One Punch Man is one of if not my favorite manga/anime to debut in the last ten years. The concept of OPM has always perplexed and frankly entertained the hell out of me. A practically unbeatable superhero that can defeat pretty much anyone in a single move. I was really excited about this game when it was announced. I’d been waiting for a One Punch Man video game since 2017. And while all the necessary pieces for something great are here. Unfortunately, One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows doesn’t quite capture the feeling of the beloved IP that catapulted Saitama into the mainstream in mid-2015.
Developed by ChunSoft and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, the game is a mixture between an RPG and your standard arena fighting game. You take on the role of a user-created character as you accept missions and quests from civilians in different cities and zones in the One Punch Man continuity. Saitama’s sizeable colleague list of heroes from the anime show up almost back-to-back over the course of the 10-hour campaign. Genos, Mumen Rider, Tanktop Tiger, Handsome Mask, Mosquito Girl, and many more are encountered as you make your way up the hero ranks in the game world.
The missions and quests you take on all intertwine with moments from the anime. Character customization is fun in the sense that you can make your hero look either really awesome or completely ridiculous. From horse heads, and sunglasses, to teardrop tattoos and pretty dresses, your hero is your palette. You can take your avatar and other fighters into 3-on-3 matches and show off your heroics in combat. With a character like Saitama, a protagonist that can defeat anyone with a single punch, you also have to add a special feature just for him. If Saitama joins the fight, he won’t enter the battle until a timer runs down. Said timer gets shorter if the Saitama team manages to do well in combat.
The game captures the heart and comedy of its source material really well. None of the characters take themselves too seriously and at times it felt kind of surreal to digitally interact with characters from such a comically sound fictional world. Every piece of in-game or cutscene dialogue is followed by a one-liner or quip of some sort. I commend A Hero Nobody Know’s ability to maintain the tone and general feel of the anime without getting wrapping itself up in typical video game storytelling trappings.
I found that the campaign and it’s cutscenes were very straightforward (yet dramatic) and fitting considering the off-kilter and generally awkward presentation of the anime. You have the option between English and Japanese voices, which helps he presentation. Both are very good and are faithful recreations of their small-screen counterparts. I will say that the graphics are among some of the most impressive I’ve seen in an anime game in this generation. The cel-shading is the best I’ve seen since the last Naruto: Ultimate Ninja game.
Where the game lacks in is in the core gameplay. The fighting mechanics are incredibly frustrating for the fact that they’re just too simple. As in most arena fighters, you switch between two buttons for light and heavy attacks (Square, Triangle. X, Y. You know the drill). However, You can only max out at about a 6 or 7 hit combo, it just isn’t satisfying. There’s no real variation in any of the moves and most of the characters feel the same.
Players will execute special moves with a single button press. While these special moves are satisfying to watch, I feel like I’ve done nothing to achieve such a flashy animation. Every character has this awkward get-up animation that slows down gameplay immensely, really frustrating me. I wouldn’t necessarily describe the combat as something broken, but something that definitely requires some work. The pacing makes it really difficult to stay engaged at times. Combat is a step up from last year’s Jump Force, but it doesn’t incentivize any kind of local or online play because it’s still rather clunky and just isn’t that fun.
This game is a short and sweet reminder of why the One Punch Man IP is so popular, but there’s a lot left to be desired. A more refined combat system and a longer campaign would serve this title well. As it stands, the $60 price tag is far from worth it. If you love Saitama as I do, check this one out. If you’re a casual fan, give a few months to go on sale.