The plethora of tie-in from anime and manga is now incalculable, a real one decline of productions that, riding the wave of the success of the original work, aim at a profit, if not easy, at least fairly sure. Nothing to be ashamed of, except that it is often a lot of botched and unprepared productions. The recent Dragonball Z: Kakarot is a clear proof of this, for example and despite the obvious success with the public (and some praise too much from the critics) it embodies everything that a licensed game should not be nowadays, resting lazily on one's laurels of the strongest brands ever. It is therefore with a certain skepticism that, the most savvy player, approaches productions such as My Hero One's Justice 2, the second chapter based on the now famous My Hero Academia, a shonen manga that quickly conquered the peaks of the Japanese charts and soon becoming successful series all over the globe and of which I analyzed the version for PlayStation 4. In short, where does this umpteenth licensed fighting game fit in the video-playful landscape and how can the second son of Byking Studio break into the heart of those have no knowledge of Kohei Horikoshi's comics?
Short answer: can't. Slightly more articulate answer: he can't, and more likely he doesn't care. Reply definitely more articulate: Well ...
Men (and women) in tights
Let's take a step back. Horikoshi is a genius, regardless of what you think of your work. Not a genius like Katsuhiro Otomo or Benito Jacovitti, plus that kind of genius who not only finds himself in the right place at the right time, but also has the right idea, which means that he doesn't have to do it all by luck and that, if it has arrived where it has arrived, it must also have some merit. And in fact it has, because it took the strongest, nagging and rampant trend of the moment (the super-heroes) and declined it with a view to the battle manga, creating a product from the almost incalculable potential. True, before he arrived One-Punch Man, although considering the common roots of the two works, it is necessary to recognize at the same time how different they are and above all how much the American drift is much stronger in the style of My Hero Academia, which constantly searches through inking style, type of screens and overabundant presence of onomatopoeias with an unmistakable style, of being a love letter to the Marvel and DC comics.
I know, it's a rather verbose preamble but at the same time necessary to frame a production that has a well-defined character, although not visible at first glance and tries in part to explain how such a transversal success of a work is possible that in its framework, hardly brings anything new on balance. The exploits of the protagonists, lowered into the now classic high school scenario but from the context super heroic captivating and that can boast a functional and fun writing, managing to effectively characterize the full-bodied cast that is wrapped in the most diverse archetypes and stereotypes of the genre. My Hero Academia therefore works in its simplicity and has a commendable and intriguing design style, although not always inspired. The pages, or the episodes, scroll quickly and show more than one moment to remember, and more than one supporting actor to choose as a favorite, and this can only be an asset when you find yourself having to develop a licensed fighting game. My Hero One's Justice 2 then tries to take the most successful heroes and villains of the series and packs a roster of 41 characters, thus satisfying almost any fan, who hardly finds his favorite “super” excluded from the selectable characters. In general, Byking Studio tries to pour all the style and strengths into its title, trying without hiding it to please the fans in the most straightforward way possible, thus reflecting itself in a very simple game in its bases but with a high rate of spectacularity.
You Say Run
If someone still had doubts, let's take our teeth off: My Hero One's Justice 2 does not meet the favor of fighting fansnor was it ever his intention to do so. The backbone of the gameplay is immediately revealed almost totally devoid of technicalities and the frame that more than simple should be defined simplistic, but which can also be seen as immediate and built to be the foundation for a pastime disengaged and a little "caciarone", which often this type of product wants to return to the player. As a result, we only have one button for the combos, a handful of specials, a couple of super and two secondary characters to use as assists. This mechanic works in a very classic way, in Marvel VS Capcom style but does not provide the possibility to let our sidekicks enter the field to change the main character. The arrows to our bow don't end here: a parade, dodging and even Guard Cancel system closes the circle, albeit very much in rose water, which allows us to counterattack to get out of the opposing pressure and finally some tool to move in the 3D game environment, in arenas of not too generous size but still suitable for the clashes that rage inside them. One of the novelties of this second chapter lies precisely in theinteraction with the game world through environmental destructibility and stages based on several "plans". This important novelty on paper soon turns out to be quite a component marginal and shallow depth, albeit appreciable in some situations. The clashes are in line with the other productions of this type, a bit confusing and with an uncertain camera, but they do not disdain to create interesting choreography thanks to well-characterized characters. Despite a good care of the wrestlers, however, there remains a bitter taste in the mouth to see how much they could have been further deepened. In short, they stagnate in a strange limbo, on the one hand each character effectively shows his fighting style, even the most atypical one, without too many compromises but at the same time everything turns out very superficial and marred by a basic woodiness that the title failed to completely shake off its predecessor. The collisions do not worthily return the sensation of the impact, if not very rarely, and in principle move, whether it is to approach the opponent to get into a combo or move freely around the arena, perhaps to move back from the enemy offensive , is always a little cumbersome. The challenge level is well constructed, especially in modes outside of Story Mode, showing one good difficulty curve and testing the player, who despite not having many tools to exploit, must almost always put aside the button mashing tactic and play a minimum of strategy to get the better of it.
