From the marketing – One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows appeared to be another arena-brawler style fighting game based on a popular anime franchise that had the gimmick of waiting for Saitama – the titular One Punch Man - to arrive ensuring the win. However the game opens with a custom character creator which leads into the game actually being an RPG with the arena brawler used as the battle mechanic.
The story of the game runs in parallel to that of the anime's first season, and here you create a character who has recently joined the Hero Association with the task of earning renown by completing quests to climb the ranks.
The game takes place in a sandbox of the city from the series with various areas opening up as the story progresses. In order to move forward, you must earn enough points to open story missions. These points are acquired by completing side-quests offered to you by random people on the streets, as well as official requests from the Hero Association itself. These missions will grant not only points, but also experience, which can be used to upgrade your stats for Health, Attack, Special Attack, Special Meter and Assistance. This adds a decent amount of depth to the basic game, as you must decide how to balance your character and level them up in preparation for harder battles. Various fighting styles can also be learned and powered up during the game too, granting the player access to new combos, a special mode and the ability to equip even more special attacks. The fighting styles and special attacks are learned by completing various quests and missions featuring familiar faces from the series.
This in turn leads to another aspect of the game, where the player can either battle in part of a team from the outset or wait for a hero to show up. Once the hero shows up they hit the opponent with an assist attack before allowing the player to control them mid-battle.
The battle system used in game is a fairly standard arena-brawler with a light attack, heavy attack, dash button, jump, block and dodge. Charged attacks can be used to break through an opponent's defence, and pressing up or down with an attack can make it a sweep or launch your foe into the air allowing for combos. The game has various fighting styles, each of which are quite distinctive and are selected on the main menu and can't be changed during a battle. Styles range from speed, slower stronger attacks and a few that are balanced between the two.
Within the arena battles, items are carried in via drones and events such as a meteor shower appear at random to add in elements of chance to each fight. The game is easy to pic up and play, though at times it does feel like a button mashing affair. It can feel a little clunky, especially when combos fail to connect and ground attacks don't seem to do much damage. Overall it often feels a bit easy, especially at the beginning, but there are a few missions that really ramp up the difficulty.
As the game progresses the player gains access to a free battle mode that allows arena battles either locally or online with CPU opponents or friends. As the player progresses they unlock more characters for this mode, providing plenty of incentive to power through.
One Punch Man does fall into a rather familiar-yet-repetitive pattern where all missions are either fetch quests or arena brawling. The only variety in the missions are the enemies, their numbers and the hero arriving to help, so for those looking for a bit more variety, this may be a bit disappointing.
Still, despite the combat feeling a bit clunky at times, the simple nature of the whole thing makes it a fun distraction. Coupled with the ability to unlock new costumes, allowing for some entertaining customisation options, the game feels lively. There are even real-time events in the game as you can see other players running around in the city if you're playing the aptly named Online Mode.
Presentation-wise, the game's art works for this style of game. The character designs translate well to 3D and the audio has both the Japanese and English anime cast reprising their roles. A small addition but a very nice one at that. The best thing you can say about One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is how surprisingly fun it is to run around the city and be a hero here. While it won't win any awards for it's fighting game mechanics, it's rather faithful to its source material and allows the player to enter the world as a rookie hero.