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J-Stars Victory VS+ Review

by Dean James

Weekly Shonen Jump has been a staple of Japanese culture since the late ’60s as a collection of the hottest shonen manga, including the hugely popular series that have become worldwide phenomenons, such as Dragon Ball and Naruto. J-Stars Victory VS released last year in Japan to celebrate the magazine’s 45th anniversary and the US is finally getting in on the fun with J-Stars Victory VS+, an upgraded version of that game, which brings together the franchises that made the magazine so popular. J-Stars Victory VS+ is a mix of fighting and adventure, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite live up to its potential.

J-Stars Victory VS+ offers characters from 32 different Jump series, dating as far back as 1980’s Dr. Slump, and as recent as series like 2012’s Assassination Classroom. The rich history of Weekly Shonen Jump is on display here and the vast selection of characters is quite impressive. One problem, however, is the lack of detail on any single one of these characters. Each fighter looks just as they should, with recognizable moves included, such as Yusuke’s Spirit Gun. The problem is that just about every fighter feels the same as the rest.

The type of fighting style found in J-Star Victory VS+ lends itself to a lot of button mashing, with very little strategy and minimal movesets. While this is far from your typical fighting game, instead being more of an arena fighter, the characters should feel much more distinct from one another than they are.

This arena style battling definitely sets itself apart from most in the fighting genre, with the closest in comparison probably being Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Players can choose one character to fight with personally, another to be controlled by the CPU or another player, and then a Support character.

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The support character can be called on at times throughout the bout, but there is a recharge time between uses. This is a quick way to use a character’s signature attack and can definitely be a big help in battle. The best part here is that in addition to being able to use the playable characters in this slot, there are also a number of characters exclusive to the Support role. While it would have been nice to see these playable, it’s still great to see the additional characters regardless.

Upon choosing a team, you will be thrust into a large-sized battlefield, where many similar characters do battle. The combat is simple, as mentioned above, but still has some frustrating aspects. Upon being hit, there is an invincibility window that should not exist as often as it does, making it quite hard to execute long combos, even with lots of practice.

Rather than each character having a set number of lives, the game utilizes a unique system for a fighter. Between the two sides, each player must fill up the victory bar that typically requires three defeats to win, though there are some alterations to this during the game’s story.

Speaking of the story, J-Adventure is without a doubt the most fun you will have in the entire game. Split up across four storylines that each follow a set leader including Luffy, Naruto, Toriko, and Ichigo, these intersecting stories take place in Jump World, where these universes collide.

The main goal of each is the Jump Battle Tournament, with the leader of each of the four setting out with a team to compete. However, there are numerous quests that can be picked up along the way, albeit all being rather simple. For the most part, any quest you come across will consist of accepting the quest and then sailing to the point on the map that corresponds to that mission.

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It would have been better to see a little more complexity here, but these are mostly a means to an end to get you to the numerous battles. Luckily, there are some parts where the game mixes it up, by instead allowing you to take control of one of your enemies in a battle against another group.

With such a large roster of characters, sadly the J-Adventure mode does not focus on too many of them. You will get more specific interactions and detail on the four lead characters, such as Luffy. Other characters that join your team however, are typically just there more than anything.

J-Adventure is without a doubt the most fun you will have in the entire game

Throughout J-Adventure, you will collect a number of different items from the side quests, including special coins that can only be used on J-Stars Cards. Ranging in rarity, these cards can be made into decks for your character that can help immensely in battle, but at a cost. Each card gives some sort of increase, like more health or even the ability to lock onto enemies through buildings, with there being a downside as well. This is something that will make the game more customizable and fun the longer one plays and collects the large number of collectible cards.

The biggest addition to the + release of J-Stars Victory VS is that of Arcade Mode, which definitely adds a good bit of replayability to the game. At the start, you will only have access to three different arcade styles, but there are more to unlock by beating the accessible modes in certain ways. These increase in difficulty pretty rapidly, so it can take awhile to beat them all. Online play also extends the replay value of the game a lot, but with only two game modes of “Ranked” and “Friendly,” there isn’t much to write home about there.

J-Stars Victory VS+ also implements two key features that most every fighter should have. The ability to save replay videos and rewatch them at a later time is easy as it gets here, allowing players to relive epic battles that may occur. The other feature is one that is a necessity for any PS4 game that is also available on other PlayStation platforms, cross-save. Especially for those that own the game on PS4 and PS Vita, you can save on one and transfer it to the other through the cloud and enjoy it on the go or at home.

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The game’s music is pretty fitting for a game such as this, with everything feeling upbeat and fast-paced. The voice acting is exclusively Japanese, but that is not any sort of surprise, considering the likely licensing issues that would occur trying to get everyone. Sadly, they are not used all that often, with voiced discussions in Adventure Mode strictly being quick exclamations to start a sentence.

The Verdict

J-Stars Victory VS+ is certainly an ambitious game, bringing together characters from 32 different Weekly Shonen Jump Series into one. The J-Adventure mode can provide hours of entertainment, even with its simplicity, but the combat itself could have used more work to make each character feel more distinct, though the J-Cards do help with some additional customization. The vast range of series represented here is bound to make fans of those series happy for the most part, but otherwise the typical gamer likely will not find much fun to be had in J-Star Victory VS+.

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J-Stars Victory VS+

  • Available On: PS4, PS3, PS Vita
  • Published By: Namco Bandai
  • Developed By: Spike Chunsoft
  • Genre: Fighting
  • US Release Date: June 30th, 2015
  • Reviewed On: PS4
  • Quote: "J-Stars Victory VS+ is built specifically for fans of the numerous franchises represented within with an enjoyable story mode, but outsiders will likely find nothing of interest here."
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The Good

  • Brings together 32 different Jump franchises in one package
  • J-Adventure mode split across four entertaining stories
  • J-Cards bring level of customization to game

The Bad

  • Character move sets are not distinct enough from one another
  • Combat can be frustrating at times
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