When J-Stars Victory Versus+ was first announced to release in North America for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, I was surprised as I was under the impression, along with many other fans, that it was almost impossible for the game to make it to the west due to all the licensing issues Bandai Namco would have to deal with.
For those not in the know, J-Stars Victory Versus+ is an anime-crossover fighting game featuring different Shonen Jump series released throughout the years.
This includes classic series such as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Saint Seiya and Dragon Ball, as well as newer series like Kuroko’s Basketball, Madaka Box and Assassination Classroom.
This is not the first time Shonen Jump characters have clashed in battle, as there have been other titles such as Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars for the Nintendo DS, and Battle Stadium D.O.N for the PlayStation 2 and Gamecube. The latter consisted of only Dragon Ball, One Piece and Naruto.
Unlike its Japanese counterpart, the Western release of J-Stars Victory Versus+ has five different gameplay modes including J-Adventure, Victory Road, Free Battle, Online Mode and Arcade Mode, (the latter being exclusive to the North American version).
J-Adventure is basically the game’s story mode, which is divided into four different arcs: the Dynamic Arc with the leading character Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece, the Hope Arc with Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto, the Investigation Arc with Toriko and the Pursuit Arc with Ichigo from Bleach.
Each arc will take you through an adventure across many places from the Shonen Jump universe, meeting characters from each individual series as well. The story revolves around Jump God summoning various heroes to fight in a World Tournament. The winner of this tournament will get any wish they want granted.
Aside from each arc featuring different characters, thus a different dialogue, the overall story isn’t different as each arc will share the same ending. However, it is worth your while to play through each arc as it’s entertaining seeing the interaction between your favorite characters.
You’ll be able to complete side-quests by talking to different characters from the franchises who serve as NPCs, such as Karin and Master Roshi from the Dragon Ball universe or Athena from the Saint Seiya universe.
Free Battle allows the player to play either with a friend locally or with the CPU, with different options including playing single battles and team battles. It also allows you to select COM vs. COM so you can sit down and watch while the computer fights it out.
Additionally, the game also lets you to choose the COM’s difficulty, life gauge, the duration of the battle itself and character types, which include Friendship (which is based on Stamina) Effort (which is based on Power) and Victory (which is based on Defense).
In Arcade Mode, you will be able to fight a series of six tough CPU opponents divided into different categories including Technique, Brave, Strong and much more. While this mode offers nothing out of the ordinary but it does add replayability to the game.
The combat system of the game takes a free-roam like point of view such as Spike Chunshoft’s previous work, letting you freely walk around around any stage you chose, such as Namek from Dragon Ball, Alabasta from One Piece, Soul Society from Bleach, and more.
Players can summon their support character every once in a while during a battle since it has a 30 second cool down. Even then they are of great help as their single attack has multiple purposes such as breaking out enemy combos, thus protecting you by minimizing damage, as well as adding to your own combo chain.
While the game’s combo system isn’t deep, you can definitely pull off some nifty combos and even make greater combos with the help of your partner and your support character. This game isn’t your average fighter, as it has a slightly different objective.
You must defeat the other team at least three times to win the match, as well as try to put as much damage as possible to fill up your Victory Burst gauge.
This rewards you with the ability to pull off your Ultimate Attack, giving you the opportunity to earn another victory and win the match if the attack lands.
Naturally, every anime-based fighting game will always have overpowered characters, or those that are especially really cheap and J-Stars Victory VS+ isn’t an exception. Sadly, these characters are abused online.
While a game allowing split-screen is always a plus in my book, the game doesn’t have a good layout for it as the HUD takes half of the screen, making the actual gameplay screen smaller and more difficult to deal with.
Like many other games, the online stability relies on the player’s internet connection, so for the most part I didn’t have any issues playing online with others.
Minus the people that like to ruin a game’s online experience by using cheap characters, I actually had fun playing the game with other players. One of my gripes, however, is that you can’t play single battles and you’re forced to play with two other players or the CPU.
Victory VS+ allows you to customize your character by equipping cards, which results in buffing up your character in various areas such as Stamina, Health, Defense, Support Character cool off reduction and many others that will give you an advantage in battle.
As far as the PlayStation 4 version goes, players most likely cannot use their own soundtrack as the system doesn’t allow you to store your music library. It is possible that the feature is still in the PS3 version, however.
While J-Stars Victory VS+ doesn’t compare to the previous Shonen Jump crossover titles, it is definitely a must get for Shonen Jump fans who would love to see their favorite characters clash in battle.
It may have its flaws, but as an anime fan, I was definitely satisfied by the premise and content.