You Look Great In A Tank Top
HIGH Brilliant implementation of the license, novel approach to a fighter.
LOW Combat feels too janky and loose.
WTF Why is this character creator so weak?
I don’t watch a lot of anime, but my son and I stumbled into One Punch Man on a late night when we were staying up and eating popcorn, and it just clicked.
The main character — as the title suggests — defeats every opponent with just one punch, so the series spends a lot of time on what it means to be someone so powerful that it gets boring. Of course, translating that concept into a videogame seemed problematic at the very least, but credit goes to Bandai Namco for figuring out how to solve it. If only the rest of the experience were as clever…
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is a 3D third-person fighter that puts the player in the shoes not of the titular hero, but of a custom-created up-and-comer trying to make a name for themselves. The player’s newb can call on other, more established heroes (including OPM himself) to lend a hand during fights, but relegating them to ‘assist’ roles is an extremely sharp way dodge the dilemma of making an invulnerable hero interesting to play. Unfortunately, everything goes south almost immediately because the combat is janky AF.
Players are free to move around an open arena and dodge in any way that suits them, but once fists are thrown, the combat system is revealed to be far worse than what I’d expect for a title that is based on fighting. The biggest snag is that there are bizarre pauses when a character gets knocked down, preventing any sort of follow-up attack or juggle that would reward forward momentum. Everything just stops for a few seconds while the downed character is unable to be attacked, and then the AI opponent (whether attacking or defending) will get a cheap priority hit in. Also… well, just get used to cheap attacks.
I found it tough to find any flow to the combat, and progress in One Punch Man came only by leveling my character up enough to tank through the AI’s cheese and overpower opponents with brute force. It’s unsatisfying, feels unfair when up against characters of higher level, and is a poor foundation to build a game on – a shame, since the rest of the experience will appeal to fans of OPM.
The city where the action takes place is a good recreation of the anime’s locations, the quests will put players on track to meet up with plenty of familiar faces, and the overall concept of playing a ‘nobody’ with aspirations of being a big-time hero is a perfect fit with the source material. As someone who likes the show and the concept, it checks most of the boxes I’d want from a licensed title – if the combat was solid, I’d have been totally content with One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows as fanservice for a series I enjoyed. Instead, the part that players will be spending the most time on is also the worst part of the experience, and no amount of callbacks or cameos can carry it.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Bandai Namco. It is currently available on PS4, XBO and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. No time was spent in multiplayer mode, and the mode first needs to be unlocked by progressing the campaign.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T for Mild Blood, Mild Language, Violence and Suggestive Themes. The official ESRB description reads as follows: This is a fighting game, based on the anime One Punch Man, in which players customize a character and engage in tag-team fights against villains in 3D arena-style environments. Players use punches, kicks, weapons (e.g., metal bats, swords), and special attacks (e.g., flurries of punches or kicks, blasts of energy) to deplete opponents’ life meters. Fights are highlighted by cries of pain, impact sounds, and explosions. One cutscene depicts a brief image of a wounded character with blood dripping from his nose; another sequence depicts green liquid spurting from a defeated villain. Some insect-like characters are depicted with exaggerated-size breasts and/or with skin patterns/outfits exposing large amounts of their breasts/cleavage. The dialogue also contains some suggestive material (e.g., “There’s more than a French kiss in store for you”; “This is all that pervert’s fault….”). The words “a*s” and “bastard” appear in dialogue.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played almost all of the game on mute and had no issues. Text accompanies all dialogue and I never noticed any instances where sound cues played a role. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable and bizarrely, offers no control diagram either. The setup is fairly complicated with different control schemes between the fighting and when walking around town in quest mode. After putting the game down for a while and then coming back to it, I struggled to find complete info on what buttons did what and in which mode, but the only method was either experimentation or going back through all of the tutorials one by one. For quest mode in town, expect the usual moving with L stick, camera with R. One button is confirm/interact, one is cancel. During fights, movement is handled the same but the face buttons handle an array of attacks and dodges, and super moves must be activated by holding one of the triggers with a face button.