Everyone, Including the Kitchen Sink | J-Stars Victory VS+ Vita Review
I love crossovers. There’s just something that’s really cool seeing these characters who exist in separate “universes” collide, or come together, and J-Stars Victory VS+ is one of those games that immediately got my attention. This is the first Shonen Jump crossover game that’s been released in North America. For those not in the know, Shonen Jump is a long running, weekly comic anthology that has spawned some of the world’s most beloved characters, like Naruto, Goku, and Luffy. Now this isn’t the first Shonen Jump crossover game, just the first one non-Japanese fans easily have access to play. Enough with the history lesson, how does it play?
J-Stars Victory VS+ is an arena based fighter. Teams are made up of two players with one support player that can be called into action. The support characters are only available as support and aren’t actually playable. In first player mode, only the first character chosen is playable. So switching between characters is a no-go. However, the victory conditions in the game are a little bit different. It feels more like an FPS than a traditional fighter. At the top of the screen there is a WIN gauge. Every time a character is downed, the gauge goes up. However a character that is taken out will just respawn a few seconds later. So it is possible to still lose even if your character is wrecking shop if your partner isn’t very good. Luckily,it seems like the computer AI isn’t too bad on it’s own.
As for the main combat, combos are pretty short unless an attack has a high hit rate. Also, attacks from teammates doesn’t add to the combo. So you can’t tag team an enemy. Luckily, once a character hits the ground, he has a second of invulnerability, so there’s no chance to keep a character constantly stunned. One of the biggest issues I had with the game is getting to know some of the deeper mechanics. Before I jumped into J-Adventure mode, I tried to play a round of the game and was thoroughly crushed. After playing a little of the J-Adventure mode, I got used to the objectives of the game and the general gameplay. The syles are what confused me more. I didn’t see anything in the game that gave me a hint at what it’s supposed to do. The other problem I had with the game were the controls. Due to the limited number of inputs on the Vita, some of the controls were mapped to sections of the touchscreen. While some stuff made sense, like summoning support, other functions were incredibly frustrating to activate, like targeting opponents. In a large arena, it makes finding and attacking the opposing team difficult. It was incredibly frustrating to try to target an enemy but instead activate a team attack. I don’t know why the right analog stick wasn’t used for targeting. Sure, it’s used to control the camera, but being able to quick target would have made things easier and fluid.
J-Stars Victory VS+ is out on every current Sony platform, but how does the Vita version look? Not too bad, actually. The game runs very smoothly, with some really good character models. The arenas aren’t that great looking with lower textures, but the environments are destrucible. So it’s hard to complain too much. Plus it’s fun to scale the buildings and do an air attack to an unsuspecting enemy below. The presentation is very comic book-y with a lot of generic comic panels adorning the menus and lots of high energy typography. As for audio, the voice actors from the anime the character comes from are present, but the voice clips are pretty short and just general phrases. The game’s audio is only in Japanese. More than likely due to legal contracts and stuff, but it’s not a deal breaker. The game is meant to celebrate the Japanese magazine’s 45th anniversary.
I enjoyed my time with J-Stars Victory VS+; it was a great time seeing these characters join in together and fighting alongside one another. The game certainly isn’t very deep, but having Joseph Joestar, Ichigo and Sauske all on the same team is a blast. I’d imagine getting four people together to play would make this that much more enjoyable than slogging through a single player campaign. One thing to be aware of though for new players is that there is a very small selection of characters unlocked from the start. Annoyingly so. You’ll need to grind some in-game coins to get more characters to play. And while I love being able to unlock characters, starting off with so few really sucks.
J-Stars Victory VS+ is also available on the Playstation 4 and the Playstation 3.