Many fan-favourite manga and anime properties make for exciting video game potential. But how do you build a 3D fighter around a character that’s effectively invincible? This is the question Bandai Namco attempts to answer with the release of One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows Details
Be your own hero
The easy answer lies in the fact that in One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, you’ll only intermittently control characters from the popular series. For the most part, players embody a hero of their own creation. As the story begins, you’ll take on the task of designing your own avatar.
The initial selection of customizations is slim to start. Naturally more options unlock through purchase and in-game rewards as the story progresses. Part of the appeal of One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is evolving your style with new options and accessories.
Overall however, the aesthetic appeal of the game is somewhat limited. A lot of items simply don’t seem to fit quite right. It often leads to movements and animations that don’t really look particularly ideal as well.
Even the intent seems a bit questionable. For some reason certain accessories can be set to odd places—for example, why would I want to wear a pair of sunglasses over my belly button? I appreciate that the game wants to grant freedom and create a designing motif, but as far as most avatar creators go, it falls short of the mark.
3D combat with a fast pace
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is pretty much your standard 3D fighting game. Once your hero is ready you’ll be quickly thrust into the arena. The meandering narrative thus begins taking players through a series of combat scenarios.
Combat is easy to learn, because there really isn’t all that much to it. Strike, defend, dash, and throw. These are the basic tenets, with speed being key to execution. Throws can deal more damage, but leave players open to a counter attack. Perfect block timing will also grant fighters a window of advantage.
The only real problem is that the combat soon becomes repetitive, and even dull. Developing a mastery of the game really depends on speed and reaction time. Getting better doesn’t feel like a learning curve so much as a slog sometimes though. New players are likely to be unable to discern any difference in putting forth a real effort from simply button mashing.
Comets and combos
The game does (forgive the pun) “punch” things up a bit with flashy combos and power moves. Of course successful combos will build up a meter that ties to special attacks. Pulling these off does break the monotony and feel rewarding.
Environmental factors may affect battle as well. For example, a pre-emptive warning may suddenly lead to fiery meteors showering the battlefield. These events have an effect on both player an CPU, and can therefore function as either advantage or disadvantage.
You’ll also regularly be able to tag allies into the match. Here is where players get a taste of controlling known entities from the franchise. This not only mixes up combat but also lends some necessary fan service. This is the part where you’ll most feel like you’re playing in One Punch Man‘s world.
While the 3 v. 3 format allows for familiar characters to join in, it still has to work around the title character (AKA Saitama) and his immense power. As such, Saitama is always running a bit late. He never joins a battle until the player has already worn down the opponent enough to constitute a challenge.
A light dose of RPG
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows also attempts to bolster its depth with a number of RPG-style elements. Rather than simply jumping from battle to battle along each narrative beat, the game incorporates a hub world of activities. From here players can choose between various sources for obtaining new missions, shop for new items and accessories, or view goals and achievements, which come along with monetary rewards.
As someone who tends to enjoy RPGs much more than linear fighting games, I appreciate the effort made in expanding the scope of the game. However, for the most part One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows simply feels like a light RPG at best. The skeletal structure of an RPG is there, but there’s little else to flesh it out.
In the end most activities feel like little more than filler. Fetch quests are surprisingly shallow (even for fetch quests)! Ultimately, each hub activity is just a convenient window that leads to the same 3 v. 3 combat action.
Nevertheless, it still adds a bit more depth and substance to the game. It’s difficult to see the RPG elements as anything but a welcome addition for someone who wants more than just a vanilla 3D fighter with little context. That said, players still shouldn’t expect anything resembling a truly deep or complex RPG component. It’s all very much a surface coat rather than something truly baked in to the core of the experience.
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is a flashy 3D fighter with light RPG elements
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows will have the most appeal to the titular Saitama’s existing fan base. You rarely control him directly, but the 3 v. 3 format still manages to mix in familiar characters. That said, the game primarily builds itself around creating, leveling, and redesigning your own hero.
The combat has a quick pace and flashy animations, but it does run the risk of becoming repetitive. RPG elements have been incorporated to counter the stagnation, but they really only function on a shallow surface level. In the end there’s plenty to do, but not always enough variety to keep it engaging over a long period of time.
+ Play as familiar allies in 3 v. 3 combat
+ RPG elements add a bit of depth
– Avatar creator is weak and sometimes lacks luster
– Combat becomes repetitive
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF ONE PUNCH MAN: A HERO NOBODY KNOWS
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5