My Hero Academia deserves some good games. The show has cemented itself as a worthy successor to the title of this generation’s “Big Shonen Anime” among the likes of Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece in previous decades. By taking the classic shonen tropes and story cues that so many people know and love, then elevating them into a conscious, well executed narrative, My Hero Academia promises to learn form the mistakes of its forefathers and continue to innovate one of the biggest anime genres ever. With season 4 of My Hero Academia now in full swing, many are wondering if they can enjoy the show's wide cast of characters and creative setting through other media, like games.
In the US, the availability and popularity of anime has skyrocketed, and this trend is increasingly clear in the world of gaming. Japanese games have long borrowed tropes and imagery from anime, but now the anime aesthetic is often a selling point for games, rather than just a quirk of their country of origin. Recent titles like Code Vein have benefited greatly from having an anime aesthetic by using it to refresh or re-imagine their own genre.
With all this in mind, a My Hero Academia game should by all means do very well both in Japan and in the US. Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case. The recent My Hero Academia fighting game, My Hero One’s Justice, was a lackluster title. Its presentation was so-so, not contributing anything new to the show’s plot or providing an easy jump-in point for newcomers. Likewise, its combat system was unique, but not complex enough to give it the longevity that its pedigree might have lent it.
However, its not as if anime-based fighting games are doomed to fail. Titles like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Jump Force, and many others have been great successes based on existing franchises, not to mention other games that borrow the just visual appeal of anime, like Persona 5, which has inspired its own anime due to its incredible presentation.
It is clear to see that these games have the potential to create cinematic presentation that lives up to the gorgeous animation of the media that they are based on, at the same time as providing excellent fighting systems that appeal to those who just want good gameplay.
Fighting games are not all, either. The announcement of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, a Dragon Ball RPG, was a welcome surprise. With a release date in January of 2020, this game promises the quality combat of other Dragon Ball games, with the added benefit of a deep story component and a wider variety of gameplay.
There have already been calls for other anime to get the Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot treatment. There is clearly a lot more room in the medium for great anime games, even if Dragon Ball has received most of the few titles that have achieved wide-ranging success. If the likes of Dragon Ball Xenoverse can expand on Dragon Ball Z's story in new and interesting ways, then My Hero Academia can certainly garner the same treatment. It may not have the massive fanbase of Dragon Ball, but then again, not many series do.
All hope is not lost, however. My Hero One’s Justice is getting a sequel some time in 2020, and a My Hero Academia RPG has also been announced, developed by a Chinese company with no release date yet set. The RPG is a long way off, but it may bring tidings of a more varied landscape for games based directly on anime alongside its Dragon Ball Z counterpart.
The RPG title, My Hero Academia: The Strongest Hero, does not have much information out yet. It has no official release date, and the studio developing it does not even have a full website available with details on the game. Some are worried that this does not bode well for the worldwide availability of the game or its quality, but as of now all anyone can do is speculate.
My Hero One's Justice 2, on the other hand, has a lot more information to work with. It is releasing soon, and will include characters from Season 4 of the anime. This is excellent timing, as the game will release in close proximity to Season 4, allowing players to experience the story and characters through both the show and the game. According to the developer, quirks will have a much greater role in the combat system for My Hero One's Justice 2, which is a response to some of the criticisms of the first game. Hopefully, this title will be a chance for the developer to iron out the kinks and give My Hero Academia the game it deserves. Perhaps then the path will be paved for many more great anime games in the future.