I went into J-Stars Victory VS+ blind. I know very little about the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine and the characters that frequent its pages, but I am a big gaming fan and enjoy the odd fighting game. So I was hoping for some solid gameplay to help make up for my complete lack of manga knowledge.
I thought the best idea was to dive in at the deep end, jumping straight into its “J-Adventure” (story mode), which has elements of an RPG, a term I use very loosely. You begin your campaign by choosing from four major characters from the Jump universe: Ichigo, Luffy, Naruto and Toriko. There is a plot (sort of) that doesn’t differ depending on the character, but which tasks you with recruiting members to join you on your quest, along with collecting the odd item along the way. Yet even after playing the game for a number of hours and reading through countless dull dialogue, I am no closer to understanding the point of this adventure.
Like I said, I wasn’t expecting to be gripped by a storyline that I imagine only makes sense to fans of the magazine. I was hoping that the fighting would stand on its own. Sadly, the combat is as lackluster as the generic comments made by various NPCs and only slightly more compelling than the reels and reels of poorly written text that intermittently scroll down your screen in an attempt to explain what in the world is going on.
Overall, combat just feels awkward and the terrible camera angles make movement tedious. It took me awhile to come to grips with the basic controls, but no matter how hard I tried it never felt natural or even remotely enjoyable. The game at least looks good and gets the manga aesthetic down, but as other reviewers have mentioned, it is pretty obvious that it is a port from the PlayStations 3. It would have been nice to see the developers make a few improvements to this iteration of the game, but all they added for the international release was an additional “Arcade Mode.”
All in all, it is clear that the game was conceived in love and I am sure that fans of Japanese anime will have a ball playing as their favorite characters from the Jump universe. But judging it strictly from a gameplay perspective, there is a lot lacking in this title. For those looking for a new button-masher from Japan to wear their fingers down to a nub, I suggest saving your money and waiting for Street Fighter V.
J-Stars Victory VS+
J-Stars Victory VS+ - 5/10
+ nails the manga aesthetic
- clunky combat mechanics
- terrible camera angles