I was introduced to One Punch Man (the anime) by Ibrahim, who said it was stupidly awesome. Since those two words are some of my favourites in the English language, I gave it a shot.
I’ve never been a hardcore otaku. I’ve dabbled in anime over the years, but never did find an anime that I’d stick to for long…or if I did, the anime didn’t stick around for long.
One Punch Man certainly isn’t the best anime I’ve seen but I’ve got to admit, it certainly is a fun one.
So does the game follow suit?
Read on to find out.
What is One Punch Man – A Hero Nobody Knows?
One Punch Man – A Hero Nobody Knows (OPM) is a 3D fighting game with RPG elements, developed by Spike Chunsoft for Bandai Namco.
Fights can have up to three characters on a side, who are able to be tagged in at any time.
Fights are pretty basic in mechanics; two attack buttons, a block/ dodge button and a jump button. R2 allows you to run, while clicking in L3 makes you dash at the opponent. Pressing L2 and either Square, Triangle or Circle executes a special move, with L2 + L3 doing a unique move when your character’s transformed.
Unlike the Capcom VS games, you can’t call in your teammates for assists if you’re in trouble. You can only tag out and let them replace you.
Special moves use meter, which rises as you hit enemies. It also slowly rises if you’re moving around and you can also manually charge it by holding L2 + X.
Due to the ease of gaining meter, the fights usually devolve to a game of keep away with bouts of intense fighting as each character tries to nail the other with their special moves.
Fighting the AI is unfortunately boring due to this as you can just wait them to come to you while you’re charging your meter and then hit them with a special move when they’re near. Some moves (like Tomboy) are hellishly overpowered, so it’s even easier if you have access to them.
Rise of a new Hero.
The single player mode blends RPG mechanics with the game’s fighting system, allowing you to create a custom Hero and rise through the ranks of the Hero Association.
As a fledgling hero, you’ll go on quests given by the town’s people as well as special missions given to you by the Hero Association that will slowly gain you points to go up to the next Hero rank.
The premise is sound (it’s pretty similar to the Saitama‘s arc in the anime and there’s actually a lot of customization to do with your custom hero.
From picking your own special moves (you can even use special moves from other heroes), to how your hero looks to what lines they speak…it’s pretty decent (and deep) system that really allows you to tweak nearly every aspect of your Hero.
I just wish there was more mission variety to the Association missions. Most of them just fall into two categories; fight and beat your opponent or survive long enough for Saitama to come. More things to do in missions (other than just fight) would’ve made the trudge through the ranks (and it is a grueling one make no mistake) more enjoyable instead of a chore.
The plot of the single player campaign follows close that of Season One of the anime, though you’ll be seeing the events from different viewpoints. There are a couple of critical moments where the game dovetails with the anime (like when you’re fighting Carnage Kabuto) but for the most part you’ll be doing something else while the events in the anime occur, though you might encounter familiar faces during them.
There’s a free roaming aspect to it as well, as you can explore parts on the city (which serves as a hub) and talk to the citizens (as well as accept their quests). As you play, you’ll even counter familiar faces from the anime like Silverfang, Genos…and of course Saitama. You can even go on specific character related quests to build rapport with them, which will allow them to come to your aid in battles.
A few hours into the campaign, the game reveals a neat twist. The city you’re running around in is actually a shared hub space and you’ll suddenly be able to see other players running around too.
I really love this aspect, as you’re able to check out other people’s creations. Some are weird, some are boring…a couple are downright awesome. I’ve even seen somebody dressed as Piccolo from DBZ. I do wish there are more visual customization options as the offerings (especially in the beginning) are incredibly limited.
While running around the city does have its moments, the lack of things to do there and the movement options (you can only run) makes it rather boring the more you play. It doesn’t help that the game has a severely inconsistent framerate whenever you’re exploring the city and streaming issues that causes NPCs to magically appear in front of you as you walk around.
This makes it incredibly frustrating to talk to people for quests at times because you’d need to wait a second or two for the game to load them in before you can interact with them.
Hopefully future patches nix this issue.
Quests are also hit and miss affairs. Generic ones you get from the Hero Association are boring and repetitive, with the same objectives every single time (beat the bad guy).
Special ones (such as those that involve that raise bonds with other heroes) fare much better as they have their own dialogue and cutscenes, even though the fighting does eventually boil down to beat the monsters senseless…again.
Interestingly, while the game is based on Season 1 of the One Punch Man anime, elements and characters from Season 2 make a showing in it too. One such example are The Blizzard Bunch, a clique of Heroes that wanted to recruit Saitama in Season 2.
It makes the familiar events in the game a bit more surprising, as you don’t really know what to expect, even though you might’ve watched the anime.
You can also be ambushed by monsters on your walkabouts, which’ll trigger a battle but other than that, there’s no threat in moving around.
