One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is an arena fighter developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by Bandai Namco. Fans of the anime (like myself) couldn’t wait to play this, but did it hold up?
The premise of One Punch Man is that powerful monsters and villains have been wreaking havoc in the cities. To combat them, the Hero Association employs superheroes to stop them. The heroes are ranked from Class C to Class S.
The main game seems to be 90% story-driven, focusing on season one of the anime and Saitama’s story of him becoming a hero. You are tasked with creating your own hero, and are able to pick your own hero name and look. New character customisation pieces unlock the further you progress in the game. There’s a small room to live in but it serves little purpose. There are furniture pieces available to buy to liven it up, though your room and the way you look doesn’t affect your hero’s stats or relationships with other characters, so you’ve got the freedom do anything you want.
You are then dropped into the main game where you will take part in several missions defeating various different villains. Along the way, you will encounter a lot of the villains from the show, as well as heroes from the anime like Mumen Rider or Genos, who you can team up with to take them out.
You will find yourself mainly free-roaming, and you run around a small town going to the headquarters or talking to other AI heroes around town and doing side missions for them. It may have role-playing mechanics, but you essentially have to level yourself up to get stronger and increase your rank. Each battle rewards you with unique points you can use to increase your health, how much damage you do etc.
There’s also the ability to interact with other characters from the anime and improve your “relationship” with them, which adds some more depth to the experience. You can learn more about them as well as learn their moves for use in combat. Combat is simple, though can sometimes be frustrating. The AI has a constant love for blocking and getting you at the silliest moments. It also seems that when you knock down an AI you can’t do any more damage to them until they get back up.
Killer moves are also part of the game; you can string a couple of good killer moves to destroy you opponent. It helps to put the points you earn to increase your character into this. There is a unique element during some fights where you have to try and stay alive whilst a stronger hero is on their way called the Hero Arrival System. A small window will show up with the hero running towards the screen and a countdown timer. The more damage you do to an opponent, the quicker the hero will arrive.
Talking of combat, each character has a set fighting style. You will start with only one fighting style and move but different styles are unlocked as you progress. Most moves are unique to a particular fighting style. Some styles do feel stronger than others, but it’s fun to try out each of them and test the Killer moves.
Of course, the main character of the anime is Saitama, who became a hero for fun. He trained himself to the point where he broke his “limit” and can effortlessly defeat any opponent with a single punch. In the game, he features as one of the heroes who can assist you in battle. Even though his one punch ends matches very quickly, there is something funny and also weirdly satisfying about it.
I found it became a bit of a grind, playing simple 1v1 or up to 3v3 tag battles until you gain enough hero points to continue to the next section of the game. I wish there was an option to focus more on the story than having to do a lot of side quests!
I would recommend playing in offline mode, as even though it’s nice seeing what heroes other people have created, it does feel a little crowded as everyone is normally huddled around the NPCs you need to speak with to move the story along.
Graphically the shell-shaded style is beautiful, however, some of the stages could have been put together better. They feel very empty at times, with nothing really going for them. It would’ve been nice it if they had a bit more going on in the background to give them a more interactive and immersive feel.
Voice-over is limited, with the majority of the dialogue delivered via text. The cutscenes that they put together are great and keep true to the anime voices. However, it seems your character never speaks during them, even though your character can talk elsewhere. Not all of the major characters are in this game at present, so we could be seeing some DLC on the cards to add more fighters down the line.
If you are a fan of the One-Punch Man anime, it’s a no brainer and you should pick this game up! It’s enjoyable creating your own hero and rising up the hero ranks. However, in the end I did feel a little bit disappointed as it takes a lot of work to rise up the ranks, with way too many side quests needing completing.