online opponents will see. Personally, I think these two should have been sub sections in Online Mode, but ehh, small gripe.
My Hero One’s Justice also features an arcade mode, where you pick your favourite fighter, and then climb a tower of 7 opponents that of course get stronger for every fight you win. Each fight gets scored, and you are then rewarded accordingly.
Dark Side Story
Become the greatest villain that ever was. My Hero One’s Justice offers you the unique opportunity to see the world from a different pair of eyes, as after you have beaten the regular Hero story, you will unlock the Villain story, essentially doubling your gameplay time for extra value.
This game… is ROCKIN’!! My Hero One’s Justice is a AAA licensed game, and in the sound department it shows! The menu and character select music is repetitive but catchy, as it should be, the fights have all the right sound effects that combined with the colourful visuals really makes the action spring to life, and naturally all of the characters are fully voiced. A smashing soundtrack is an important part of what makes an entertaining fighting game, and My Hero One’s Justice certainly doesn’t disappoint in the regard.
Speaking of voice overs, I personally prefer the English dub cast, whom I think do a phenomenal job in the show, and I know many of you do too. Sadly though, English voice overs are not an option in this game, all voices are in Japanese. This to me personally, is a big let down when many other anime licensed games do offer the choice between the two. This omission really is a shame as the developer could have opted to make both camps happy, but instead this is what we have. But hey, if you prefer Japanese anyway, more power to you, then this won’t bother you at all.
Visuals & Performance
Like I may have mentioned before, My Hero One’s Justice is a straight face lift of its anime counterpart. The menus and result screens are presented in the same comic book style as the show, and the characters and envionments look exactly how they do in the show. When you beat your opponent senseless, the combos are flashy and colourful, giving you a great sense of domination, like every single hit packs a punch, and some attacks will even prompt a good ol’ ”whack”, “bzzzt” or ”pow” sound effect bubble like in the old Batman shows, giving the game a comedic side as well.
Each hero has a so-called Plus Ultra attack, which is the most powerful move in their arsenal, and if you happen to get your opponent caught in that, the visuals are absolutely spectacular. You really feel those attacks, and catch yourself thinking “this is gonna hurt!!”.
I am also happy to report, that the game runs smooth as butter both in docked and handheld/tabletop mode, I had a few battles with my brother in both modes, and everything ran smoothly. Only during character introductions in online battles did I experience any slowdown, but it was nothing major at all. I have only played the game on the Switch, so I can’t compare my experience to other consoles.
Another thing I have to punk the game for though, is its lack of an intro cinematic. This is another thing that is anime game 1-0-1. Every other modern anime licensed fighting game out there has a short opening cutscene that establishes the characters and the world they live in to give you an appetizer of what you are in for, so why doesn’t My Hero One’s Justice have one? I may be spoiled, but this is just another one of those things that, despite being a good fighting game, does make the game feel a bit on the cheap site. It is an odd omission considering industry standards.
The game’s price at $59.99/£44.99 doesn’t come as a surprise to me at all, as it is a AAA licensed game we are dealing with. I can’t say I agree with the price though. With the lack of a cinematic intro, a lacklustre story mode, half the character roster missing, and no English voice over, I can’t say with confidence that you get maximum value for your money. On the other hand it is a good fighting game and will definitely deliver hours of fun in Local Match alone for you and your friends as you hold tournaments and mix and match your favourite characters to go above and beyond. Heck, if you prefer playing alone I am sure even Online Mode will keep you occupied for a long time.
If you are a fan of the show, you are most likely going to get My Hero One’s Justice no matter what I say anyway, and rest assured, that although it falls short on a lot of points presentation wise, it definitely shines at its core at being an entertaining fighting game!
I do hope however that Byking, or whomever tackles the next game, puts a lot more effort into the sequel. The fighting is great, now we just need the rest to follow suit.
Fight as your favorite character from the show
High octane flashy anime battles
Game stays true to its source material
Play from the perspective of both hero and villain
Lackluster story mode
No English voice over