Welcome to Jump World! J-Stars Victory VS+ transports us to this magical world where the wild warriors and crazy characters from the Shonen Jump universe laugh, love, and fight together. Well, mostly they fight. A lot. It’s where an enormous cast of manga characters gather to fight for the chance to be the Jump Battle Tournament Champion.
The story is thin. The action is repetitive. But just like the summer popcorn flicks we rush out to see every year, J-Stars Victory VS+ a whole lot of dumb fun.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of manga. The characters in J-Stars are unknown to me, and while I don’t know the stories of Son Goku or Monkey D. Luffy, there’s something really satisfying about teaming them up together in the ultimate battle arena.
J-Stars Victory VS+ is at its heart a fighting game. Teams of two face off against each other in an attempt to be the first to score three knockdowns. The 3-D battle arenas provide the perfect playground for combat, and since the buildings are fully destructible, the chaotic fun is soon showered under a mountain of debris.. There’s no better feeling than punching your opponent so hard his body knocks down the walls of a house.
Each battle plays out in much the same way. The characters will change. The environments will look different. The fights however will stay constant. It does get a bit repetitive at times but thankfully each of the characters are given their own unique set of fighting skills that do keep things fresh. And while they all have the same level of attacks (light attack, heavy attack, special move), the specific way they’re carried out are all varied.
For the expert fighting game fans out there, you might be a little disappointed with the level of depth to the fights as they do mainly play out as button mashing contests. Since I am not a fighting game aficionado, I really appreciate the more approachable gameplay style. It’s the kind of stupid, crazy fun you have when you get some friends together and just hammer away at each other.
Speaking of getting together with friends, J-Stars offers a few different ways to play multiplayer. It offers an online battle mode where you can search for a fight or host a room of your own. It works very well, though I did experience some problems with controlling the camera at times. It almost felt like I was having latency problems with the camera as it would lag just a beat behind where I wanted it.
Or if your buddy happens to be in the same room with you, the game also features ad-hoc play (up to four players) which also works fairly well. There’s no shortage of ways you and your friends can endlessly beat up each other while sending your favorite Jump character flying through a couple of buildings.
For the single player, J-Stars offers the J-Adventure, which is a series of four different stories in which you guide the Jump stars across different locations to build up a team and compete in the Jump Battle Tournament. Each of the four stories are relatively the same with the main difference being a change in which characters you get to play. The main action is once again the fights with a fun little map you get to sail around to get from one location to the next.
The story is absurd, and the dialogue is corny and laughable. That’s not to say it’s all bad, as I found myself chuckling on occasion, but as with any fighting game, you’re just looking for reasons so the characters can go at it. You can’t just hire a guy to help you on your boat. No. You need to defeat him in battle first!
If you want to skip the story, you can jump right into the action with either the Arcade mode or Free Battle. These, along with Victory Road, dispense with the attempt at a story and instead just throw you straight into the action. I found them to be fun and challenging, but since I’m not as familiar with the characters, I appreciated the J-Adventures more. This gave me a best of both worlds approach since I was able to learn more about the different characters while also being able to fight in a seemingly endless series of battles.
J-Stars is also surprisingly a very good looking game. The character models and animations are all very detailed and fluid. The environments look fantastic, and while the destructible buildings may not be highly detailed as they collapse, they look good doing it. The colors in Jump World really pop which gives the game a true anime feel. I was extremely impressed with how the game looked and sounded so close to its source material.
My biggest problem with the game overall was the repetitive nature of the combat. This isn’t exactly the kind of game you want to sit through and marathon for hours at a time. But in small doses, with a fight or two here and there, I thought it worked quite well. Each fight only takes a few minutes to complete, so the pick up and play aspect is well in tact here. I find myself wanting to go back to the game constantly, but after 15-20 minutes I’m ready to put it down.
J-Star Victory VS+ is the epitome of fan service. It collects a large number of characters from across a number of different story-lines and allows them to battle each other in the search for the true Jump champion! It’s a game that is as accessible as it is fun, and while the hardcore fighters might sneer at its lack of depth, to me it fits the bill just right.
(Note: J-Stars Victor VS+ does not allow the PS Vita to take direct screenshots. The images in this review are representative of how the game looks but are not from the Vita)