All Style, No Substance

HIGH It’s the best representation of “playing the anime” in memory.

LOW It’s got the loosest fighting in the world.

WTF Why is focus on a hero in the Villian story?

For those who don’t know it, My Hero Academia is a successful anime series featuring a world where most humans have developed superpowers known as “quirks”. Enter Izuku Midoriya — a rare quirkless teenager who dreams of being a hero. Midoriya stumbles into meeting one of the world’s greatest heroes, All Might, and receives his powers. The show then follows Midoriya as he goes to UA High School to learn how to use and control his powers, while defeating villains along the way.

My Hero One’s Justice 2 is a 3D arena fighter where players control heroes and villains playing out a story arcs from the anime. The flashy combat has players dashing, guarding, and stringing combos together, and attacks follow a rock/paper/scissors system. Counterattacks defeat normal attacks, unblockable attacks beat counterattacks, and normal attacks are fast enough to interrupt unblockable attacks.

Combat is enhanced with use of “quirks” — each one is unique, which makes every character play differently from the others and throws an extra layer into the fighting strategy.

For example, Toga can steal the form and powers of their opponent for a moment, Nighteye can auto-dodge attacks by seeing them before they happen, and Midoryia can double his speed and strength at the cost of taking damage every time he attacks.

MHOJ2 also allows up to three characters on a team at a time, which offers another layer — having teammates come in to use their quirk at a pivotal moment can give players the edge. All the while, players are building up a special meter that can release a super-powerful move, and an entire team of three can combine their special moves using a max-filled special bar.

As in most anime-licensed fighters, there’s a story mode based on the TV show/manga, there’s an arcade mode offering a random set of fights for a high score, and the most interesting mode is a mission mode where players run their own hero guild to take on challenges.

In this mode, players will gain coins that can be used to recruit new characters and level up those who are already members of the hero agency. As players use the same combination of characters in this mode, they will start to bond which then gives them additional health and more powerful attacks. Lose too many fights, and recruited heroes may leave and require recruitment again.

While everything I’ve outlined so far is all well and good, the quality of the combat leaves much to be desired — it looks flashy and exciting, but it feels loose and untuned, and there’s not a lot of depth. It’s fairly obvious which combinations have the best damage output and they’re easy to mash until the enemy can be hit with a special move. Also, the special moves tend to have strange hitboxes, and enemies would often dash through them to get free hits on me. There’s also a long recovery period after every attack, even for normal moves. It’s hard to click with the pacing and the AI will punish for every missed strike.

As for the story, MHOJ2 doesn’t have a great intro for players new to the IP. The campaign starts midway through season 3 of the TV show and ends midway through season 4. Those without knowledge of the episodes will be lost as to why things are happening, and why certain story beats are important.

The presentation in MHOJ2 outside of combat isn’t great. The few times when the in-game engine was used for a scene was great, but most of the content comes via comic panels and text boxes. Also, there are two choices in what story players want to go through — hero or villain — but the pivotal fights are identical and the end result is the same regardless of which side I’m playing.

I generally enjoyed my time with My Hero One’s Justice 2 as someone who had some familiarity with the IP and I’m sure that fans of the show will find content to enjoy here. On the other hand, it’s a poor place for newcomers to jump in and the fighting isn’t good enough for those who might want a good dose of anime-styled fisticuffs.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Byking 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 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 Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, and Violence. Combat has explosions, some blood spurts, and has players stabbing, punching, and using things like fire and lightning to beat their opponent. Some of the costumes reveal some cleavage on teenage characters which gets a bit weird. One of the villians is drunk during a still scene, and another villian is shown smoking a couple of times. S*** appears, but that’s the only language I noticed.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue in the game is through text since the voice acting is completely in Japanese. Going with the comic aesthetic, the game’s text is pretty easy to read through the entire game. No sound is needed to be able to play, but text is not resizable.  

Remappable Controls: Controls are fully remappable. 

Eugene Sax
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