The summertime isn’t particularly known for great game releases, at least in bulk. While there are some great games that come out in the summer from time to time, this is also often a time for publishers to capitalize on this drought. J-Stars Victory VS+ is an example of a game that’ll pique interest simply because there really isn’t anything else to talk about, but is it worthy of one of those “screw it” purchases?
What Is It?
J-Stars Victory VS+ is a fighting game similar in spirit to titles such as Marvel vs. Capcom and Super Smash Bros. The game pits several popular characters from various manga featured in issues of Shonen Jump together in a no holds–barred tournament to see who’s the toughest of them all.
The game is actually the first Jump-based fighting game to reach the United States as other games, mainly Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars on the Nintendo DS, couldn’t make it to North American shores due to various licensing restrictions American otaku are all too familiar with.
VS+ is actually a souped up version of the J-Stars Victory VS games that graced PS3 and PS Vita systems only in Japan. Nuances include the game’s Arcade Mode and a gameplay rebalance of its roster based on feedback from players of the original Japanese games.
Why Should I Care?
Seeing as how the game marks the debut of a Jump fighting game in North America, a fighting game with the likes of characters from Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, and a bunch of other manga leaves a lot to be intrigued about.
The problem is a lot of that intrigue starts to disappear after you’ve played the game for a few hours, especially if you’ve experienced any of the Dragon Ball Z and Naruto games that have come out over the years–which have also been published by Bandai Namco.
In fact, bouts really are not all that different from previous iterations of Dragon Ball and Ultimate Ninja Storm. Combat takes place on a 3D plane that you can freely roam in during 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 fights with the ability to lock on to an opponent using the left shoulder button, so while it’s nice that you have the ability to focus on a different opponent on the fly, it also makes it difficult to travel around the game’s maps based on territories featured in various worlds in the Shonen Jump universe.
While the moveset of every character in the game obviously varies, for the most part, everyone pretty much does the same sort of thing. It’s
really just a matter of understanding the slight differences the characters have. Each one has a dash move, a short range attack, a long range attack, and so on. It’s similar to Super Smash Bros. and how every button command for each character does the same thing–just significantly different, whereas compared to a game like Mortal Kombat X, where simple taps of a button perform simple moves, there are also exact button combinations to use for a wider array of moves and techniques.
This isn’t to say there isn’t a whole lot of skill involved, because like other fighters, there certainly are various techniques players will develop to have a winning edge. But on the other hand, again, like Smash before it, J-Stars has a pickup and play mentality through its mechanics that make it a whole lot more approachable than a Street Fighter type of game.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Oftentimes crossover games suffer from a weak narrative, and unfortunately J-Stars Victory VS+ is no different. The J-Adventure mode features four different arcs; the Dynamic Arc starring Luffy (One Piece), the Hope Arc starring Naruto (Naruto), the Investigation Arc starring Toriko (Toriko), and the Pursuit Arc starring Ichigo (Bleach). It’s through these J-Adventure arcs where players will most easily gain currency to unlock more fighters, and unfortunately, that’s the only motivation to play through them. To make matters worse, each Arc tells the same story, with the main difference being the characters you take control of.
It’s no secret that Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece are among the most popular mangas in the world, but that doesn’t exactly justify the obviously unfair balance between characters in the game, and even at that–it’s a pretty lame mixture. Take Naruto’s characters for example. Your choice of fighters from that series are limited to Naruto, Sasuke Uchiha, Madara Uchiha. You don’t even get Kakashi Hatake or Neji Hyuga, two of the most respected jonin in the Hidden Leaf. Heck, even Jump Superstars on the Nintendo DS had Yugi Moto from Yu-Gi-Oh!, which is now unrepresented.
Aside from the disappointing J-Adventure mode, you also have the challenging Victory Road and Arcade modes that take away time from the game’s multiplayer where it truly shines as expected.
At the time of review, it took a little long for matches to be created, so that’s probably an indicator of how well the game is selling. To somewhat make that better, the game also offers a local multiplayer mode, but it’s done sloppily through split screen gameplay, which is totally unacceptable especially considering this is on the PS4 and not the PS3.
None of the gameplay’s imperfections
really make the game bad. Annoyances and nitpicks aside, J-Stars Victory VS is actually a really solid game. There just isn’t enough value in the overall package to warrant a full $60 purchase, which is unfortunate because there is all sorts of potential in this series. If you’re starved for a localized Jump game, this is it, and maybe your purchase will influence more Jump games to come stateside with higher quality. But if you’re looking for a solid game to pass the time until the bigger ones come out, you’re better off spending your $60 on 10 games on a random PSN Flash Sale.
J-Stars Victory VS+ really should’ve just debuted on the PlayStation 3 as originally planned.