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access_time November 6, 2019 at 6:00 AM in Microsoft by David Poole

Impressions from the One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows Beta

The popular action comedy anime and manga, One Punch Man, is finally getting a console game. One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, like many anime fighters, is published by Bandai Namco and developed by Spike Chunsoft. When the game was announced, many were pointing out the elephant in the room: Saitama’s overpowered punches. Luckily, not only does this fighting game find a great way to tackle that, but it actually does it fairly well too. The closed beta was this past weekend and we had a chance to take part in it. Here’s what we thought of the game so far.

The beta starts with players picking one of two generic avatar types. One was a standard fighter while the other one was a power type, each having their own sets of moves. One the player selects their avatar, they’re placed in a virtual lobby modeled after the Hero Association with other online players. While these features weren’t fully available in the beta, it gives players an idea of what to expect for the game. Those familiar with games like Jump Force or Dragon Ball Xenoverse would already know this system. For now, the main option is to play online with other players, or locally against a computer.

One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows does something rather interesting with the protagonist Saitama. Since his punches can literally destroy anyone with a single blow, this game still works that way. With that in mind, the game is a 3-on-3 fighter with two options: with or without Saitama. If players choose to go with Saitama available, then the game changes the rules up a bit. Players can choose two characters and only then can they pick Saitama. When the match starts, Saitama starts making his way to the battlefield, taking nearly five minutes to reach his destination. Upon reaching the fight, Saitama can decimate the opposing foes with the simplest of punches. This is different than the announcement trailer, which had a significantly shorter time for Saitama to appear.

Having Saitama set up this way makes for a unique strategy. The player will only have access to two of their characters, putting them at a disadvantage if their opponent doesn’t choose Saitama. It’s almost like a survival mode in that case, where players will either hold on till help arrives, or they just have to be better than their opponent. If they do well in battle, they’ll often earn bonuses that bring Saitama to the battlefield faster. This helps to balance out a fight where both players pick Saitama.

Now what happens when Saitama fights himself? Well the result is rather hilarious, and probably what you would expect. Both Saitamas can exchange punches, whether they be normal attacks or “killer moves”. The other will take the hit without flinching, but they’ll still take damage. It’s a tough battle to gauge because both players are technically on equal ground at that point. Either way, it’s rare for this event to happen, as one Saitama will likely arrive before the other rather than at the same time.

Now enough about the main character, who else does this game offer for the roster? Well, the game has a focus on season one of the anime, giving a few favorites so far. The beta offered seven other characters as well as the player avatar. Genos, Speed-o’-Sound Sonic, Mumen Rider, Silver Fang, Terrible Tornado, Atomic Samurai, and Deep Sea King were all playable. Each one has their own special moves and play styles, giving plenty of room for experimenting. The game will offer more characters like Hellish Blizzard and Carnage Kabuto, with likely more to reveal. They’ll also all use their Japanese voice actors, adding a bit more authenticity to the experience.

While playing the beta, I tried out each available character to see who fit my play style. Genos was unsurprisingly easy for me to grasp, with great combo potential and good mix ups. One of his killer moves, the Boost Attack, launches him toward his opponent for a series of volleying strikes. This launches the opponent in the air, making them a perfect target for another killer move, the incinerate cannon. He also has a killer move known as machinegun blows, which is actually pretty similar to one of Saitama’s.

Another character I grew a liking to was Terrible Tornado. Not quite as fast as Genos, Tornado uses slow psychic strikes, preferably from a distance. Her heavy attack launches boulders toward the enemy at a slow pace, but it has a psychic field concealing it. It’s surprisingly effective at keeping your distance from the opponent. When the opponent does manage to get close, her killer move, psychic crush, is a great counter that deals a ton of damage. She can be pretty easily countered, especially against faster characters like Speed-o’-Sound Sonic or Silver Fang. Regardless, she was still often on my team.

While I never found a third main stay character, I often rotated around various options. Speed-o’-Sound Sonic is fast and has a lot of great combo potential, but I would accidentally use the wrong killer moves at the wrong times. Another option was Mumen Rider, who was a rather hilarious character to play as. Not much you can do with a character that rides a bike, so he’ll often ride it into you. Better yet, he’ll often throw it at you, though it’s sadly pretty easy to dodge. While Saitama is a solid candidate for a third option, his lack of availability makes him difficult to rely on. No matter who I chose, the depth of the combat was pretty surprising.

Players will be able to use normal and heavy attacks, which can interchange between each other for combos. Normal attacks can turn into charge attacks when held down, performing a guard break. Guarding is fairly easy enough, but if timed right, you’ll perform a perfect guard, which teleports you behind the opponent. Holding down the right trigger will sprint, using up stamina, but allowing for quick escapes. The left trigger combined with various buttons will perform killer moves. Using it with the right stick pressed instead, it performs a mode change. Changing modes gives a temporary boost in power, and allows for a super killer move right another press of the right stick. These moves do a significant chunk of damage, and look stylish at the same time.

The visuals stick close to the anime, doing a good job of capturing the different expressions of characters. Saitama especially transitions between his serious and comedic moments perfectly. Stages are fairly wide open, seemingly altering just the aesthetic. The three stages in the beta fucntioned identically, but they did seem to offer different hazards. While not seen online, playing offline revealed occasional hazards to deal damage to players. NPC heroes fighting close by and giant monster threats will often interrupt the fight for a few seconds. Drones will also drop power-up items on the battlefield too, gaining extra attack or defense power.

While many licensed anime fighters tend to come out generic, this one was much more competent. One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows may look like it at first glance, but upon closer inspection, it’s a surprisingly deep experience. We currently don’t have a release date for the game, but it will likely release some time next year. Fans of the series may be in for a surprise hit, quite possibly in the form of a single punch. One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows will release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. We’ll report on updates as they happen, but let us know in the comments if you’re looking forward to the game.

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