Assuming that My Hero One's Justice 2 certainly does not aim to make the competitive game the focal point of its experience, the presence of a full-bodied and satisfying single player offer is not only desirable but absolutely necessary. The game offers a certain freedom in this sense, allowing immediately to face the different modes made available, namely: Free Battle, Arcade, Training, Network, Mission and Story. As a result we move from the simplest options for hit and run battles to local or online play, ending up on the three central modes which are precisely the real highlight of the production. The mode Story retraces the fourth season of the anime, taking advantage of the victory of All Might in the clash with his nemesis but also the loss of his powers as a super hero. The events are told through frames of the animated series and arranged on a comic board, with voice over of the original Japanese voices. The clashes arise between these very light interlude scenes that define "cut-scenes" is practically impossible and lead us through the whole narrative arc without too much conviction, in short, we proceed by inertia. Fortunately, the arcade mode, although very classic in its bases, proves to be more convincing and functional, as well as the Mission mode which, always faithful to a certain basic ideological simplicity, gives at least a little more variety than the rest of the offer. By starting a game in this mode, you create a small team, as if it were a real hero agency, and face different missions and opponents, moving on more or less intricate paths depending on the case and the difficulty of our task. Nothing really innovative, but still functional.
What can push you to deepen the options reserved for the single player is the surprising amount of unlockables. Images, music, elements of characterization for our player profile and above all over 1700 elements to personalize the characters. Uniforms, masks, glasses and many other objects that can be combined to create the most stylish (or kitsch) of heroes. It is not perhaps an incisive part of the experience per se but it can still prove to be a good way to reward players and not simply make it all an end in itself. In short, a small flicker, in a not too brave production.
On a technical and artistic level, My Hero One's Justice 2 offers polygonal models more than sufficient and faithful to the animated series, with a set of animations not too exciting but still acceptable, and many special effects that attack the screen, faithfully restoring the atmosphere of the original work. The arenas show the side to a hasty and listless realization, which penalizes the glance. Good special moves, which give that extra touch of grit that the production necessarily needs to conquer and engage the fans, reviving some fundamental scenes of the anime. The dubbing is obviously of a high standard, thanks to the original voice actors who return to lend their voices to their alter-egos while the music does not take full advantage of the appreciable quality in the animated counterpart. Unfortunately, even in this case, the title remains somewhat uncertain and unconvincing.
// One for All, All for One
As was to be expected, My Hero One's Justice 2 represents another tie-in without too much bite and without the desire to go beyond the sufficiency. Harnessed by a conservative mentality and solely based on the fanservice, the title is interesting only in the eyes of the fan who is looking for a disengaged and somewhat rambling pastime. Moreover, in the face of an almost disarming simplicity, the game offers a more than generous roster and could entertain for a few afternoon in the company of friends who share a passion for My Hero Academia, perhaps wanting to recreate some of the most iconic encounters in person, but soon the fascination of Bandai Namco production is also exhausted for those who start with these premises. Certainly more interesting for the young fans of Deku and companions, who find a lively and immediate game, which will bring them even closer to the affection for the brand.