Shops are also peppered throughout the city, selling stuff from items, to customization gear to emotes. You can get buy without buying too much stuff so there’s really not much reason to splurge.
The town’s really not that big, though it slowly expands as you play and complete certain missions. You’ll be able to visit Saitama’s housing building (which is also coincidentally where your character lives too) and even the Hero Association HQ.
Fights in the single player game are much more interesting. While most missions have you fighting monsters by yourself in the beginning, you’ll rarely stay that way for long, as other Heroes can join the fight midway.
Who joins you is random…sometimes it’ll be other player’s avatars (provided you’re playing this while online), other times it’ll be characters you’ve built a friendship with.
You’ll see a countdown timer pop up on the left side of the screen to show whoever is coming furiously running to your location. Of course, enemies can also have reinforcements too, which makes it imperative that you finish them off as soon as you can.
The best reinforcement is of course the titular One Punch Man himself, Saitama. Like in the anime, Saitama is for all intents and purposes, invincible. He wins in ONE hit and can’t be stunned or knocked down. He’s overpowered as hell, but that’s the fun part of having Saitama come in…especially if it’s against a tough monster.
Unfortunately, the battle system at the heart of all this is a bit of a letdown.
Simplistic fights man.
It’s much too simplistic and rewards defensive play more that going on the offense.
There’s no quick recovery from knockdowns AT ALL, meaning you’ll always have to wait agonizingly as your fighter or the enemy to get up, killing the tempo of a fight.
The controls are responsive for the most part, but blocking and perfect blocking (where you block right as at attack is about to hit) is hit or miss. There seems to be some input lag since I’ve blocked multiple times but still get hit anyways.
It’s frustrating that the game’s combat system is kind of broken, especially since it has so much potential for fun and chaos. The massive array of moves you can customize your character with is simply let down by a half-hearted fighting engine that simply doesn’t do the potentially spectacular melees justice.
The arenas you fight in are adequate though I do wish that they were more interactive and looked better.
It’s inevitable for One Punch Man to be compared with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (what with them both being 3D fighters with RPG elements) but there’s a night and day difference in the quality of presentation in the fights themselves, with the Dragon Ball game being the clear winner.
Despite the characters looking like the anime, the fights themselves are rather tame.
Powerful blows beautifully animate but fail on delivering the finish you’d expect because the environmental destruction is pretty much non-existent.
The environment’s not destructible (or destructible anything really), which is rather unlike the source material. Anybody’s who’s read the manga or watched the anime can tell you how much crap gets destroyed every time any Hero fights in the series.
In fact, even the ground’s not affected by damage in any way. At the very least there should’ve been furrows or craters from impacts (again like in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot) but everything is as pristine as ever, whether it’s a beginning or the end of a match (after all hell has broken loose).
It’s all the more jarring considering matches can be interrupted by random events like meteor showers (seriously) or massive thunderstorms. Yet nothing gets destroyed or even shows any sign of damage.
Where’s The Hero?
However, the biggest disappointment to me? The game doesn’t have the anime’s opening theme.
If nothing else, the anime has one of the best themes ever.
You can’t help hearing that and NOT get pumped up! Don’t get me wrong, some of the tunes in-game are pretty good, but nothing compares to The Hero.
Luckily the voices are decent enough to at least make up for some of the disappointment. You can choose between English and Japanese voices. I chose for Japanese so that it’d be more like the anime though I did play with the English voices enabled for about an hour or two.
The voice overs are pretty standard so there’s really not much you can say about that.
The bottom line.
I found myself enjoying my time with One Punch Man, though for different reasons that I’d initially thought.
Leveling up my own Hero got me hooked, as the lure of rapidly raising in ranks kept me engaged and playing the missions. Plus playing as Saitama is just plain satisfying. After struggling with lesser characters, being invincible and knocking out enemies with one hit NEVER gets old.
It also helps that the character models are pretty spot on for being 3D, which also adds to the whole awesome enchilada, though the basic, static environments are a definite low point, especially during fights.
While the visual customization is pretty lacking, I love the ability to switch fighting styles and super moves. The moves look fantastic in action too, which is also another draw.
However, the shallow fighting engine (where’s the quick recovery?) coupled with the lack of any environmental destruction or interaction whatsoever, tames the experience somewhat.
The technical hitches (like the inconsistent framerate and character pop-in) also detract from the fun, though they can be overlooked with enough effort.
I’d expected a lot more from the game to be honest, but I’m also pleased to say what is present is still a pretty good game, despite its shortcomings.
Good game but fighting system needs refinement.
- Looks like the anime.
- Lots to customize for your hero.
- Saitama is fun to play as.
- Battle system needs more depth.
- No environmental destruction or interaction.
- Needs mission variety.