Level Up! 2015: Hands On with J-Stars Victory VS+, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 and One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3
16/04/2015 1 Comment
A few weeks back I had the privalege of being invited down to Bandai Namco Entertainment’s LEVEL UP! Media event; an event which allows members of the press and community a chance to sample some of the upcoming games being released by Bandai Namco Entertainment.
It was a special and fun-filled-day, and one that i could carry on talking about until the middle of next-week; but to keep things moving, and allow you not to get bored of my waffling, i’ve decided to provide mini-articles detailing my experiences of each game; in this case J-Stars Victory VS+, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 and One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 – so here we go!
J-Stars Victory VS+ (PS3 / PS4 / PS Vita – Release Date: 26th June 2015):
The english release of J-Stars Victory VS+ is a manga fans dream come true; mainly because it contains a variety of characters from the past 50 years of Shonen Jump manga but because it throws them into an accessible environment that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.
Having played the japanese of J-Stars Victory VS+ i knew roughly what to expect; but with the english translation in place it sure makes things easier. In this playable build i was allowed to choose from one of aorund eight characters, including favourites such as Goku, Luffy, Ichigo and Gintama and to do battle against the AI. The combat system is pretty straight forward and offers a similar fighting style to that of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z, whereby you can lock-on to an opponent and perform one of four actions, Lo Attack, Hi Attack, Guard and Special, as well as move around in an large open environment which, as you may have expected, based upon locations from the various manga series – in this case Konohagakure – which is the village naruto lives in.
Fights are done in teams of two, sometimes more or sometimes less; but in this instance it was a team of two – me as Goku (from Dragon Ball Z) with Medaka (from Medeka Box) against Ichigo (from Bleach) and Gintama (from Ginatama) and the first team to receive three points is the winner. While J-Stars Victory VS+ seems like a ‘solo’ fighting experience it’s more about team-work and as such i found myself teaming-up with my AI teammates in an attempt to defeat my opponent; additionally support characters – just like in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm – can be called to help you out when needed. Finally, when a metre has been filled, the friendship burst can be activated – hevere characters can use their ultimate attacks, with goku using the Super Sayian Spirit Bomb attack as seen towards the end of the Kid Buu Saga.
J-Stars Victory VS+ is a lot of fun, but of course we already knew that, and it’s one that will mostly appeal to fans of the anime/manga fandom; however don’t be fooled by its appearence this is a top-quality fighting game masked with anime cuteness, so if you like fighters you may wish to give this a shot.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4: (PS4 / Xbox One / PC – Release Date: Autumn 2015):
If Dragon Ball Xenoverse was an example of what next-gen hardware can do for anime-styled games then Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is the pinnacle – the end result – of that goal; as the visuals are truly outstanding. The anime-styled visuals in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is one of the highlights of this game, and its a highlight that has been present throughout the franchise with Storm 3: Full Burst looking mighty impressive on last gen hardware.
So; whats new within Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, well my experience was short-lived and everything you see in the recently released gameplay trailer (shown further below) is everything i experienced myself in actual gameplay; what you see is what you get so to speak. The demo starts off with you controlling Gamabunta againsts thousands of ten tail clones at which point you must move to the objective marker; as you’d assume Gamabunta can use any of his iconic attacks against the enemies – with some clones requiring more work than normal. You can destory everything in your path, or avoid them, but whatever you choose to do upon getting to the 0bjective marker one of Storm’s iconic Quick-Time-Event (QTE) cut-scenes taking place.
The QTE is pretty-straight-forward and unlike QTE’s found within over games there is no harsh penalty for missing them; although you are given plenty of time to actually press the button. Whats more interesting is that the QTE’s are blended naturally with the main gameplay. For instance upon reaching the objective marker a cut-scene appears which then transitions into a QTE-Event which then transitions into gameplay whereby your grinding across a tentacle dodging attacks. The transition is flawless and it really keeps-up the pace of the game.
Of course Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will offer a lot more than QTE events and mindless destruction against thousands of opponents, but for that we will just have to wait and see – but so far its looking pretty superb.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3: (PS3 / PS4 / PS Vita / PC – Release Date: August 2015):
When it comes to One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 there is not really a lot to explain; the demo i played was presented all in Japanese so there was no clear-cut explanation into what i should be doing or why; however this being a Dynasty Warriors spin-off, and having played Pirate Warriors 2 in Japanese on both the PS Vita and PS3, the objective was simple – defeat everyone with a larger red dot until the mission ends. Of course these complications only arrise in this demo, as the European release will feature English subtitles and translated text.
This particular demo allowed me to take part in a single mission with the objective of defeating six high-key targets (presumably generals) before taking on the boss of the map. Having not seen, or read, One Piece this far, and not having any reference points before hand, i was clueless to who i was fighting against or for what purpose; but frankly i didn’t care as the Dynasty Warriors styled gameplay still rings true and is as easy and as enjoyable to play as ever.
There are some differences mind you; for starters the graphics have been improved, so regular grunts now have appearence to them, and more enemies now appear on screen at once and as a result i had taken down 1,000 of them before i had even noticed. Other notable changes saw that crew-mates can be called-upon to help you attack opponents and can be used in conjunction with your special attack – even if they aren’t nearby. I can’t explain the mechanics, as i’m honestly not sure how it happened, but hud on the left-hand-side of the screen displayed a support characters name and it could be called upon, and changed, at any point during the level.
In retrospect my experience with One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 left me feeling that it was the same as its predecessor other than with a few suttle changes and improvements. This is not necessarily a bad thing but i could’nt help but want more from it.
In addition to getting the chance to play these ‘samples’ of these games Bandai Namco Entertainment also revealed that they would be releasing Saint Seiya: Soldiers Souls onto the PS3, PS4 and PC and Project X Zone 2 onto the Nintendo 3DS later this year.