J-Stars Victory Vs+
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PS Vita
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Price: $59.99 US – Available Here $99.95 AU – Available Here
J-Stars Victory VS+ appeared to be the dream game for many anime fans as Bandai Namco had managed to gather many of the most iconic characters of the shōnen genre and others into one game where they can create some of their dream battles. Despite appearing like an impossible licensing job in the West, Bandai Namco has brought J-Stars Victory VS+ out to Western fans. The question is, does this massive crossover title really deliver?
If you were hoping for some sort of explanation as to why characters from numerous Shōnen Jump series are fighting one another then you are pretty much out of luck because the writers of J-Stars Victory VS+’s storyline opted out of any explanation whatsoever other than simply saying that every world is also part of Jump World.
In the game’s story mode, called “J-Adventure” players are given four different arcs they can choose to follow though the actual quests remain incredibly boring and are extremely similar with one another. Players can choose to follow Luffy, Naruto, Toriko, or Ichigo as their main character with that character then being joined by other characters soon after. These characters are placed on a boat that must navigate through the Jump World and defeat various other fighters, gather equipment to travel to new areas that the boat couldn’t go before and unfortunately that is all there is to it.
There is no real enjoyment here even for fans of these series since not only are players forced to accept the characters chosen for that specific arc but the actual interactions between these characters are as uninspired as can be, with only the most die-hard fans of some of these series possibly cracking a smile that someone like Toriko is talking to Goku or Ichigo interacting with Hiei in voiceless text. Such bland presentation means that once you actually power through one arc, it will be highly unlikely you’ll want to try any of the other three.
Thankfully J-Adventure is only one of the modes available to players as the rest of the options allow players to actually select whoever they wish to fight as, though they must be unlocked using in-game currency and over a period of time as money must be earned through fights and additional character slots are only unlocked after leveling the “friendship” aspect. Now, as mentioned players can partake in Victory Road fights with special themes, a standard Arcade Mode, Free Battle between either CPUs or a friend in some awfully handled split-screen combat, and online battles.
The battles in J-Stars Victory VS+ are fairly rudimentary as the rule of combat sees the player often selecting their own fighter, a partner to fight alongside, and a support character than can be called in periodically to perform a certain action (usually an attack or supporting boost) against two other opponents who usually come with an assist character with each battle lasting 300 seconds or until one side loses three lives.
Once you enter a fight each character has light and heavy attacks that can be chained into combos, blocking, and special moves. Each of the characters brought into the title’s roster brings with them a handful of their signature moves though it is worth noting that their actual movelist is disappointingly small. Despite most characters having a slew of techniques at their disposal at best only four of their techniques are even brought in to pad their shallow movesets. Ultimately in the case of J-Stars Victory VS+, it feels like the developers chose to go with quantity of characters over the actual quality of the chosen characters’ fighting styles since many characters are lacking even their most iconic moves and ultimate attacks.
The aforementioned ultimate attacks are earned by playing aggressively and advancing a meter near the middle of the screen toward the player’s meter. Once momentum fully swing’s in the player’s favor they are capable of unleashing two extremely powerful attacks capable of severely damaging opponents, though it is worth noting that some of these attacks can have drawbacks on the player as well depending on the character they use.
This is one thing that does help the combat stand out occasionally is that some characters have a unique way of fighting with special abilities that have their own benefits and drawbacks, meaning that players will often have to think on whom to bring with them into battle to best counter a particularly difficult opponent. Thankfully, due to the bare bones nature most of most of the character’s techniques, these challenges won’t arise too often as most characters specials are all presented in the same manner.
Outside of the standard computer battles, players can opt for either the aforementioned vs modes against a friend or online. While fighting against a friend the screen opts for a vertical split which severely limits the amount of screen space for both players to a ridiculous level that should have been handled in differently while actually fighting online works in a satisfying manner.
It is worth noting that when J-Stars Victory VS+ was first released in Japan it was only for the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita and this limitation shows on the PlayStation 4 release. While everyone’s favorite characters still retain the same character models and aesthetic that fans will remember, there is a certain lack of polish and shading to really bring some of these characters to life and give them a real anime look that we have seen in many recent titles. Thankfully the game flows at a rather smooth pace even when characters are using ultimate techniques and destroying large amounts of the stage.
As mentioned, the stages are quite destructible which allows for some great looking moments where an opponent can be blasted through a building or dodging a particularly dangerous attack can leave crater where you once stood. This is a good thing since, despite matching the aesthetic from their original series, the amount of stages on offer is disappointing considering the number of series the roster draws from.
It is worth noting that since most of the series these characters have been taken from have either never been released in English or are licensed under different anime publishing and dubbing companies in the West that J-Stars Victory VS+ is being presented with only the original Japanese voice actors. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue for fans who should know how these characters originally sounded. The actual dialogue is enjoyable for what is offered since many characters have little interactions with one another if they are fighting against or teaming up with each other though the story dialogue is completely non-existent.
As for the soundtrack, fans will be happy to know that many of the all-time classic theme songs from memorable series have managed to make their way into J-Stars Victory VS+. Players often have the ability to choose what theme song will be played before entering into a battle which is a nice touch as selecting music to properly fit your team set-up creates potentially a great experience.
J-Stars Victory VS+ is the type of game that feels like it could have been so much better if the developer had actually put more effort into certain elements of the game. While the simplistic combat controls are easy to learn, the lack of character abilities and attempt to make most attacks feel different from one another leaves the combat feeling unsatisfying even though we have the largest roster of Shōnen Jump characters fighting against one another. J-Stars Victory VS+ is fuel for the fans of the series presented in the game but those fans shouldn’t expect a particularly great or deep game when picking this one up.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.