My Hero: One's Justice 2 is the latest action game based on the highly popular Shonen Jump manga My Hero Academia (although for some reason the "Academia" part of the title gets dropped from the game series' name). If you're unfamiliar with the series, the easiest way to explain it is as a Japanese take on X-Men, focussing on a school of teens with abilities who do their best to be heroes and save people in need. That's just a surface level comparison though; the actual content of the two franchises is really quite different.
When you start My Hero: One's Justice 2 up you're immediately met with a quick tutorial which explains the game's basic fighting concepts. It's an arena fighter, which is common for games adapted from popular anime series these days, and it has a fairly simple yet deceptively deep system with which to execute your moves. There's nothing technically difficult here - you don't need to learn any complicated inputs or movement strings like you do in most traditional fighting games, but there are a lot of options available to you and you'll start to chain them together the more familiar you get with the system. This can lead to high damage sequences when used correctly.
After the basic tutorial you advance to the main menu, where you have several different modes to choose from, including: a Story Mode, where you go through the original series' narrative and battles; a Mission Mode, where you fight under specific circumstances to advance; a Training Mode, which is exactly what it sounds like; an Arcade Mode, for a more classic sequence of battles leading to an ending image; local and online multiplayer battles; and finally a customization area and a gallery of in-game models and art.
It should be noted that the Story Mode picks up midway through the My Hero Academia storyline, with the first game having already covered the early parts of it, meaning that if you're buying this game to experience the story of the series without having actually read the manga or watched the anime you'll likely be left feeling very confused. It's still a solid game, but the narrative is definitely focused on people who are already fans of the IP.
The story is told mostly through stills from the anime, so it isn't overly exciting, but it tells its tale well enough and has a lot of battles and events for you to power through. Once you're done with the main narrative you unlock a second perspective, called the Villain's Side, where you play as the less heroic characters from the series and the events they went through in this particular story arc, so you get to experience both sides of the conflicts.
As for available characters, there are over 40 playable fighters from My Hero Academia for you to use, with more coming in the form of DLC down the line. The movesets are quite varied, with different archetypes and gimmicks centered around each character's Quirk, which is the word used in-universe when talking about someone's special ability, such as Katsuki Bakugo's ability to cause explosions or Ochako Uraraka's ability to defy gravity, both for herself and other people (although she ends up getting motion sick when using it on herself).
What surprised me the most when playing the game was probably just how different each character played. Having experienced many games of this type before I'm fairly used to characters having different animations and throwbacks to the source material, but overall playing fairly samey. Here, though, the vast variation in which you approach battle depending on who you pick is engaging, to say the least, and the biggest joy for me when playing was picking up a new character and trying to figure out how to best use their abilities and what strategy to adopt.
In the end, I gravitated heavily towards Denki Kaminari, a character I really have no opinion of in the source manga, but in the game his electrical powers allow him to set up traps which will freeze the enemies in place, allowing you to lock your opponents into situations where you can easily follow up for heavy damage.
The combat systems are more enjoyable with some characters than others; universal systems across such a wide cast of characters with very different playstyles often leads to a certain amount of unfairness. I had a very hard time utilizing techniques effectively when I played my first match with Fumikage Tokoyami, for example, as Fumikage is a long-range distanced fighter who doesn't seem to gain much/enough from the dash cancel mechanics, which mostly help you extend combos at close ranges. Character weaknesses like these can be mitigated to a certain extent by picking two support heroes or villains, which you can call on for assistance in battle, at which point they will unleash a standard move or a Super Move (if you have meter to spend on it) to assist you.
One notable drawback to One's Justice 2 is that even though there's a highly varied roster, both in terms of raw character count and abilities, there's not much variation in terms of game modes. The majority of them consist of the same types of battles, just presented slightly differently. So if you don't relish the regular battles then there's little prospect of you finding an alternative source of amusement within the game, and even if you do enjoy them there's not much in the way of side content to mix things up a bit.
One's Justice 2 looks good and encapsulates the designs from My Hero Academia quite well, although the battle arenas aren't as well made and don't look nearly as striking, probably in large part due to their destructible nature necessitating they be less impressive graphically. In general, though, it looks like the anime itself come to life in a 3D environment, with very well-made character models for an anime-styled game. The characters also have a lot of different outfits to wear, so the development team definitely hasn't been lazy in the visuals department. These outfits, as well as additional colors, can be unlocked as you progress through the game and spend your points in the customization area, meaning that you can add a high degree of personal flair to your favorite characters without diluting their personalities (which, afterall, is what probably drew you to them in the first place).
My Hero: One's Justice 2 is a neat game for anyone who is a fan of the series. Getting the chance to control so many different characters from My Hero Academia is a real treat, and as far as licensed games go it's definitely one of the better ones, with strong character models, high moveset variation, and interesting combat systems.
This review is based on a digital copy of My Hero: One's Justice 2 for the PS4, provided by the publisher.
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