My Hero One’s Justice has a silly name. Well, silly translation, more likely. It’s a bunch of words that make sense, strung together in an order that doesn’t. Its origin is the anime My Hero Academia, which makes more sense, and is itself is based on a Japanese manga (comic book) series.

The gist of the franchise is that, as a member of the current class of would-be world-savers in hero school, you must fight your fellow students and various other characters in order to… the specifics aren’t important, so let’s not spoil them. Suffice to say some stuff goes down and in order to help (or hinder) there is a lot of punching and kicking that needs to happen.

My Hero One's Justice Review
My Hero One's Justice Review

The way this manifests in the video game version of hero school is by way of the super-powered one-on-one fighter archetype. Put in a large, 3D level, you must move around and alternately attack or defend as necessary in order to be the one left standing at the end of the bout.

While your character will always orient itself (from a targeting point of view) towards your opponent, you can freely move in 3D space and you’ll need to take just as much advantage of this ability as you will your various attacks. Positioning yourself to either expose a weakness or conceal your own is critical in My Hero One’s Justice and it’s not long through story mode before you’ll find it hard to progress without at least leveraging (if not mastering) this function.

Lots of characters provide a decent variety of attacking options and knowing how your enemy works is at least as important here as it is in any fighting game, as you’ll really need to change up your technique based on who you’re dueling with.

Another important consideration is your placement in the 3D level in relation to the various elements it also contains. Attacks damage the environment around the players and it’s even possible to get stuck in walls, opening you up for a follow-up attack, or - on some levels - get booted out of bounds, immediately ending the fight.

My Hero One's Justice Review
My Hero One's Justice Review
My Hero One's Justice Review

The game’s core is largely focused on executing combo attacks, which can be pulled off - at a basic level - with simple button mashing. More advanced combos (a-la Mortal Kombat or Killer Instinct) require understanding the interconnectedness of the game’s various systems, which provides both accessibility and depth for longevity. Unfortunately, it can also mean that you spend a lot of your time as a passenger if you don’t have the skills to pay the bills, watching your character get comboed into oblivion without the ability to interrupt or in any way alter their destiny.

While you’ll likely get your butt handed to you by the AI on occasion, you can generally get the hang of their patterns and beat them in a rematch. They will also often do dumb things like run continuously into walls, etc, creating an opening for even the least-skilled fighting game fans to take the advantage. Online, however, is another matter entirely; there, unless you’ve truly mastered the mechanics, you’re as likely to find yourself effectively stun-locked to death, largely observing as your enemy reduces your health bar to zero. It’s a good way to see what “good” looks like, but unless you’re very skilled yourself, it’s pretty frustrating in ways that very few modern fighters are.

My Hero One's Justice Review
There’s heaps of content too, with a rich, branching story mode supported by character costume editors, arcade mode, and various other bits and pieces

A real highlight is the richly acted (and Japanese only) dialogue. There’s heaps of it and it’s super dramatic, really selling the anime-based license as only Japanese voice acting can. If you’re trying to learn Japanese (as I am), being immersed in the dialogue (even if it’s silly, as this is) is a real boon. As someone who hasn’t watched any of the Anime, however, I found the story to be difficult to follow in detail; fortunately, the themes are pretty clear, so you can generally tell - if only at a high level - what’s going on.

Performance on the Switch is great; things look nice and move super well, with good online code that finds matches quickly. There’s heaps of content too, with a rich, branching story mode supported by character costume editors, arcade mode, and various other bits and pieces that will be particularly valuable to fans.

It’s a very impressive, deep, and respectful treatment of the source material and one that is particularly enjoyable for fans of the Japanese language. It’s bright, fun, energetic, and loaded with things to do, and well worth checking out even if you’re not familiar with the franchise.