Game Review: J-Stars Victory VS+
01/07/2015 Leave a comment
When i imported the Nintnedo DS Game Jump Super Stars from Japan nearly a decade a go I knew for certain that a western release would be completely out of the question due to the various characters licenses involved; and yet here we are over nine years later with its sequel on the PS4 in the UK – but is it any good? Well lets find out.
Introducing J-Stars Victory VS+ the third instalment into a reltiavely short-running fighting game franchise that sees characters from the Shonen Jump manga universe, such as Dragon Ball Z, Bleach, Naruto Shippuden and Toriko, do battle against each other in explosive fashion. Is that it? You may be asking; well pretty much – as this is a fighting game after all – And while all of the regular gameplay modes are included there is a story to be had here and a pretty unique one at that.
Its known as J-Adventure, and it’s an adventure mode that sees iconic characters from the Shonen Jump publication summoned into a worldwide tournament known as the J-Battle Festival. The incentive for entering this festival is that the winning team will be granted any wish they desire; but ironically enough the characters we used (as four different teams are available for selection) simply wanted to fight strong opponents; especially Luffy. This storyline may seem pretty straight-forward but the way it progresses can be anything but that; as unlike Mortal Kombat X, which sees the story progress through cinematic cut-scenes, in J-Stars Victory VS+ players will take control of a cruise ship (which can be upgraded) and travel around various islands and environments – much like in the One Piece manga.
As a result of this ‘travelling around’ you will come across numerous locations, such as Korin’s Tower from Dragon Ball, that have been taken directly from the mangas published in the Shonen Jump magazine; and of course each location will also see characters from that respective manga. The purpose of travelling around is not only to accept quests, which will ultimately progress the story forward, but it also allows fights to take place and for new characters to be unlocked and used within the mode itself. It’s a relatively strange way of having a story played out; but it manages to blend the various universes together into a single game world without feeling unrealistic and unnatural.
In my eyes the J-Adventure mode is an attempt at mixing RPG-Elements, such as exploration and stat building, with traditional fighting gameplay and it works relatively well – although after a while it does start to become a bit repetitive and stale. In regards to fighting then the combat is pretty straight forward; as each button on the controller corresponds to a command; for instance there is a light attack, heavy attack, special attack and block buttons – all of which can be chained together to create a more destructive combo. It’s all pretty basic stuff and if you’ve played any other anime/manga styled fighter then you should sit comfortable at home with J-Stars Victory VS+.
There is however multiple differences between this manga-styled fighting game and others available in the (Japanese) market; for starters fights are played in teams of (up to) three characters; whereby two characters will fight the opponents on screen, while another will act as support and has to be manually summoned in– It’s a similar support option to that seen in CyberConnect2’s Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm titles. Another notable difference is that in order to win a fight the player must knock-out their opponents three times; in other words the first team to get three knock-outs wins the fight. Of course each character still has their own HP guage; but amusingly enough you’ll hardly ever look at it.
Ultimate attacks can also be preformed, much like in any other anime fighting game, but in order to use them players must first fill-up a meter, activate it alongside their teammate and then use the special attack button. It can be considered a lengthy process, especially compared to other fighting games, but the results and the damage dealt are pretty high; for instance Goku will use his Super Spirit Bomb attack – during which he will go Super Sayian and thus changing his appearance throughout the remainder of the battle (or until he is knocked-down).
In reality J-Adventure is where the bulk of J-Stars Victory VS+ will be played; but as you’d expect there is more on offer here; as bundled within this European PS4 version of the game is a Victory Road gameplay mode, arcade mode, a selection multiplayer modes (both offline and online) and a J-Star shop; each of which serve their own purposes. Victory Road is another mode that will see countless hours spent on it; but unlike J-Adventure you can choose any character you have unlocked to progress through a mission-based styled campaign mode; its like an arcade mode but the fights steadily increase in difficulty and can award potential prizes. The Arcade mode on the other hand, which is exclusive to the western release of J-Stars victory VS+, operates like your typical arcade mode; whereby characters progress through a number of stages until all enemies have been defeated. It’s a similar situation with the multiplayer modes, with both ranked and regular gameplay matches being available, albeit with the J-Stars gameplay style.
The shop however is where things get a little bit different as here players will purchase characters before being able to use them in other gameplay modes. Of course I am not referring to in-app purchases or additional DLC Characters – this is points earned in game being used to unlock new content for that said game. Of course the J-Point Shop offers more than just characters (both playable and support) as also available to purchase here is upgrades for your ship in J-Adventure; some of which will make the adventure slightly easier and more enjoyable.
So how exactly are characters unlocked? Well its pretty straight forward – if not long winded; as first you have to play J-Adventure, and other gameplay modes, to unlock J-Points and once you have enough points you can then purchase the character(s) you want from the shop. It’s a similar process with the soundtrack options aswell. The way this has been implemented into the game makes it much more rewarding than other fighting games as it means you personally have to unlock the content. Additionally it also means you can unlock the characters you want when you want them; rather then spending mindless hours unlocking characters you do not rarely care for.
For what it is J-Stars Victory VS+ features a lot of content and offers an extensive amount of playtime; and despite a few niggles, such as the potentially sluggish story progression and constant loading screens (no matter how short they may be) it’s a pretty flawless fighting game with plenty of entertainment and nostalgia to be had. You may not recognize half the characters within this title; but it’s a great way to be introduced to new franchises and in the process you’ll be having lots of fun as well.
To some J-Stars Victory VS+ is a manga-fans dream come true and while that ‘may’ be the case its not entirely accurate due to the fact that this game only features characters from within the Shonen Jump publication; and as a result you won’t see any characters from Fairy Tail or Full Metal Alchemist make an appearence. Ignoring this, as the title of the game suggests that only Shonen Jump characters will be included, you’ll find an extensive but simplistic fighting game with plenty of unlockable content, a large rosta of characters and endless hours of nostalgia; this is a must-own for any anime and manga fan.