Normally I write in a formal third-person style but today I want to break that to give my honest first impression of J-Stars Victory Vs+ for the PlayStation 4 and talk about my experience with the game. I got the game a couple weeks ago because I am going through yet another one of my fighting game crazes, wanting to play and “git gud” at a genre I have always loved but been terrible at. Let me preface with the fact that I love anime fighters because they do something that most games don’t, and that is capturing the feeling and spectacle of the shows.
My favorite Dragon Ball Z games were the Budokai Tenkaichi because of its plethora of characters, even adding in the useless characters for fun, and well because they are part of the shows. The gameplay may not have had the most depth or even be on par as something like Tekken or Soul Calibur but it was a cinematic feeling game that made the player feel like they were in a real Dragon Ball Z battle. Even the Xenoverse series has captured the feel, aside from it being a shallow button masher. The same could be said with the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games, but I don’t have much experience with them.
Starting J-Stars Victory Vs+ I went straight to the in-game shop to buy one of my all-time favorite Shounen manga characters, Oga and Baby Beel, from the manga Beelzebub. Next thing was to jump into free battle because I could not find a tutorial and want to try the combat. I won just button mashing trying to figure out how to play. After a couple matches I went into the J-Adventure mode, the games story mode, finally finding a tutorial.
The game features a light attack, strong attack, and special move attack, along with a guard and sprint button. After a while of trying to figure out how to pull off combos mixing light and strong attacks, it became very apparent that the game lacked even more depth than I expected. All the characters basically play the same with some really only being different when it comes to the special attacks.
Combat is lackluster and actually kind of boring. What makes it worse is most, if not all combos end with an attack sending the opponent flying, leaving the player to then chase them down. Except now the enemy is in an invincible state so they can stand up and run a few steps, giving them ample opportunity to strike you while you can’t hit back. This became incredibly frustrating to constantly chase the enemy for a tit for tat battle system.
Normal walking or running I should say is really slow especially for large maps, meaning the player has to use their sprint a lot, which lowers stamina. This affects the number of special attacks they can do and how much damage their block can take. Striking while sprint is a one-hit attack that sends the enemy flying, yet again creating a game of tag. I found myself sprinting up to the enemy and starting my combo while they are invincible, in hopes of catching them mid-combo and landing a few hits before they can strike me out of their safe state, and send me flying. Even the ultimate moves feel bad, as they are cinematic but can be spammed within the Victory mode that allows the player to use their signature attacks.
The big catch to the game is to pit fan favorite and famous Shounen anime characters against each other, thus having a game with Oga and Baby Beel was a good enough catch for me to buy the game to play with friends. If it was not for the theme and roster, the game wouldn’t really have much going for it, as the combat isn’t all that interesting. It is fun to see how different characters act, but after one round you know what they can do and move on to the next one.
Like I said, I bought it to play with friends, and the game supports split-screen battles and co-op for all modes including the story which is a nice catch. Each friend I played with had one character they really wanted to play as due to them being among some of their favorite anime characters. That was where the hype basically ended for the game. The rest of the fun came from interacting with one another, asking for help, stealing all the ultimate attack chances, or playfully teasing someone for our loss, or even bad mouthing the characters. If it was not for the multiplayer I do not see J-Stars Victory Vs+ being received well otherwise.
A big problem I have with the split screen is how the game is displayed. Putting the stamina and health bar on the bottom third of the screen, and leaving a small window that is about one half of the center third-or-so of the television for players to use, leaving a lot of unused display real estate. Luckily, we were not sitting far from my friend’s probably 32-inch tv so we could see fine, but in a normal situation where people sit further away, then it would become harder to see.
J-Stars Victory Vs+ had me interested for all of a day, and then again as a game to play with friends, but now I find myself not wanting to play it again. I most likely won’t unless I mess around in it with other people. The idea is interesting and grand to throw a bunch of cool anime characters together and see how they fight, but a lack of depth really takes away from the variety the game could have, making J-Stars Victory Vs+ feel very same like and repetitive. This has me worried for the upcoming Jump Force being developed by the same team Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd. The game looks like it has far more depth and is much more similar to a Naruto or Dragon Ball Xenoverse game, and is taking some inspiration from the Dragon Ball FighterZ tag system by Arc Systems Works, which are the only aspects that give me any bit of hope for it.
I will not be purchasing Jump Force at full price. I will wait to try it if a friend gets the game, or wait for it to drop in price drastically because I do not have hopes for it after playing what J-Stars Victory Vs+ had to offer. If anime and the characters are of interest to you and your friend group, then the game may be worth getting at a low price to mess around with, but do not hold out hope for something grandiose because that is not what J-Stars Victory Vs+ is. What the game does get right is the anime style of sending people flying and them then sending you off into the air. Maybe I am just bad at the game, maybe I am not giving the game the credit it deserves, but as of my time with the game, it has done little to please me.