My Hero Academia has proven to be one of the most consistently enjoyable anime shows of recent years. Action packed, and largely free of inane filler episodes, it stands out from its peers by being both funny and genuinely moving, and somehow manages the trick of having next to no horrendously annoying characters. In fact, its super-powered roster are amongst the most likeable batch of characters you’re likely to find, and now in My Hero One’s Justice you can play through their story. Alternatively, you can pit them against each other in brutal one on one combat. Lovely.
Surprising only the most curmudgeonly turtle-like individuals, Bandai have used the My Hero license to craft an anime fighting game. Wait, wait, don’t bolt for the door quite yet. Though the road here has been littered with some decidedly iffy offerings, things have recently been looking up, and though this isn’t quite up there with Dragon Ball FighterZ it is a deeply enjoyable take on the anime arena battler that makes great use of the series’ cast.
In an effort to make the game as welcoming as possible to everyone there’s Normal control and Manual control, though in this case normal means being able to stick together a bunch of cool-looking moves by pressing one button repeatedly. Manual control meanwhile tasks you with making your own combos by pressing different buttons in the right order, like, you know, a fighting game.
For younger fans it’ll make it far easier to feel like they’re Midoriya or All-Might dishing out justice to Villains, but it doesn’t make the game all that much fun for adults. Things aren’t helped by the fact that selecting between the two prior to a match is as clear as mud.
One’s Justice does do a great job of capturing each of the character’s quirks and making them into effective fighting moves, even if some of the characters seem to have an undoubted advantage over others. Todoroki’s large ice attacks freeze his opponents and chaining them into the end of each of your combos makes him a formidable opponent who’s both dangerous up close and at range, while Bakugo’s explosive moveset flows incredibly well into devastating combos.
The story mode picks up midway through the anime series, beginning with Midorya’s first encounter with the surprisingly sprightly Gran Torino. Each chapter charts a bit of the story, and completing the ensuing fight – there’s nearly always a fight – can gain you some cool unlockables to customise your characters with. The better you do the better the item you’ll get, and there’s an S Rank on each chapter to reach which begs for you to replay them if you miss the mark.
Much of the story is told via semi-animated comic book cells which suit the property perfectly, though there’s also the occasional fully animated cut-scene that uses the in-engine graphics to replicate scenes from the anime. They can look fantastic, though there’s the occasional moment on Switch where you’ll really notice the lack of anti-aliasing, or that the art-style doesn’t seem quite as bold as it does elsewhere.
Overall though, despite being on the less powerful console the game holds up remarkably well compared to the PS4 and Xbox One. The comic art clearly doesn’t need all that much in the way of oomph in order to shine and the frame rate remains relatively steady barring the occasional hiccup when things get a bit much. Either way, there’s very little to detract from playing on Nintendo’s robust little hybrid, especially when you can take it on the go with you.
The game’s Story Mode chapter breakdown makes it perfect Switch-fodder, with each probably only running a few minutes a piece, and once you’re done with that there’s additional single player Missions and the classic offline Arcade mode for when playing with friends isn’t an option.
Multiplayer is going to be where the game’s longevity comes into play though, and there’s definitely plenty of fun to be had both locally and online. However, playing Ranked against those around the world isn’t immediately the greatest experience, as there appears to be no filter or grading system. You’ll find yourself fighting against people who’ve been at it a hell of a lot longer than you have or simply have a higher skill level. There’s always a big jump when you move from battling against the AI to an actual human being, but it’d be nice to feel as though there was some chance of facing someone closer to your own level rather than a parade of people who are simply beyond you.
The whole experience feels utterly authentic, and really captures the essence of My Hero Academia. The roster stretches to a healthy twenty characters from the show, with more to come via DLC, and includes the majority of the central heroes and their nemeses. It’s possible that they may have missed one of your favourites – I’d have loved to see them turn Koda’s ability to talk to creatures into a viable fighting style – but it’s hard to feel too short-changed with the characters that are there, even if you dislike the DLC route for adding more. Remember when they were your reward for playing the game?
My Hero One’s Justice sees Bandai at their property-managing best, bringing a hugely enjoyable fighting game experience to the My Hero Academia franchise. The Switch version has a few rough edges, but ultimately the colourful anime brawling feels perfectly at home on Nintendo’s continually surprising handheld.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch – also available for PS4 and Xbox One