My Hero One’s Justice – A Review
My Hero Academia is a series that’s been making headlines and breaking records for its immense popularity and success across both comics and animation, and is so well known that it practically needs no introduction. But, for those still unaware (or for anyone who hasn’t read my two other articles on this anime), My Hero Academia is the story of Izuku Midoriya and his journey to become the greatest hero in the world by attending a school for superheroes, and the adventures he and his classmates have along the way. Think Sky High, but an anime. My Hero One’s Justice is a video game for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC. This is the series’ first major foray into video games, aside from the 3DS game My Hero Academia: Battle For All, which was never released outside of Japan. So, how well does the series fare as a video game? Well, let’s get into it! For the sake of clarity, I’m discussing the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
My Hero One’s Justice is a 3D Arena Fighting Game, where you play as one character with two characters backing you up as Assists, characters you can call in to do one of their moves to help you out during the fight. The gameplay is simple, but engaging as every single one of the twenty three characters is something else entirely. They all have their unique moves which is based on their own unique Quirks (superpowers). For that reason, gameplay is always fun and interesting. My Hero One’s Justice has been called one of the more “floaty” 3D fighting games, but I don’t really see that as a detriment. The longer airtime encourages more mid-air conflicts or extended combos, which make for a flashier and more visually entertaining experience in my opinion, aided by the sheer dynamic nature of the combat. You can knock someone into the air, combo them into the side of a building and then fight on the side of the building before you both fall back to the ground. At its best, the game is a sight to behold.
One of My Hero One’s Justice’s biggest strengths lies in its sheer variety of modes and things to do. So many modern fighting games have gotten away with charging sixty dollars for a barebones story mode, local versus mode and online play, but One’s Justice isn’t one of those titles. This game has not one, not two, but THREE different Story Modes – Hero, Villain, and Sports Festival.
Hero and Villain Modes are a series of one on one battles that tells the story of My Hero Academia from the second half of season two all the way up to the halfway point in season three. Sports Festival is a prequel Story Mode unlocked after completing Villain Mode, and it tells the story of the first half of season two through another series of fights. The game tells its story through a series of slideshows using screenshots of the actual anime framed in a comic panel sort of way, which keeps them interesting for someone like me who’s watched the show several times over now. Each Story Mode Mission has custom Costume Pieces you can unlock and equip to any hero. You get one piece for simply beating the mission, another for getting an S-Rank on it, and a third for completing a hidden condition. Hidden conditions usually involve winning the fight in the same way that it was won in the anime, which is a nice way of rewarding fans for paying attention, or for wanting to recreate the exact moments that play out in the show. Each Story Mode also has several “What If?” Missions that either fill in gaps in the anime’s story or are simple fights to see who’s the best. They definitely add in an extra fun element and another reason to keep playing through the Story Modes. In addition to the slideshows, Story Mode also has several 3D cutscenes using the game’s actual models, which look fantastic and make me wish the entire game’s story was told this way, instead of just a few choice moments. Still, what’s there is very cool.
Another mode you can play in My Hero One’s Justice is Mission Mode, a mode in which you participate in a series of battles with three or five characters, with health carrying over from every battle. In that sense, it’s essentially a Survival Mode, though as you progress you can unlock new Costume Pieces or get items to use on the map to refill health, make your attacks more powerful or reduce incoming damage. This is where you’ll spend the majority of your time after completing all three Story Modes, should you want more of a single player experience. As you complete missions, the characters you play with gain experience points and level up. The more they level up, the more customization items you’ll unlock and the easier the missions become. Mission Mode is absolutely the most challenging entity in the game, but if you can stick with it, you can unlock some really cool stuff.
The next major mode of note is Arcade Mode, something that not enough modern fighting games include. Arcade Mode is a series of seven fights with other characters, each followed by a unique dialogue between the two characters. It’s not anything groundbreaking, but it’s a fun thing to play if you’re struggling with Mission Mode and you’re curious to see some characters talk to one another. Plus, beating Arcade Mode unlocks a special illustration for the character you played with, which is always fun to see. Not really a substantial addition, but a more than welcome one.
Finally, the last modes to discuss are Character Customization and Profile Customization. These are where your rewards for playing (those aforementioned Costume Pieces) come into play. Every time you fulfill certain conditions on a Story Mode mission or a Mission Mode map, you unlock Costume Pieces you can put on any of the playable characters, either for fun or to make yourself more identifiable in Online matches. Some costumes are locked to a specific character, but most can be equipped to anyone, which makes for a great amount of customization. Even better is that most of the Costume Pieces you can equip are based on characters that aren’t playable in the game, like Mina Ashido’s fur scarf or Mount Lady’s eye mask. With enough tweaking and just a little bit of squinting, you can get your favorite character playable, or give your favorite character a brand new look! It’s a nice touch that definitely keeps you invested in playing every mode to completion. Though if you are finding a Mission too difficult or can’t quite figure out how to get the secret requirement for a Story Mode mission, you also have the option to purchase every costume item using the in game currency you earn by doing anything in the game, be it playing a local Versus match, Arcade, Story Mode or Online play.
Now, while I do love this game, I will say that My Hero One’s Justice is not perfect. There seems to be very little you can do to stop your opponent once they have you in a combo, especially in the air outside of calling in your Assist characters, which can make the game frustrating. Additionally, Mission Mode’s leveling system can be really frustrating, since the game doesn’t tell you what level your characters should be at for which maps, so often times I’ll go into a map thinking I’ll get my way through it no problem because I’m nearly level fifty, and I’ll get my face stomped in, or my attacks won’t do nearly as much damage as they do in Versus Mode, which can make things confusing. Additionally, due to where the game starts and stops in My Hero Academia’s story, the Story Modes can be confusing for those who are new to the series. Though one could argue the only people picking this game up to begin with are people who have watched the anime, so this may be a non-issue. The two biggest problems I have with the game though has to do with its language options. Firstly, the game isn’t dubbed, it’s only in Japanese. This is fine for purists, but I and many other fans mainly watch My Hero Academia dubbed in English, so not having that option feels like a waste, especially with how popular the series is in America. Though honestly, I’ve watched My Hero Academia in both English and Japanese, so when push comes to shove, I can live with the language difference. What’s really a problem is the lack of subtitles. Cutscenes, Arcade Mode dialogue boxes and very specific moments of in-game Story Mode missions have English subtitles, but the entire rest of the game is without them. I could pick up certain lines based on context clues, but the majority of them are lost on me, which is a real shame because it takes me out of the experience.
Overall, My Hero One’s Justice is an excellent game, probably the best 3D Fighting Game in years. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very solid foundation. My Hero One’s Justice has so much to offer in its base game that it’s more than worth the price of admission, more so than games like Street Fighter V or Blade Strangers, or even Dragonball FighterZ. I’m sincerely hoping for more DLC, or a sequel to be announced in the near future. It might not go beyond, but this game is still very much Plus Ultra. I give My Hero One’s Justice an 8 out of 10.