There are good reasons why My Hero Academia is one of the biggest new manga and anime series of the last few years. It’s got so many of the sensibilities of shounen manga, with high schoolers that constantly work hard and strive to be the very best, but throws it together with a superhero school, not unlike X-Men. OK, it’s nowhere near as serious as X-Men, thanks to the many characters that have bizarre Quirks and odd personalities.
Bandai Namco were fairly quick to spot the video game potential, releasing the oddly named My Hero: One’s Justice in 2018. Two years on and with the anime in its fourth series, there’s now a sequel on the way.
The good news for those that enjoyed the first game is that the sequel is very much a sequel. Things pick up right where the first game left off. This is still a 1v1 3D fighting game, with the added twist of giving your chosen fighter two sidekicks who can drop in and lend a helping hand.
With 3v3 battlers far more common, I asked Aoba Miyazaki, Producer of My Hero One’s Justice 2 and the original game the thinking behind this design choice. She explained, “The aim of the game is that the player gets to experience the Quirks of a particular hero, and that’s why we wanted to focus the battle on that hero’s Quirks.”
As with many fighters like this, there’s an emphasis on being able to pick up and play. All the characters have standardised basic attacks, and you’ll have the same control scheme to let you switch back and forth between characters with ease.
It’s when you start looking at the special attacks of each character that you begin to see the more meaningful differences that their unique Quirks give them. When you consider the variety of characters and their often off-kilter abilities, they can lead to some rather interesting and unique feeling attacks. You have your more typical fighting characters like Midoriya and Bakugo, with powerful shockwaves and explosive specials, but then you have someone like Momo Yaoyorozu, who creates things out of her body. One of her Quirk attacks sees her conjure up cannons and fire them, but time it wrong and your target will be off to one side and closing the gap to you.
The roster in My Hero One’s Justice 2 has been fleshed out a lot, adding fifteen characters both good and bad. It helps to flesh out the roster from Class 1-A, such as oddball character (and diminutive pervazoid) Mineta, whose sticky head balls have always been an improbable Quirk, and the pink-skinned acid-spewing Ashido, who’s all about close-range acid attacks. There are also new characters from the third and fourth anime seasons, like Sir Nighteye, whose Foresight ability to see into the future manifests itself as a kind of powerful counter-attack alongside having ranged attacks with his thrown Hyper-Density Seals
It’s endlessly interesting to see how these characters are represented in-game, their unusual Quirks adapted to let them go toe to toe with others. How can Mineta’s head balls go up against the sheer power of a fully charged All Might?
“I mean, in the anime, he obviously can’t be beaten,” Miyazaki-san said, “but it’s hard to see how that would work in a game. Having said that, if you are able to beat All Might in the game, you have to be able to do it in a convincing way that makes sense to the player, so that they think that OK, if this character was to use their Quirk in a particular way, then they could beat All Might.
“So Mineta, for example, could use his ball thingies in some way to stop All Might in his tracks, so there could be a way to beat him. It has to be convincing and authentic.”
As before, this all takes place in arenas that have been designed to take a bit of beating. If you get slammed into a wall of a building, there’s a good chance that it will smash and either open up a new room to fight in or completely collapse.
I think the main change in terms of gameplay feel is that the camera seems to have been brought a bit closer to the action, possibly in an attempt to fix some of the camera issues of the original, where it could get stuck on the scenery. For me, that now adds the problem that the camera feels a bit too close, that I’m not really sure of where I am in the battle arena. That’s only made worse once you throw in the level destruction and all hell is let loose on screen, and the camera can still sometimes be obscured by scenery or found at weird angles.
There is also a new expansion of the game’s Sidekick system, where other characters can be called upon to drop in and help out with a special attack or combo. For My Hero: One’s Justice 2, that’s been expanded so that another player can play as your sidekick, allowing for 2v2 multiplayer battles.
Another thing to look forward to is the continued story, with the fourth season and a second film just coming out now. “The game only goes up to the end of the Shie Hassaikai Arc,” Miyazaki-san told us, “so the film story isn’t in the game, but you do get an original ending to the game after the final battle.” And outside of that, they’re able to explore a handful of things in and around the main storyline.
One example of that is with the character customisation. Though you might think that the My Hero Academia universe would be perfect for a character creator, sadly that’s not on the cards – “Some users have mentioned that, but in this battle action game, we thought that the best way forward was to really make the most of the Quirks and abilities of the existing characters,” Miyazaki-san said. At the very least you’ll have many, many more ways to dress up the 38 characters (some of which are variants) in the game. Will that include some of the RPG fantasy outfits and What-If costumes drawn by the manga artists? “Watch this space!” Miyazaki-san said.
However, she hopes that this will still be an accessible game for newcomers to either the game or anime; “I think that you can definitely get into the story, even if you’ve not played the previous game or not seen the anime, and we’ve also made sure that you’ve got a tutorial to make sure that even if you’re not used to games, you can enjoy this one. It would be great if this could be a gateway back to My Hero Academia as well!”
Honestly, you shouldn’t need this game to convince you to check out one of the best anime series of the last few years.