One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows takes the arena fighter approach to the beloved anime with mixed results. So, is it worth your time?
One Punch Man is considered by many to be one of the best and most inventive animes of the past decade. It centres on a hero called Saitama, who has trained for so long that he has reached the absolute limit of power, which has imparted unto him the ability to kill anything with a single punch. It’s ridiculous yet self-aware, and Saitama exists in a world with the usual city destroying crises that tend to regularly plague anime universes. The anime uses its world to poke fun at anime hero stories more broadly.
Enter One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, an arena fighter which takes the character and setting from the anime, but casts you as a character that you create yourself. Between the usual arena fighting battles which have you switching between up to three characters against a cast of baddies, you’ll be trying to make a name for yourself by completing odd jobs and side quests for the denizens of your home city.
Structurally, all of this is mostly fine, if a bit uninspired, like having a quick text conversation with someone, and then tracking down or delivering whatever random item they need help with – A to B to C, with nothing in-between. Once you find your way into the game’s many combat encounters, some flaws start to show themselves.
It mainly comes down to the feel of the thing, with the game flitting between feeling both too sluggish and too frantic at a moment’s notice. For instance, the strangely long amount of time it takes to stand up after being knocked to the ground by an enemy, wherein neither player can do anything as you’re invincible in that state. Or take your heavy attack, which takes so long to wind up that you’ll likely never want to use it.
The thing that makes A Hero Nobody Knows unique is also how the developers get around the problem of having a character that can kill anything with one punch – just have him take forever to show up. The Hero Arrival system in the game is pretty funny, but it tends to put you in the same state for each fight, just trying to survive until the actually powerful character arrives, over and over again.
Saitama – being the most powerful – also takes the longest to arrive, but other lesser heroes will show up relatively quickly. It kind of defeats the purpose of having a unique character for the majority of the story mode though, wherein you’re basically killing time until you can play somebody else.
Playing an overpowered character like one of the heroes is of course far more fun, where you get to just wail on your unfortunate opponent with a selection of specialty moves. This is when the game shines, but it’s a shame that the challenge faced by weaker characters doesn’t feel as fulfilling.
There are a variety of opportunities to craft your character into something unique via different styles of fighting like power and speed, which you can focus on and gain expertise in. Special moves can be unlocked and equipped, and as you allies join your party you’ll also pick up a couple of moves from them.
Chances are that you’re just going to find a single run of moves that work for you, that you can reliably deploy against any enemy, and will just repeatedly do unleash until the end. If you’re a huge fan of One Punch Man, A Hero Nobody Knows then this will probably tickle your fandom bone, but for those who don’t have a love for the series, this may not be the best place to start.
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is available now for PS4 and Xbox One.