Bandai Namco is one of the most influential game publishers from Japan and they tend to localize and bring a lot of games based on licensed IPs including One Piece and My Hero Academia. Sadly, most of their games appear to follow a strict formula presenting them more like an arena brawler. This was true for two of their recent efforts: One-Punch Man and My Hero One’s Justice 2.
The first My Hero One’s Justice game did a good job of translating the popular manga/anime series into a video game. It was still an arena brawler that offered some decent fighting mechanics while letting the fans play through their favorite characters and experience some of the epic moments from the manga/anime. The sequel had the opportunity to refine gameplay, focus on a strong narrative and better story mode, and work on the flaws from the first game. It took a different approach instead, emphasizing quantity over quality.
The number of playable characters is just a testament to the focus on quantity for the developers. There are 40 playable characters in the game with more being added as post-launch downloadable content. This sequel basically covers every major character and not just the heroes but the villains are also given a chance to be playable. This also leads to an interesting narrative choice where the story can be experienced for both heroes and villains.
The story picks up right from the end of the first game and follows up until the latest events presented in the anime. It goes all the way to season 4 which was the latest when the game was released. In this way, most of the story elements are covered in the single-player mode but with room left for a potential sequel later down the line. It does make it a little confusing if a newcomer picks up the game and has no idea of the animated show.
While the story is presented through fully voiced cutscenes, they are not animated. Most of the action happens in the style of a comic book where various panels are animated to show the impact of the action. It shows where the budget was cut to squeeze as much content into the sequel as possible. One of the reasons why I enjoy the Naruto Shippudden series is because of their epic cutscenes and cinematic spectacles in a fight and this is something I would have preferred to see here as well.
My Hero One Justice 2 starts slowly by setting up the opening in the hero academy. The first few chapters will set up the various heroes studying in the academy and give an overview of their rivalries among each other, but as the story progresses, the frequency of action-packed battles also increases. My Hero Academia has well-designed characters that transition perfectly over to the video game. Every character has its unique quirk that makes them useful in a battle.
Bandai Namco has rarely disappointed in visuals when it comes to these video games based on popular licensed IPs. My Hero One’s Justice 2 nails the aesthetics of the anime and looks nice and clean with a cell-shaded art style. The 3D fighting has also been improved with some quality-of-life changes including a dodge move. Blocking has been tweaked with a gauge that determines how long it will be possible to stop the onslaught of attacks. Most of the focus of the combat is on executing flashy attacks. Every character has special attacks that correlate with their quirks. It is fun to experiment with such a large roster.
Button mashing is a problem for most fighters that are not properly balanced. My Hero One’s Justice 2 suffers from the same problem. It is possible to exploit certain powers to trap opponents in a combo frenzy while doing it all without a strategy. The game lacks technical skills and polish that is expected from a well-developed fighting game. It doesn’t quite come close to the level of strategy offered in the Naruto Shippuden games, which can also suffer from button mashing but also offer tools to overcome such scenarios.
So what about the replay value? Once the player is done with the story mode which goes through both the heroes and villains, they have the option to play through a Mission mode. This mode offers an RPG-like progression system but suffers from repetition. If you want to experience more of the fighting system, the best way to attempt is through the traditional multiplayer modes. Both online and local multiplayer are supported and with a large roster, it will take some time to find a favorite and master their combat skills.
Overall, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is a sequel that disappoints in the lack of improvements, but it does succeed in offering a lot more content than its predecessor with almost 40 playable characters available to compete in battles at launch. The replay value depends on how well the player is accustomed to the world and lore of My Hero Academia but for newcomers, this will be a tough sell.