Bandai Namco Games releases its arena based fighting game J Stars Victory VS+ on the PS4 this week which for the first time has been partially localized which means gamers can understand what’s happening outside of all the fighting. There’s lots of characters to chose from across an assortment of modes, but is this worth jumping into? Take a look at our J Stars Victory VS+ review for the full picture.
J-Stars Victory VS+ Review:
Today we’re taking a look at Bandai Namco Games and Spike Chunsoft’s all star arena based fighting game J-Stars Victory VS+ which originally released on the PS3 in March 2014 and finally makes its way as a remaster on the PS4. The premise is simple, put a number of quirky characters from various franchises which feature in the famous JUMP magazine together and have them team up or go versus against each other in a non canon battle royale. So this means if you ever wanted Naruto to ditch the usual Sasuke, and partner with Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star fame you can. It’s a veritable mix of big name characters and much like Nintendo’s Smash Brawl games provides some solid entertainment when mix and matching various unlikely alliances on the battlefield.
To begin, players are presented with an assortment of usual modes which range from the story themed J-Adventure which comes with four different campaigns to work through. Victory Road, which has you fight in a ladder style path to victory with set teams, an extra tough Arcade mode versus a set number of opponents with varying skills and nuances. Free battle where you can relax and hone your skills alone or with a local friend and Online battle where the fight gets serious against the wider field. So there’s enough action to be had spread across all of the offerings here, although you’ll find the most enjoyment outside of fighting against other humans in the J-Adventure mode which allows you to play as Naruto, Luffy, Toriko, or Ichigo. It’s also here where you’ll unlock most of the game’s extra characters and content, so a good place to start. Unlike the rather unforgiving Arcade mode, the battles are fairly easy and there’s an opening tutorial section as well to nudge you on your way to victory. In a nutshell, whoever you choose teams up with a number of characters and travels the lands in a ship which by the time you’ve finished will have you flying over mountains, shooting wandering monsters and even crossing dimensions. It’s a simple interface littered with random battles, but also has its own story to be entertained by. There’s quite a lot to do here as you meet new characters, challenge them, train or take on side quests from a number of crazy anime characters who will be familiar or not depending on how well read you are.
The combat is obviously the mainstay spread across each mode and comes in a variety of forms where it’s 1 vs 1 or 3 vs 3 with the third character offering a supporting role in this instance so effectively it’s 2 on 2. In the open arenas – which come in a variety of forms including an oversized garden filled with fruit and veg- you’ll lock-on or not against the opposing team unleashing light and hard attacks, combos, team co-op move, special power attacks and Ultimate devastating moves. There’s even a spot of dash moves and countering as expected and some much needed blocking for tactical play.The idea is to down your opponents two or three times to gain victory which effectively is when the opposition loses its ability to spawn in again after a knock out. It’s quite easy to pick up and play, and button mashers will have an easy time of it too as there’s not the most extensive move list for each character.
What’s neat about the combat aside from how welcoming it presents itself, is how the arenas are destructible, so said giant fruit and veg gets mashed up when attacked or an opponent is thrown into it. In terms of the visual effect it’s rather impressive and makes fighting feel in tune with the characters powers. It certainly makes a change from static environments and looks good to boot. Although it has to be said, some arenas are better looking than others, with a number being quite dull in comparison to the areas such as Naruto’s Leaf village which is stand out location.
The characters themselves are also well drawn and animated and come with varied traits making each one unique, although if there’s any real complaint it has to do with the animation frames being a bit too obvious when attacking and defending. The AI partner is also the weakest link which becomes more apparent against the tougher arcade opposition where a bit of baby sitting is required. What’s good is actually being able to interrupt attack patterns which means if your partner is on the receiving end of a brutal beating if you’re quick you can jump in and save the day or at least limit the damage.
The game supports a customizable sound track which means you’re able to set spot music for when you unleash your team Victory Burst specials which whilst interrupting the gameplay with animated scenes each time they are unleashed are moments of joy and dread in equal measure depending on whether you’re the instigator or on the receiving end. There’s no English voices on offer here either for the limited amount of voice-over work included so you’re left to make do with subtitles which is authentic but not going to be to everyone’s tastes.
Playing through the various J-Adventure Mode stories will take quite a bit of time considering there’s a lot of battles and coins to unlock. To add a bit more depth is the option to customize the characters with card decks which offer some positive and negative attributes to the fighters. Gaining all cards takes quite a long time of prolonged play and is something to work towards considering there’s a number of rare cards to track down. With the online and local versus play adding more hours play time and you’ve got a game that can last quite some time with its 40 plus playable characters.
J-Stars Victory VS+ is a simple game that’s big on attitude and one that will please fans no end although does present itself as very accessible which might not gel so well with the purists. The game looks good enough on the PS4 with some impressive destructible arenas and generally plays without hitch although a few more animation frames and less predictability could have helped here for more tactical players. There’s lots to do if you’re into collecting all the characters and cards and an enough wit and charm to make this a welcome addition to the PS4 roster. It’s been a long year for fans to wait for this game and perhaps the lack of true localization might turn some players off but as it stands there’s a fun game here that’s worth checking out if you’re an anime fan or just looking for some good times beating the hell out of each other with over the top powers.