Published on July 2nd, 2015 | by Sean Warhurst
J-Stars Victory VS + PS4 Review
Summary: With a roster that’s an Anime fan’s wet dream, J Stars Victory VS + is assured at least a moderately successful launch over on these shores.
With a roster that’s an Anime fan’s wet dream, J-Stars Victory VS + is assured at least a moderately successful launch over on these shores.
Featuring characters from such programs as Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto and many, many more I’m totally not familiar with, the game was developed for both the 45th anniversary of “Shonen JUMP” magazine and the 20th anniversary of the “V JUMP” magazine.
Now, cards on the table – I’m pretty unfamiliar with Anime and Manga in general; sure, I have a copy of Ghost in the Shell and a few Studio Ghibli titles on my shelf, but aside from catching a few of the aforementioned series’ when they aired in the early morning animation block, I’m unfamiliar with the myriad source material and origins behind 99% of the characters here.
The game comes with a decent collection of modes but you’ll be spending most of your early time with the game playing the “J-Adventure” mode in order to gain access to the characters you want.
The basic premise behind J-Stars Victory VS+’s “J-Adventure” mode sees you taking control of one of four fighters, including Luffy from “One Piece”, as they prepare for the J Battle Festival, a tournament held every 45 years in Jump World, a combination of all the different character universes. Attracting the strongest competitors from each respective realm, the story follows the four different narratives as the characters work their way towards emerging as the rightful champion of the tournament.
You’ll sail from location to location in an awkwardly controlled ship, meeting enemies and allies along the way; these sections don’t entirely work but it is refreshing to see developers attempting to tie some narrative into affairs rather than relying on the stock standard “Intro – Fight through the roster – Outro” formula that so many fighters adopt.
Combat accommodates up to four players and is a frantic exercise in blocking and picking the right moment to unleash a devastating flurry of attacks. The control scheme is quite easy to get to grips with and you’ll soon be flipping from rooftop to rooftop, dodging projectiles and returning fire with the best of them.
Battles take place in huge, destructible arenas filled with a wide array of buildings and items strewn around that can be employed as makeshift weapons, often making the combat an exhilarating game of cat and mouse as you stalk around the environment hoping to get the drop on your enemy. In order to unlock every character in the game you’ll have to make your way through the campaign at least once, and although it starts off as a blast by around the third hour fatigue starts to set in and the game’s lack of variation makes itself abundantly clear.
Personally, though, in either J-Adventure or the new single player Arcade mode, I didn’t find too much difference between characters in regards to combat style, aside from the marquee special attacks of course. Their attacks all seem to carry the same “weight” and, although great fun, boil down to using the same series of attacks over and over again. Visually the moves look stunning but it’s generally a case of all sizzle and no steak.
There’s also “Victory Road” mode, where players strive to achieve specific tasks throughout a sequence of battles and “Free-Battle” mode, where you can team up either through local co-op or four player online multiplayer, however we found finding teammates a little bit hit and miss – Fingers crossed this changes as the online community continues to grow, as online multiplayer is definitely where J-Stars Victory VS + shines its brightest.
Graphics and Audio
Rendered in an aesthetically appealing cel shaded art style, the characters all look as true to form to their print and Anime counterparts as you’d expect. The environments are solid enough, if a little bland in places, and overall the cheerfully colourful, even borderline garish, graphics look a treat on the PlayStation 4. The main crux of the “J-Adventure” cutscenes are just static images with text, which is slightly disappointing, although the few rendered moments are visually impressive.
There’s very little English dubbing in the game, but the localised voice cast all do a decent job with their characters, and the hyperactive hard rock opening theme will elicit a smile from even the most hardened of gamers. The music is your typical beat-em-up fare, all electric guitars and chirping techno, but it’s never intrusive and complements the onscreen action well.
Heavy on fan service, J-Stars Victory VS + is going to sell to its core target demographic regardless of what score we afford the game. The ability to play as so many characters is a unique selling point on its own, and the fact that the game behind this crossover of universes is relatively solid will just be a bonus.
Should you pick it up if you’re unfamiliar with most of the material? Hard to say. The combat is solid and the story mode is fun enough, even if it does get a bit tedious near the end. The game is littered with a ton of in jokes and referential humour that’ll be lost on you if you’re not boned up on the source material (Much like they were one me) but prior knowledge isn’t necessary to enjoy the chaotically gleeful thrill of a neck and neck four player online battle.
For me, J-Stars Victory VS + started out strong but petered out in the end as its shallow fighting mechanics became apparent, but even with these limitations, the varied (At least visually) roster and breakneck online multiplayer makes the game worth a look for fighting fans in the market for something a little different.
Primary Format – Games – Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PS Vita
Game Genre – Fighting
Rating – PG
Game Developer – Spike Chunsoft
Game Publisher – Bandai Namco Games
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst