Review: One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows

Hey boys and girls: I’m back! Been away for over a month but it feels great to be back! I bring with me a review for the long-waited game of the hero nobody knows: Saitama!

Developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by Bandai Namco, One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is a fighting game with elements of exploration where you create your hero, train and customize him while accomplishing missions and climbing the ranks of the Hero Association or interacting with your favorite characters from the anime/manga. The game follows events from the first season of the show, allowing you to walk side-by-side with the mighty Saitama to defeat enemies across the city.

I need to confess that, although I knew the character and his unbeatable aura, I haven’t watched its anime before getting this game. When our LifeisXbox mighty boss made me responsible for reviewing it, I started watching it on Netflix (where the 12 episodes of the 1st session are available) and quickly fell in love with it.

For those unfamiliar with the name, OPM is a creation from the mangaká One from 2009, first published in webcomics format. In 2012, Yusuke Murata and the publisher Shueisha (you probably know it by the Shonen Jump magazine) started publishing it in manga format. In 2015, an anime produced by Madhouse (the studio responsible for Hunter x Hunter, Death Note, Trigun and Animatrix, among many others) was aired in Japanese television and, after that, it conquered the world. Its plot revolves around a man named Saitama, who starts the series as a superhero wannabe and, after three years of intense training, becomes so strong that he can destroy his enemies, no matter how strong they are, in a single blow. Soon he gets involved with the Hero Association and, along with other heroes, starts facing bigger and bigger threats in his search for a worthy enemy.

You didn’t see it coming!!

The special thing about this show is its comical approach to a hero’s way of life and its cast of characters, who are pretty unique (like in My Hero One’s Justice world, the world of OPM has tons of superheroes with very unique abilities). The visual of characters, enemies and monsters (as much as its overall graphics) are far from remarkable, but it just adds to the comical aspect of the anime. But when things get more solemn (during fights and more dramatic moments), the visuals change for something much more serious and detailed. Even Saitama’s visual change from that stupid expression for something much more respectable.

But let’s stop talking about the anime and see everything OPM A Hero Nobody Knows has to offer. Please note that this is going to be a very unusual review, full of references to other animes and titles – something that we avoid doing here at Life is Xbox but became necessary in this review. That said, let’s go!

Get ready for this!

What we liked!

  • Sound: The anime already has an over the top soundtrack (the opening song is a blast! Check it out when possible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atxYe-nOa9w), but the developer walked that extra mile and delivered some original compositions that perfectly capture the essence of the show – with even more rock and roll! It’s a matter of a fact that the in-game music may become repetitive after a while, but it doesn’t take the shine away from what was presented in this game. Oh, and I almost forgot to tell that the game also contains great voice work (in Japanese, at least, with the voices you already know from the show and many original ones too) and sound effects. Kudos to the developer!
  • Good customization: The customization and development of your character received a lot of attention from the devs. From the beginning, you have a very limited array of options to create your character, but as soon as you start climbing the ranks of the Hero Association, many new options for you to customize him/her become available – from physical aspects to clothing and accessories. It isn’t unusual to see heroes from other players with wings in their hands, horns, and floats around their chests. There are dozens of different items that will give you access to thousands of different combinations, granting you’re very unlikely to see two equal heroes roaming on the streets of this game.
Some people take the customization too far…

