One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows has arrived and, well, it might initially give some people pause. It’s another Spike Chunsoft and Bandai Namco affair, just like Jump Force, and it has a similar foundation. Both games are rather rudimentary fighters where you run around an open area and hold down the left trigger and press a button to use specials. Each one has you creating an original character and becoming strong enough to fight alongside familiar faces. There are even story segments where things might not look quite “right,” though these are less frequent and jarring here, due to the art style. But the main difference is here, going with an original character and story really suits the story.
Part of the One Punch Man gimmick is that Saitama is the most powerful hero in the world, but no one ever notices or catches this for a variety of reasons for the longest time. (In fact, when he finally does join the Hero Association, he starts out at a C-rank, which is the rank all players begin at in One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows.) What’s fun here is that players are not only in a similar position, where they can climb the ranks and grow in strength by completing heroic tasks, but they also get to be one of the few people who’s “in” on it and knows exactly what Saitama is capable of due to chance meetings.
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows’ campaign can almost feel like you’re going through a hero life simulation of sorts. Your goal is to climb the ranks and become an established hero, inspired by the fact that Saitama saved you from near-certain doom years before. This means taking official missions from the Hero Association, helping people you might meet on the street, and getting to know other heroes and build up a bond with them by working together. In this way, you come to naturally understand how this world works. You run into heroes as you all turn up to aid the same people. You discover who they are and what they’re capable as relationships grow. You even “learn” from them and these interactions by getting their killer moves to use or battle types that are connected to them.
It also makes you feel like you belong, due to the growth present in the One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows campaign. Climbing through the ranks betters yourself and gives you more to do. The missions and fights also give you experience that allows you to boost stats or build up your battle styles. It also means unlocking characters for online play and earning the money you might use to change how you look or improve your living space. You find more of a place for yourself as you play, just like Saitama finds more of a niche for himself as the original series goes on and people discover who he actually is.
The humor present throughout One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows also really helps with making the entire game more enjoyable. This isn’t a serious fighter. It’s never going to show up at Evo. But it is incredibly goofy and leans into that. Even when you’re dealing with potentially serious situations against villains who want to kill everyone, you’ll have moments where Saitama will show up and annoy the hell out of them because he isn’t taking things seriously enough. Some of the monsters look hilarious. Heroes can be silly. Getting the freedom to play around means you’re in on the joke. It may not be incredible, but it’s joyful. (Which, again, captures the series’ charm.)
So yes, One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is built on a bit of the Jump Force framework, which might scare some people. Especially since the original character plays a heavy part. But it also is the sort of fighter that can feel like more of an action game that just so happens to use a fighter battle system for its matches and eases people into a world and series that they might not be as familiar with as Jump staples like Dragon Ball and Naruto. You don’t need to know everything about the Hero Association or series in general. Instead, it eases you in, gradually introduces you to different major heroes and villains, and lets you find your way up through the ranks just like Saitama did.
One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.