My Hero One’s Justice is the game adaptation of smash hit anime My Hero Academia. If you don’t know My Hero Academia then this probably isn’t the game for you, as My Hero One’s Justice launches its story mode partway through season 2 of the show, and runs to midway through season 3. You’re expected to come with some knowledge of the show, and of its characters, as My Hero One’s Justice doesn’t cover any old ground.

For those needing to be caught up to speed, in the world of My Hero Academia characters can be born with Quirks -- superhero-esque powers. Our heroes use their Quirks, such as the power to create explosions using their glycerol sweat or the ability to control gravity, to fight evil and bring order to the world. Of course, with all heroes come villains, and My Hero certainly has an array of them.

The release presents us with a number of modes to leap into straight away. There’s the story mode, which is reasonably brief and offers a good introduction to how each character works in battle, showcasing how their individual Quirks translate to game form. Some characters work much better than others, however, often with surprising results. Bakugou Katsuki, for example, is undoubtedly one of the most powerful characters in the anime and manga, but feels clunky and awkward to play as.

Many of the early chapters in story mode serve as a tutorial for the game mechanics: learning how to unleash Quirks, how to gain the upper hand against your opponent, and most importantly ,how to properly put together combo moves. The beginning of story mode does feel like it drags a bit as it’s almost too easy, but the game’s difficulty soon ramps up, often to an infuriating degree. Each chapter is ranked based on how well you fight, with S rank being the highest. Gaining S rank, winning the chapter, and fulfilling hidden requirements lets you unlock customisation equipment.

Completing the game’s story mode once unlocks the ability to play through from the villains' perspectives, which offers a fresh and interesting take not found in the anime as well as the chance to get hands on with some of the Quirks you’ve previously been fighting against.

Story mode is the least My Hero One’s Justice has to offer. One of the more interesting modes, mission mode, sets up stages to be played in succession while attempting to meet certain criteria. This mode is really enjoyable, and it presents a good opportunity to challenge your skills, hone your tactics, and figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each fighter.

My Hero One’s Justice has a few multiplayer modes, too, including local co-op, online ranked, and unranked battles. For the online modes, matchmaking runs quickly and smoothly, and plays almost exactly like a local match.

Needless to say, combat itself is the same across all modes. Attacks are mapped to each button, with combos playing a key role, and each attack differs depending on the Quirk of the character you use. Icy-hot Todoroki can use ice or fire moves depending on which buttons you’re using, whereas creation expert Momo summons up different weapons to pummel her opponents. Attacking helps fill a meter, which can be used to unleash stronger ‘Plus Ultra’ moves. Periodically through story mode, and as standard in other modes, players have the ability to assign support characters, whose attacks can be used after their own meter fills up, or you can save it for a special buddy move.

There are a lot of nuances to figure out in My Hero One’s Justice, and this can leave combat feeling unrefined and chaotic, at least initially. For the most part, there’s an element of skill and strategy to the way each character fights, and it’s just a case of figuring out how to employ strong tactics. That said, a lot of the time it does feel like you're balancing on a tightrope of pure luck. One wrong move and you’re caught up in a whirlwind of attacks that you can’t escape from.

Aesthetically, My Hero One’s Justice is really appealing. As you’d expect from an anime adaptation in 2018, the characters are well-designed, colourful, and vibrant. Cutscenes are done in the style of a comic book, which is a really cool touch and a great nod to the series' origins. In the heat of battle, with punches being thrown and special moves being deployed, the frame rate does see drops now and then, but thankfully it's nothing game limiting or frustrating.

Much has been made online about the audio for My Hero One’s Justice, and yes, it’s subtitled only. For the most part, this is irrelevant, as it works for the comic book-esque cutscenes, but it does get a little frustrating when you're in battle hearing voice lines, but you have no idea what characters are actually saying. Or, even worse, you have subs to read while you're trying to fight for your life.

Conclusion

My Hero One’s Justice is a perfectly adequate fighting game, and a good adaptation of its source material - but it's not much more than that. It provides a great opportunity to play as some much loved (and hated) characters, showcasing the variety of powers each has on offer while being a fun, engaging, and challenging anime-based title, but it's not quite the heroic effort that we were hoping for.