Even with Jump Force on the horizon and a slate of other exciting titles from Bandai Namco coming down the pipe, I’ve been watching My Hero One’s Justice most closely. At first I was hoping for another dedicated 2D fighter but, after the gameplay trailers dropped, my aspiration for the series changed. It had similarities to one of my all-time favorite Shonen Jump video games, the Naruto: Clash of the Ninja series ot Gamecube, a party brawler rivaling even Smash Brothers at its peak. If it could capture even a fraction of the magic of that game, then I told myself I’d be a loyal player for the duration of the franchise. At this years Anime Expo, I got a chance to try it out.
What I got wasn’t quite Clash of the Ninja, but it wasn’t Ninja Storm either. The combo system is more remicient of the former, with single button combos combined with directional inputs to mix up moves and two buttons dedicated to special Quirk attacks. Each character also has an ultimate attack that is ridiculously easy to work into a combo and relies on only a triple button input, making execution a breeze.
The most distinct mechanic of One’s Justice was definitely the ubiquity of armor moves. It seems like every character has a few, coming out of dashes, hard attacks, and even some combo openers. They’re most similar to many Back+Attack moves in Clash of the Ninja where you absorb several hits during your attack animation then follow through while the enemy is still in attack stun.
I’m not sure if they’ve been given a particular name, but the armor attacks are obviously meant to be a prominent feature of play with the distinct orange glow the character takes to signal their use. Very quickly they became one of the biggest aspect of fighting, trying to predict or lure your opponent into using the the armor attacks to take advantage of their recovery time or even play chicken by absorbing their armor attack with your own armor attack and completing on your combo.
My limited experience with All Might and Stain gave me the impression One’s Justice will be leaning more toward the series power scale than trying to make a perfectly balanced roster. Among the UA students matches were (mostly) even, but the pros seem to have a distinct advantage when it comes to raw damage, even more than justifiably compensating for their lack of ranged options. Each of their rush attacks also ruined some shield attacks, which was particularly scary.
The match formats are much closer to Ninja Storm, 2v2 bouts set up in a best of 3 with each player choosing their primary character and two support characters that can be used for everything from pressure, to interrupts, to combo chaining. Notably the support characters have a pretty considerable cooldown and start out empty. It’s was usually about halfway through a fight before their first use became available.
Graphically the game went for a lean look even more minimalist than Ninja Storm itself but added some fun with destructible environments and novel interactions. Most surfaces have an inact layer over a battle damaged one so launching your enemy into a wall will cause pieces to fall off as if the surface is breaking. Comically, I even managed to throw people into walls so hard they got buried head-first into the vertical surface down to their waist with their exposed legs kicking before freeing themselves.
Hopefully the interactions don’t stop there. I distinctly remember witnessing Deku running across a wall while dodging projectiles in one of the trailers, although I was unable to figure out how to do that myself, so I’m not sure if it was cut or I just wasn’t able to pick up the trick with Shigaraki trying to disintegrate me. It will be interesting to see which direction the game builds out as we near the release. Although your mileage may vary with the customizability options shown in trailers, it looks like they're adding a few extra bits on top of a raw fighting engine.
While not quite the 4-player brawler of my dreams, I was surprised by how much fun I had with One’s Justice. I definitely spent the most time on it, returning to the booth almost everyday to make sure I try out a few new ideas and spend some time on each of the available characters. Of the four titles Bandai Namco had on display, I’m most convinced I’m going to be happy with this one. If it’s not too late for suggestions, though, how about adding a four-player custom mode?