This is a previously unpublished article I wrote a few months ago.
For some of us out there, in particular those in their late twenties/early thirties, Japanese animation has been a part of our lives for ages. Whether it was running home once school was over to catch the afternoon airing of Toonami on the Cartoon Network to see the latest Dragon Ball Z or Gundam Wing episode, or randomly catching Akira on cable for the first time and having our mind blown, Japanese animation, or anime as it’s more commonly referred as, is something that just sticks with most of us despite growing older and having more mature responsibilities.
Thankfully, one way many of us can still get our anime fix is in the games that we play. Properties such as Dragon Ball and Naruto still have long legs as evident by the almost yearly arrival of a new video game entry. Though one thing that sadly is lacking is the expansion of anime video games based on newer properties. While not every series is the perfect match to be adapted into a game since it just may not fit, one recent anime has the DNA to be a perfect video game, and that’s none other than the audacious, and ever satirical, action of One Punch Man.
WHAT IS IT
First debuting as a manga in 2009 before being adapted into an animated series in 2015, One Punch Man tells the story of Saitama. A relatively average man in his mid-twenties, Saitama eventually becomes a hero out of mere happenstance after being fired from his job and suddenly saving a boy from a monster. After training vigorously for three years, to the point that his full head of hair is but a memory amidst his newfound baldness, Saitama becomes so powerful that he can vanquish any foe with one mere punch – hence the name of the series.
Beyond that basic set-up, One Punch Man does delve into things a bit deeper as Saitama’s newfound power leaves him utterly bored after having one note battles against the seemingly never-ending hordes of enemies who talk big but don’t deliver. Additionally, One Punch Man also sees Saitama coming across new friends and foes alike such as his slightly unwanted disciple Genos, who is part cyborg, and the various members of the Heroes Association.
At it’s core One Punch Man is a character driven action series, but it’s more far reaching than that. Satirical on a level reminiscent of Paul Verhoven’s work in Robocop and Starship Troopers, One Punch Man delves into topics such as what it means to be a hero, how massive destruction often does have an effect, and how absurd it is for giant monsters, and even aliens, to appear out of nowhere. Topics such as those are discussed brilliantly in the animated series amidst some rather stellar animation which brilliantly delivers some truly imaginative battles.
WHAT COULD IT BE
While the premise of a game in which the hero can defeat an enemy with one punch many not sound exciting, it does have the basis to be something special. While most games themselves are meant to be experiences offering freedom, if you think about it deeper it still revolves around playing a tailored scenario in which the player merely has a few options to input things such as attack types, movement, etc. So if you take that approach in mind and couple it with how One Punch Man depicts action, which often has buildings or whole cities leveled in the blink of an eye, the game would ultimately work best as a very tailored experience potentially built around quick time events, perhaps amounting to what could be described as an action game with a rhythmic feeling through how the action is choreographed.
Fans of One Punch Man may be appalled at that potential avenue, but imagine an experience similar to what CyberConnect2 created within the action game Asura’s Wrath. Featuring god’s going up against each other, Asura’s Wrath combined both standard 3rd person melee action with sequences that were solely dependant on being quick time events to properly convey the scope and sheer size of what a battle between two powerful adversaries would be like.
Allowing the player to control Saitama in a QTE based One Punch Man would allow the game to truly deliver an experience similar to that depicted in the show through the many sweeping and dynamic camera movements that occur, which would otherwise be nearly impossible to recreate in a traditional 3rd person action experience. To add some variety to the game, the action could allow the player to control characters other than Saitama during certain scenarios. Besides the default secondary being Genos in his near annihilation level power, characters such as Mumen Rider, Silver Fang, and the over-the-top hero that is Pri-Pri-Prisoner could be included to allow both variety and a level of challenge seeing as how they’re not invincible as Saitama is.
Ultimately the goal of a One Punch Man game would be to successfully string together attack and defense prompts in order to rack up a high score and a worthy Hero Rating. Taking a note from the Heroes Association which exists in the show, players could be graded on their performance in the game, such as success rate, damage dealt, damage done within the environment, and be ranked similar to how the heroes in the show are ranked. To take that concept to the next level, and make the game current in it’s appeal, players could then compare their Hero Ranking to other players across the globe, thus making the leaderboard system in the game have some more merit and provide some competitiveness amongst players.
While I usually don’t go as far as to name a potential developer to make a project when I do a Golden Opportunity feature, there is one that I deem would be a perfect fit for One Punch Man. Platinum Games may seem like the default developer when it comes to making a One Punch Man game a reality, but I feel that none other than CyberConnect 2 would be a better candidate. Having done a QTE heavy game already with Asura’s Wrath along with creating a series of successful fighting games based on Naruto property, CyberConnect 2 could combine their skill and knowledge to make a One Punch Man game that would do the franchise justice and deliver, in my eyes, the sort of game that fans would expect to play.
WILL IT HAPPEN
Receiving a surge in popularity thanks to the arrival of the animated series, One Punch Man is becoming an ever growing craze amongst anime fans. While the property may not have reached that sweet spot of being a goldmine similar to Dragon Ball Z or Naruto, there is a demand for all things One Punch Man as evident by things such as figures and oddly enough a Saitama beanie which features his visage.
Right now it’s too early to tell if a publisher will be daring enough to acquire the rights to make a One Punch Man game, but knowing the industry it’s bound to happen sooner or later, most likely for a series of platforms similar to how the Attack on Titan game launched. Hopefully whenever a One Punch Man game does become a reality it’ll be as legendary as the hero is depicted in the manga and animated series.