Hunter x Hunter: Nen Impact Brings Back The Joy Of PS2 Fighters

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Nen Impact is back!

Story Highlights
  • Nen Impact by Bushiroad Games immerses players in the Hunter x Hunter universe with fast-paced combat and nostalgic PS2-like graphics, reminiscent of classic arcade fighters.
  • While the game captures the spirit of early fighting games, it misses the opportunity to fully utilize the unique Nen abilities of the Hunter x Hunter world.
  • The developers should consider drawing inspiration from games like Persona 4 Ultimax to enhance creativity and gameplay depth.

Hunter x Hunter: Nen Impact is a game based on the Hunter x Hunter franchise. The series being my all-time favorite shonen, I was hyped since the first announcement. The blends nostalgia with fresh possibilities, offering a return to the simpler charm of older fighting games. While the visuals initially raised eyebrows, and I can’t say that I wasn’t a bit disappointed, I still have high hopes for the game.

The Charm Of PS2 Fighters

Nen Impact - Character Roster
Only a portion of the roster is revealed 

Developed by Bushiroad Games, Nen Impact throws players into the Hunter x Hunter universe with a focus on fast-paced combat and classic arcade-style gameplay. The PS2-like graphics might not be cutting edge, but there’s a certain comfort in the familiar cel-shaded textures and exaggerated character models.

The Gameplay

YouTube video

The gameplay, much like the graphics, is extremely similar to those early fighters we all played as kids. The game prioritizes the fundamentals, rather than adding a gazillion new mechanics and 13-input button combos. It seems like they went the Footsies route, rewarding players more for their command over spacing and game sense, rather than their command over complicated combos.

The stages and vibes are similar to the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai series, with a 2D camera on a long stage. I like the scaling of the characters against the stage, but there’s a reason games switched to smaller stages. Still, with modern technology and a more diverse team of testers, I expect the game to bring a new spin on the genre.

The Graphics

Nen Impact - Leorio, Gon, Netero
Nen Impact – Leorio, Gon, Netero

Presently, we don’t know if it’s a deliberate choice or just an unpolished version of the game. Still, it seems like a throwback to the golden age of PS2 fighters like early Tekken games and Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen series. Even if it’s intentional, I hope they polish the graphics at least a bit, especially the character portraits. The game’s still in its early stages, so we can’t say for certain what the end product will look like. 

A Missed Opportunity: Where’s the Nen?

nen impact gameplay
So many iconic characters, not many iconic abilities

However, here’s where the nostalgia trip hits a roadblock: the lack of emphasis on Nen abilities. To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Hunter x Hunter universe is the unique Nen system, where characters manipulate their aura to create powerful and diverse techniques. Unfortunately, Nen Impact doesn’t fully explore this incredible potential.

From the gameplay reveal trailer, we can certainly see some abilities. Gon’s Jajanken, Killua’s Godspeed, and Kurapika’s Chain Jail are just a few examples. The problem is the lack of non-combat abilities. Mizaistom’s Cross Game would be so interesting to play in a fighting game, restraining or dismissing enemies based on certain conditions, such as if they were to attack you when you’re putting up a card.

Chrollo’s Skill Hunter is another ability that could create an interesting character kit, being able to use a plethora of abilities. Add in a super that can steal the enemy’s super, and you’ve got perfection.

I understand the reasoning behind why they’re playing it safe for now. Abilities like these may be more usual for Arena Fighters such as Jump Force, but that’s part of the problem. Arena Fighters suck because all matches at a casual level come down to spamming the one powerful ability you have.

You can also only have 4 abilities in most Arena Fighters, which just hinders creativity. Nen Impact, or any future Hunter x Hunter fighting games, should take inspiration from games like Persona 4 Ultimax or Touhou Hisoutensoku, instead of playing it safe and being yet another Street Fighter reskin.

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