Somewhere between

  • Visuals: The visuals of the game, pretty much like the anime, are very simplistic. Being so faithful the source material should place it in the ‘What we liked’ session of the review, but the game goes beyond the fights and creates a world for you to explore and interact with (like in Naruto series of games). A world that, unfortunately, has nothing in special or interesting to see. ‘But what about the characters and fighting visuals’ you ask me. Well, the characters of the anime are perfectly recreated in cell-shaded 3D graphics like you could expect from games from Bandai Namco. But this isn’t a game focused on the characters from the anime: it’s focused on the creation of your hero and making him/her shine in the Hero Association. Making your character unique is something interesting, but combining odd clothing, faces, hair colors and shoes doesn’t feel appealing enough to keep you coming back for more. Especially when even the special effects from the combat don’t feel special at all.
  • Exploration: Players who enjoy exploring the world from your favorite anime and going beyond what is shown in the anime will be very well-served with OPM A Hero Nobody Knows. You can freely walk the streets of the city, visiting areas from the show and new areas where you can interact with citizens and other heroes, do tasks and errands for those in need, buy new clothes and accessories to your character and his house. The problem is that this exploration is very limited and seems to be here only to add more content to the game: you will be running between areas and looking for characters to complete missions in the most uninteresting way imaginable.
  • Different fighting styles: The combos and attack patterns your character uses are linked to what fighting style you have selected for your hero before. Choosing between standard (the initial one), power, weapon, psychic, machine and monster (each one with its own small variations), what will change its fighting stance, light and heavy attacks and killer moves available. The killer moves you can use are also customizable and related to what fighting style you’ve selected. The bad aspect is that you can’t mix attacks from different styles, like using a weapon character with machine technics for instance (what would make it even more interesting). You can learn different killer moves from other NPCs when completing missions and progressing in the story.
  • Fighting system: The fighting system in OPM A Hero Nobody Knows is very simple (way more simplistic than I wished it to be), but still very unique. The battles take place in 3D arenas with invisible walls in which you can use light and strong attacks to make combos, use killer moves (special technics) or activate a ‘Super Saiyan’ mode to unleash your ultimate attack (with some really cool visuals). During the fight, some drones will deploy powerups that can give you temporary boosts or replenish your health (and can help you turn the tide of the battle). While fighting, you’re also subject to some sort of menace that can interfere in the battle like a lightning storm, an alien invasion or even some other hero fighting in the vicinity that can enter the battlefield to hit one of the combatants. And the most interesting characteristic from this game fighting mechanic (yes, I intentionally left the best to the end): other heroes (be it characters from the anime or other players – only if you’re playing it online) can join you in the middle of a fight, becoming a switchable ally in the combat and lending a very welcome hand to defeat your enemies. Just consider that enemies can do the same, turning a fight you were about to win into something almost impossible to beat.
Customizing my hero’s fighting style and technics before entering a mission

What we disliked

  • Where is the local versus mode? How in the world can an anime fighting game not have a local versus mode? Or better saying, hide a versus mode? The versus mode, which should be accessible right from the starting menu, only becomes available after you advance in the story mode. So, if you’re about to pick this game and start playing with friends on your couch, you will first need to advance in the story. Here you screwed up, guys.
  • Repetitive: One of the most annoying aspects of this game is its repetitive nature. And oh, boy, even for a fighting game, you would expect something a little different in its many story and side missions. But unfortunately, this isn’t the case. And besides the story missions that try to recreate meaningful moments from the anime, 95% of the time you will be running from one location to another to fight your e enemies in missions that can be simply described as ‘go to the location and defeat the monsters’. The remaining 5% include talking to NPCs and doing some delivery tasks (that also include defeating one or more monsters in the process). If the fighting were more interesting, at least, its repetitive nature wouldn’t be so notable. And irksome.
Where are my pretty boys Jimmy and Alexie? I want to hold them very close to me

Score: 65%
I believe I understand Spike Chunsoft’s option to make the first game of the One Punch Man franchise a fighting game with RPG/exploration elements instead of a pure fighting one. How could you remotely represent the difference of power between its characters? Or even represent the virtually unbeatable protagonist? Well, Arc System had a great idea with Dragon Ball FighterZ, so maybe they would need to do something similar. But instead, they allowed us to walk the shoes of our favorite characters and live the life of a superhero wannabe. The game was a fun experience for me – but only for a limited time, hence the overall experience quickly starts feeling uninteresting and the lack of content becomes noticeable. If you’re a fan of the series or just enjoy anime-related games, you can have a good time with this game, but I can’t see me returning to this game in the future – even with the already announced new characters in the season pass that are hardly supposed to bring something new or worth checking to the game. And God, I hope I’m wrong.

Written by Rafael

Xbox writer for LifeisXbox

Between an Excel spreadsheet and trying to conquer the world (one game at a time), he’s ready to share his experiences about every title he plays. Be it to praise a game or to bash it, you will always find an honest opinion in his texts.