2020 has been very generous for fans of anime with some tremendous titles kick starting the new gaming year with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows. It really has felt like Christmas with big games delivering big experiences for fans and I was eagerly hoping for that run to continue as I ventured into an anime that for once, I was not well-versed in and with that I had high expectations heading into My Hero One’s Justice 2 and sadly my expectations were set just a little too high.
One of the reasons why I enjoyed both Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows was that not only did they embrace my own fandom which enhanced the gaming experience but they also introduced new comers to their worlds brilliantly well. My Hero One’s Justice 2 absolutely does not take newcomers into account at all, giving it credit as a sequel to the previous game, there really is zero effort to introduce new players to this game or the world but instead you right back into the story where it left off in the last game. I felt out of my depth with the story right from the off so literally had to stop playing and go into home work mode by researching the characters and the world just to get a grip on the story and characters just thrown into my face, whilst this is something I recommend anyone to do with any game in a series or world they have not played before, would it really of hurt to include a catch up or “here is what you missed” introduction to the game?`
This is a traditional 3D arena fighting game with a story campaign split up in to different fight encounters along with motion comic style cutscenes. The story continues from the previous game, at the beginning of the Provisional Hero License Exam Arc and carries forward to the end of the Shie Hassaikai Arc. The flow of the story feels very much like it is expecting the player to already be well versed in these story arcs and as such it definitely skips the minor beats of the story to instead being the direct 1v1 fights for some missions with some simply being a story driving motion comic. If you know this universe well than a lot of this will have a nostalgia as you progress through and the story is slowly told via every mission. I also really liked how once the missions are completed, a 2nd story line opens which tells the same story but from the vantage point of the villains rather than the heroes.
Visually this game absolutely pops of the screen with vibrant colours and fluid animations that really make the fighting element to this game fun. Each character is faithfully brought to life in the game, which thanks to YouTube I was able to compare and I do like how the original voice cast is used to help bring the characters to life even more which only enhances the immersion for fans. The combat system is fairly simplistic for a fighting game, a lot of focus is placed on using light hits to combos before you can add in a special move or two once the meter builds. The game does have an impressive roster of 40 characters, the control system makes learning them overly simplified and comes down to either your own personal favourite characters to use or just picking the ones with the best moves. As someone new to the world of My Hero Academia, the variety and diversity of the character roster really is impressive but the combat system is just too basic for me. With Dragon Ball Z Kakarot and One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows at least you were able to tailor move sets, to improve them and come up with your own styles but here it is pretty much a case of button mashing to earn to build the meter in order to pull of some flashy special moves.
Even then, using special moves can be hit and miss literally and for me boiled down to the very fundamentals of a fighting game of waiting for the right moment to pull of a special more whilst trying to avoid the others and it all lacked flare and personalisation for me as a fighter. The system is one of the reasons I was never a fan of other 3D arena Anime games which is why I came to really appreciate the evolution with One Punch Man and Dragon Ball Z as they managed to elevate to a new level by daring to step away from this traditional and quite tired style of arena fighting. I feel as though if they had taking this series to a new level it would have incredible and perhaps is something it can learn from the other anime games released in 2020. By sticking to what is familiar they will keep the fanbase happy perhaps but with two glaringly impressive games of anime making that leap into new territory and succeeding, My Hero One’s Justice is a series that would clearly benefit from making that same move.
Overall if you are a fan of the previous game and you are indeed a fan of My Hero Academia than this will offer a good experience with the collectables to find, the reliving of classic story arcs and the chance to take your favourite heroes online to fight other fans. Where it falls down is also the in those very same reasons. This game fails to offer newcomers any safety net or welcome pack to ease them into the world and makes no apologies for doing so. The spectacle of the battles whilst looking comic book brilliant is diluted by a shallow and unsatisfying combat system that is perhaps too simple unless you are a fan happy to see the moves of your favourite characters on screen.
For it wants to deliver, My Hero One’s Justice 2 does, it will be the experience you would expect from a 3D Arena fighting game and if you enjoyed the last game in the series than this sequel will provide more of the same. Compared to recent releases and it is sadly very much left behind in its traditional approach and maybe it is time to change the formula and also give some space to allow new comers to discover the amazing world of My Hero Academia in video games.