Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
Developer: Bandai Namco
J-Stars Victory VS+ not only has the longest name in gaming, but it also has the biggest roster of anime in any fighting game that I have played. Spanning across 45 years of anime, the game takes the best characters from Shonen Jump and crams them all into the most over-the-top fighting game to hit the industry.
First off, this game is not Super Smash Bros, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Soul Calibur, nor any other fighting game that has had any cameos in its past. J-Stars is in its own world, it is obvious from the get-go that this game is something different and thanks to its Japanese voice acting and English subtitles, it feels like you are watching a long interactive episode of One Piece.
Battles sees two teams against each other in a medium sized arena. Two characters and a support character fight it out with all the flashy bits and destruction that you would come to see in a Shonen Jump anime. The character roster is the game’s biggest strength as there are dozens of fighters to choose from. Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta, One Piece’s Luffy, and Naruto. They are all present and accounted for. Each fighter has their own unique fighting style and every time you switch over to a new character it will take some time to get used to their very particular combos. Each fighter also lists themselves in a list of ranged, tank, close combat, speed, etc. So matching fighters with your opponent’s weaknesses makes it all the more rewarding.
As the battle plays out you and your team mate runs into your opponent’s spawn area or you meet half way depending on the opponent. You have 300 seconds to take your opponents down, or K.O them 3 times, depleting their revive count. Each fighter has a standard attack, and a ton of special abilities that are preformed different depending on the direction of the analogue. Some of these abilities are beams from their hands, sword attacks that are up close, and massive kick/punch combos that end with your opponent flying off into the distance. It is all true to the Shonen Jump world, and every battle will make you feel like an anime star.
Support character can be used in game too, these are available regularly, and unlike fighters they can be used once in a while for one attack and then they disappear. Support character cannot be controlled either, they are controlled by AI. Each fighter also has their very own, very unique, super move. This move is available after a bar is filled during combat. The moves are flashy and deal massive damage, but most of all they are the biggest showcase to the fighter’s anime background and really bring out the most in them.
It becomes essential to plan your team before you head into battle. You can equip cards into a deck, these cards are used during battle and have their own advantages. Some card give your fighters more health, and some might give you a damage buff. Managing your decks is vital for the win and you can equip multiple pre-sets, changing them up as you go into battle.
J-Stars might have the roster, but it needs more maps as you exhaust the list very quickly. Regardless, you are so busy fighting and kicking your opponent through layers of walls that you really couldn’t care less about your surroundings. The maps aren’t really that pretty to look at anyway, to be honest, the game does not push the limit of visuals at all.
The game has a solid campaign mode called “J-Adventures”. Which sees you play through a rather confusing story filled with lengthily text bubbles, too much randomness, and a direction-less plot. You get to explore the world and complete quests while sailing on the ocean and popping in on towns and islands on the outer skirts of the lands, and by playing through it all you earn currency that is used to purchase fighters, support characters, and cards. There are four different campaigns that revolve around the four main Shonen Jump series that the game is set on. This makes the storey extremely dull as it is basically the same campaign with the same plot, the same world to explore, but with just a different set of characters.
J-Stars might not have the best visuals in the world, or the best campaign, but it is a love letter to all anime fans out there. The game is oozing with Shonen Jump characters, jokes, and scenes that will make you want to spend the rest of the weekend watching through some episodes. Its lacks in the narrative department, but the characters are its shining star.