One-Punch Man joins the list of popular titles to get its own video game featuring all the overpowered hi-jinks you can expect.
The standard format evolution of Japanese media franchises tends to be Light Novel, Manga, Anime, OVA, Video Game (and probably a Netflix adaptation at some point) and One-Punch Man finally gets its turn, courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment.
But don’t let the fancy trailer fool you, you don’t get to always play as title character Saitama, aka the One-Punch Man, that often. In fact this game is closer to games like Dragonball Xenoverse and Jump Force, where you’ll create your own custom character and get a chance to explore the story-line universe from a different perspective and occasionally have Saitama available as an assist character to save you from a beat-down by the enemy.
Not only that, you’ll also get to try out different Battle Styles as well as customise your “Killer Moves” aka special attacks using techniques from the popular heroes from the series. Battle Styles and Killer Moves can be unlocked by doing side quests to build affinity with various characters.
The character creator seems quite robust at first glance but you’ll soon realise not everything may be as it seems. Designs are mostly fixed apart from colour adjustment on fixed areas while fine-tuning the placement of accessories can be a painful and slow experience – expect clipping issues to occur. Certain Battle Styles may also overwrite your carefully crafted work if you’re not careful.
Story mode seems to cover the first season of the anime, based on the game cover which shows Boros, the anime season’s final boss which is probably also the story mode’s final opponent. But there are a number of side quests which flesh out the One-Punch Man universe and its characters as well as to keep you somewhat occupied and a distraction from the eventual grind.
You can also take your customised hero, or story characters you have unlocked, into local and online VS battles. The game limits you to only challenging higher level opponents so it won’t seem like bullying because you picked the fight yourself but I have yet to try the system after my experience with the battle system against the AI. More experienced players may be able to harness the power of perfect dodges, sidesteps, counters and blocking but casual gamers may just get frustrated as some point when it feels like you can’t block/dodge attacks while your opponent (AI or Human) dances rings around you.
Game play is quite simplistic with its basic RPG format of “quest, fight, grind, repeat” and the battle system leaves much to be desired in my opinion – overwhelming power/stats win fights more than actual skill which I suppose might be a nod to the story universe. It also feels like there’s a bit of a “scissor, paper, stone” setup with the different Battle Styles but it takes time to get and level up all the ones available.
Random aspects in battles, such as whether you get an assist hero or a random event, also leave much to be desired as they can benefit or hurt you. It can be hilarious or annoying (depending on your mood) when you almost win a tough fight only to lose when a random drone decides to explode and kill you. Good news is that you can turn them off when you decide to play against human opponents.
The game offers monthly online events to earn tokens to buy items to improve your levelling game or more items for your hero but creating your own character and levelling them up to become a strong S Class hero is only one part of the game experience (and which involves a lot of repeat quest grinding at some point). Of the three types of events I have seen listed, I’ve only had the chance to try the quest grind event and am somewhat looking forward to the group event which sounds more interesting. Events last for only a few days and the tokens for a month so I guess that’s how they hope to keep players active constantly.
One-Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows tries to meet the expectations of fans by combining two genres but never really goes in-depth enough to satisfy either type of fan. For single-player type fans, even though there are a number of battle styles to choose from as well as multiple customisation options for your hero’s look, the simplistic RPG system just doesn’t make the game exciting for long-term playability. For competitive type fans, the battle system leaves much to be desired and you’ll probably meet opponents who will use the cheesiest options to win their battles or just overwhelm you with their hyper-grinded power levels.