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One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows brings super-powered ennui to PC

One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is a game I’m struggling to comprehend the existence of. Superhero comic-based fighting games are common enough, but the subject matter here (excellent comedy manga/anime One Punch Man) doesn’t lend itself to close-fought battles. Or fights at all, on account of protagonist Saitama being utterly invulnerable and capable of ending every fight with one hit, hence the title. And yet here it is, somehow a three-on-three fighting game. Below, a trailer featuring him getting punched a lot and not caring much.

One Punch Man is a story all about wild power imbalances and how mostly-ordinary people (Saitama considers this superhero lark a hobby more than anything) deal with it. That makes it an odd pick for a genre inherently about closely balanced fights, although it has me wondering how they’re going to deliver its story mode. Perhaps it’ll be focused on the other characters, and how they react to the presence of this invulnerable figure in their midst. Personally I’m just glad to see best lad Mumen Rider (an ordinary, helpful guy on a bicycle) here too, though I worry for his safety.

Fighting games have played around with the idea of canonically invulnerable characters before. In the Guilty Gear series, vampire lord Slayer never really loses a fight, and rather than get knocked over, he casually reclines on the ground, even in ‘defeat’. He still gets hit, though, and knocked around, which is more than we see in this trailer. Saitama gets beat on pretty hard here, and completely fails to react, and we don’t get to see (even for a moment) what happens when he hits someone in return. In the manga, he tends to reduce monsters to chunky red mist on the first hit.

There’s no release date beyond “Coming Soon”, and the game is developed and published by Bandai Namco. In the meantime, if you’ve not already seen it, One Punch Man is available on some streaming sites, though regional licensing means you may have to search a bit. The original manga author’s second show, Mob Psycho 100 is even better, while you’re at it.

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Dominic Tarason

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