My Hero One’s Justice 2 review: Less ultra, more normal

Bandai Namco
Bandai Namco /

While it may offer some thrills for diehard fans of the anime, My Hero One’s Justice 2 feels more like a cash grab than a fully-fleshed out experience.

Title: My Hero One’s Justice 2
Developer: Byking
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed on), Xbox One, PC/Steam and Nintendo Switch
Release date: March 13, 2020

I love My Hero Academia. How much do I love it, you ask? I write weekly recaps of the show that — aside from being poorly written and viewed by approximately six people — detail the extraordinary cheesiness but also tremendous heart that the show has. I’ve always been a believer in the comic book, superhero nerd culture that, these days, has permeated throughout almost all of pop culture. I genuinely can’t get enough of it, and My Hero Academia has an understanding of how to properly pay homage to this culture I love better than most.

It’s my fervent love for the anime that compelled me to check out My Hero One’s Justice 2, the sequel to the first game that released in August of 2018. Perhaps I should’ve known that the relatively short period between the games was a sign that this was — as is common with anime properties — set up to be a classic franchise-milking situation. Unfortunately, my presumptions came true as My Hero One’s Justice 2 is an average game that lacks some serious depth and polish that many other fighters on the market exhibit.

On the surface, One’s Justice 2 isn’t a bad looking game. The character models capture the essence of what makes them unique in the anime, even if it’s not something that you’ll be looking to show off. However, the roughness and lack of resources put into the game can be seen when you start to examine it closer. For starters, it was disappointing that the game doesn’t include the English voice actors. I know that saying you like the dub of an anime is, for some odd and probably pretentious reason, a crime at the highest level of anime fan legislation, but I was nonetheless depressed. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but given the popularity of My Hero Academia it feels like an omen.

When it comes to the story mode, the game follows all the events from the middle of Season 3 and concludes with the middle of Season 4. But don’t expect that much of a grand retelling of the anime, as most of the story bits are done in a comic book-style slideshow. There are, maybe, three total fully-recreated cutscenes from the anime that goes on display, and that just echoes the aforementioned notion about the game feeling half-baked. You’ll fight, mostly, the same battles that take place in the anime with the appropriate characters, but there are hardly any moments that make them feel unique.

My Hero One's Justice 2 - Bandai Namco 1
Bandai Namco /

With the exception of a few fights that conclude the story, all battles are simply one-round fights. It all feels like a glorified arcade mode, which there already is, and it’s a shame that on the current hardware of today that things like this are apparent. How am I getting a more faithful story mode in something like Dragon Ball Z Budokai for the Playstation 2 than I am with a title being released in 2020? You’re far better off just watching the anime or reading the manga, and I’d recommend only playing the mode if you’re just a completionist nut like me that enjoys getting trophies and achievements.

So while the lack of any interesting developments in the story mode is disappointing, the good news is that My Hero One’s Justice 2 is a perfectly adequate fighter to play. Combat basically works in a rock-paper-scissors type of system, with there being primarily light attacks, yellow attacks that take a few hits to interrupt, and red heavy attacks that can break through blocks. There are also special super attacks unique to each character referred to as “Plus Ultras” that can be used once you’ve acquired enough energy.

Fights can be exhilarating, at times, and some minor improvements like a stamina meter that lets you dodge attacks at a much better rate, making fights a little less floaty than the original. You can also use Plus Ultras of your sidekicks, which makes choosing the right team all the more interesting. It’s a generally solid system, even if it’s fundamentally basic and is by no means on the levels of great, technical fighters like Street Fighter or Tekken. However, this simplicity does come at a cost in the sense that you may get sick of it after a while.

While it is helpful that One’s Justice 2 boasts an excellent roster of 40 playable characters — 18 of which are new — there’s still going to come a time when the lack of depth becomes apparent. This could all be due to my general ineptness when it comes to mastering fighting games, but I still commend the developers for at least making each character feel different to play than the others rather than just solely being an aesthetic change. Some characters are about speed and precision like Izuku Midoriya, more ranged fighters like Shoto Todoroki, and giant hulking wrecking balls like Kendo Rappa.

My Hero One's Justice 2 - Bandai Namco 2
Bandai Namco /

But aside from the new characters, the biggest change in One’s Justice 2 has to be a revamped mission mode. It revolves around you starting your own hero agency and spending the points you’ve accrued across the various other game modes to recruit different characters. You’re then tasked with a conquest-like board that you need to fully explore in order to complete the mission. Plus, the more you use certain characters, the more they’ll level up and be better prepared for the harder missions later on.

On the one hand, I appreciate at least some kind of RPG-like system for a My Hero Academia. It at least marginally satiates my appetite — or you could say dream — of a turn-based, classic Final Fantasy type of RPG that I genuinely believe the franchise would be suited for. I actually appreciated a mode that required a level of grinding, even if the mode as a whole sounds much more intricate and complex than it actually is. There are also special abilities you can equip to your agency that you can unlock by playing modes (e.g. gaining back some health if you win a fight with a Plus Ultra), which adds at least some amount of depth.

If there’s anything I can say about One’s Justice 2 that’s entirely and purely good, it would be the robust customization options. You can purchase different costume colors, and even individual pieces for your head, legs, torso, and more. This level of customization was a blast, and my weakness for unlockable costumes as a feature in a video was greatly satisfied. There are so many possibilities in making your characters look unique that I can imagine it’ll be the driving force for those who continue playing the game (although they can’t be seen in story mode and, seemingly, mission mode, which is unfortunate).

Look, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is fine. It’s an absolutely fine game. The combat lacks depth, but it can still be fun to mix things up and try using some of your favorite characters. The customization options are fantastic, too. The problem is, well, everything else. The entire package reaks of unfulfilled promise for sake of simply capitalizing on the popularity of the license. The story mode is a borderline joke that will actually make My Hero Academia seem like a cringy mess rather than capture the heart of what makes it so special. Mission mode is an entertaining excursion that works for those that enjoy level grinding, but it’s painfully underdeveloped and tedious. There are underdeveloped ideas like a 4-player mode that can only be done with exactly 4 players (ridiculous, I know) and a lackluster online mode that I didn’t even have time to cover in this review.

Saying that the game works for those that, like myself, are huge fans of the anime isn’t a justifiable excuse for how average it is. Sure, I love playing as my boy Midoriya (who I cherish greatly), but there comes a point when you have to just view things objectively, and objectively speaking this isn’t a game that works.

My Hero One's Justice 2. 5.5. My Hero One’s Justice 2 isn’t a terrible game, it’s just completely uninterested in being a particularly exceptional one. While it may offer some thrills for diehard fans of the anime, My Hero One’s Justice 2 feels more like a cash grab than a fully-fleshed out experience.. Byking.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.