Saturday 18 July 2015

J-Stars Victory VS+

I won't lie and say I've read a lot of manga, but I have checked out a good deal of it. If it's in any way science fiction related and has a nice art style, I'm there. Though I have stopped reading certain manga series' before they finished, I think I have a decent enough knowledge of manga related characters. So with this latest game featuring a huge cast of manga characters, I assumed once I jumped into it I'd recognize a lot of them. Sadly this was not the case. But now, 20 or so hours after playing it, I know my Kankichi Ryotsu from my Meisuke Nueno and my Yusuke Urameshi from my Shoyo Hinata. Well, not exactly, but I still feel pretty schooled in the art that is hey-I-know-the-manga-character!

Developed by Spike Chunsoft and out now for Playstation 4, Playstation 3 and PS Vita comes J-Stars Victory VS+, an excellent fighting game aimed towards those who find themselves immersed in the world of manga from time to time. Though the characters in this game are from a wide array of manga titles and worlds, J-Stars Victory VS+ is set in a single world in which all of these iconic characters live. This world is named Jump World, and the story revolves around the characters taking part in the J Battle Festival, which is essentially a fighting tournament that takes place every 45 years. 

The first thing you notice about J-Stars Victory VS+ are its visuals and presentation. Though many need to be unlocked in the J-Adventure mode, there are a total of 52 characters on offer here. Each one has been plucked from a huge array of popular manga titles, including favourites such as First of the North Star, Bleach, Dragon Ball, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Naruto and One Piece. Each character that turns up in J-Stars Victory VS+ looks exactly like their manga counterpart, and though this means that there's a wide array of massively different art styles in play in the game, it never feels disjointed or clumsy. The next thing you'll notice is how colourful the game is, something that you strangely can't really say about many games these days. Levels are open world and very large in scope, and offer up a nice variety of cool environments to kick ass in. From Naruto's village Konoha, Soul Society from Bleach to the superb Vegetable Sky from Toriko (a stage filled with gigantic vegetables and mushrooms) J-Stars Victory VS+ is not a dull looking game. Compared to other fighting games in which you'll be locked into a small fighting arena, J-Stars Victory VS+ gives you a chance to run around, explore to a certain degree and stretch your feet. The game's visuals and character designs will pull you into the experience, but its combat will keep there.

At its heart combat is simplistic, so going into this game just don't expect something on the level of Street Fighter IV. Sure, each character has their own move-set which you of course can master, but with the game centring around a special attack, strong attack and light attack move-set for each character, chances are if you master one character on the expansive roster you'll most likely do just as well with other characters. That said, combat is a lot of fun, and this is mostly down to the over-the-top manga style that J-Stars Victory VS+ oozes through your TV. Because the game is based around the wild world of manga, attacks are insanely powerful, hilariously designed and make for fights that look like they're right out of the pages of your favourite manga. There's nothing quite like pummelling your opponent with a flurry of nicely timed light attacks, only to follow it up with a massive special attack that sends them crashing into a nearby market stall. Needless to say, combat in J-Stars Victory VS+ is more about speed and spectacle rather that skill, and it makes no apologies for that just because it works so damn well.

But hey, don't worry, as even if you're not a fan of manga you'll get a lot of fun from J-Stars Victory VS+. It's a fighting game that offers a world map full of locations to duel in, open-world stages that really give nice possibilities for fast, frantic and exciting combat, a bloody massive roster of characters that are all armed with bizarre special attacks, a number of game modes that let you face off against opponents in a survival match, online play with friends in a 2 vs 2 battle, and a mode that effectively schools you on the history to the characters you're playing as. So yeah, it's a game jam packed with content, but though non-manga fans will enjoy it, if you do know and love these characters already- you're going to lose your shit with J-Stars Victory VS+.

J-Stars Victory VS+ is over 9000 and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

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