One-Punch Man became something of a global phenomenon that is quite rare for anime these days. It is based on a webcomic that was illustrated in a manga by the artist Yusuke Murata. In a world where superhero movies were all the rage, the concept of a hero that was so powerful that he could literally end any fight with a simple punch was ridiculous to think, but it was handled very well. Saitama soon became a worldwide sensation after the release of the animated series from Madhouse based on the manga created by Yusuke Murata.
Those who enjoy games based on anime or manga license should be familiar with Bandai Namco. Almost every major video game that is using anime or manga source material has been developed or published by Bandai Namco. They have all the big names in their pocket and are still experimenting with these licenses for video games. One-Punch Man might not be at its peak of popularity right now but it never managed to get a proper video game until recently.
Saitama has the power to one-hit kill anyone and with such a challenging concept, it could be a problem to figure out how to make it into a video game. Bandai Namco along with Spikechunsoft have attempted a different approach to tackle this problem. As a fighting game with the name One-Punch Man, there is a distinct lack of Saitama but it is mostly due to the immense potential of his powers. If the developers had gone for a more traditional approach to the lead protagonist, this game would have almost no difficulty.
One-Punch Man offers a more open-ended approach to its fighting. It is held back by repetitive tasks and unnecessary grind that leads to additional frustration. The main campaign revolves around a custom hero that is created by the player instead of, you know, playing as Saitama. I can understand the thought process that went behind this decision, nonetheless, it does appear a little odd at first. You begin the journey in this world as a lower-class hero that has to slowly prove his mantle and build a reputation among other heroes of the world.
One thing that I should mention here is the expectations from fans of the anime and for newcomers. These two are going to determine how much you can enjoy the game. For fans of the anime, playing as a nobody hero is going to be boring even if they can interact with the world and get to control Saitama occasionally. For the newcomers, the game does a great job of setting up the world, establishing the characters, and introducing Saitama. It is almost guaranteed that if you have never seen the anime, this might pique your interest enough to end up watching it.
One-Punch Man would have worked out better if it was possible to nerf someone like Saitama, but considering how the whole appeal here is that he posses an immense power, the alternative provided by the developers is not a bad choice by any means, it just doesn’t work out that well. The progression system is tied to fights with RPG like experience points that let the player improve their rankings, and upgrade their stats.
As mentioned before, the story missions are tied to side-missions that end up wasting time and feel like a useless filler. Most of these are given by the Hero Association, some side quests can be accepted from random citizens, and finally, there are some quests that are given by other heroes. Most of these side-missions end up with the same result and usually give the same objective. They are repetitive and only serve the purpose of padding the length of the game. This also leads to artificial roadblocks where the game forces to attempt these quests to unlock the next story mission.
The open-world structure might be a flaw in itself but fighting is the saving grace. Most of the fights begin as 1v1 but can also get a backup hero which can save the day. This leads to fights where the situation can be reversed depending on how the player can control their fighters. The backup fighter can be seen in a picture-in-picture display where he is shown in a comedic manner rushing towards the player. It also manages to fit in with the comical style of the anime. Fights are also dynamic with environment traps and timers that can be reduced depending on how effective the player can perform combos.
One-Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows could be a competent fighting game if the focus was on refining the fighting game mechanics. It suffers from flaws that are mainly exhibited in its open-world story mode. There are some performance issues for the game on PS4 and while the quality of the visuals is great, the same can’t be said for animation or the overall presentation.
To conclude, One-Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is strictly a game with fan-service elements that also proves to be fun for newcomers. It suffers from repetition in its story mode but provides a fun combat system. It might not be the best game using the One-Punch Man name, but with a lack of choice, it is not a bad alternative.