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J-Stars Victory Vs+

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: Chunsoft
Release Date: June 30, 2015 (US), June 26, 2015 (EU)


PS4/PS3/PSV Preview - 'J-Stars Victory VS+'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 17, 2015 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

J-Stars Victory Vs+ is a fighting game that features Manga/ Anime characters from over tons of different Shonen Jump franchises including One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z and much more.

J-Stars Victory Versus +'s cast of characters is rather overwhelming. It's gathered from decades of Shonen Jump comics both popular and obscure. Sure, there are plenty of characters people will recognize if they're fans of anime and manga. Ichigo Kurosaki, Luffy D. Monkey and Naruto have appeared in plenty of games of the years, and there's also the enduringly popular Dragonball Z cast. These legends are joined by more obscure characters, including Luckyman and Taro Yamada, the stars of obscure comedy manga (at least to English-speakers) whose history gives them the same standing to Japanese fans as someone like Goku. In short, it's a game that seemed doomed to remaining overseas but has received a North American release nonetheless.

Our demo gave us a chance to choose from a smaller selection of the cast, which includes classics like Luffy and Goku in addition to some other characters, such as Gon Freecss, Kenshin Himura and Yusuke Urameshi. When you start out, you select a team of three characters, who of whom are the main fighters, who can be selected from most of the cast. Up to two players can cooperatively join together to take on enemies if they wish, or you can leave it AI-controlled.  The third character is a support character. You can select regular characters for this role, but there are also a series of characters who are not fit for regular combat but can be called in to run support. These tend to be characters who don't normally fight but can contribute by buffing, debuffing or using comedic abilities to hinder opponents.

Combat in J-Stars Victory Versus occurs in large, open 3-D environments based on locations from the various anime and manga represented in the game. Players can move around the environment as they like, and they can take advantage of the various characters' abilities to get around more quickly. Every character has normal attacks and heavy attacks, but they also have special moves that can be used at the touch of a button. There are also super-strong finishing moves, such as Goku's Spirit Bomb, which can obliterate foes but require you to build a super bar to utilize.

The character you play as determines the fighting style. Goku, for example, is pretty at home in the air. Yusuke has to balance his close-range punches with the fact that his Rei Gun requires a long charge time to reach its maximum power. Each character is designed to play as close to his or her canonical counterpart as possible, including strengths and weaknesses. Gon Freecss from Hunter x Hunter has to charge up his Jajanken attacks, requiring him to close in on the enemy and find a vulnerable period to build up his Rock attack for maximum damage. Goku has it easier with high-powered beams and the ability to turn Super Saiyan to boost his damage output.

The game is based on trying to mimic the fast-paced anime battles from Shonen Jump properties. The environments are heavily destructible, and the fights quickly devolve into all kinds of kinetic, high-power attacks flying in every direction.  The goal of the fights in the demo was to knock out your opponents enough times to deplete his stock of lives before he could do the same to you. It's easier said than done because even AI opponents can hit pretty hard. The full version also includes a crossover story mode that gives players a chance to see the worlds of characters both familiar and new, but by and large, the focus is going to be on combat. There will also be an online battle mode for those who prefer their anime fights without the story getting the way.

J-Stars Victory Versus is an incredibly dynamic-looking game. Every character is presented with tons of style and quirk. While there is something of a shared art style, a lot of effort is expended to make characters distinctive. Yusuke and Goku don't look or fight anything like one another, and their special moves capture the flair of their shows rather than feeling generic. Kenshin's sword slashes are right out of the anime, and Yusuke's barrage of punches could've been copied right from the manga page. The game ran at a smooth frame rate in the demo, and it seemed to play rather smoothly, which is understandable since the game has been out in Japan for quite some time. The version we're getting is titled J-Stars Victory Versus + due to balance tweaks and new features, such as an Arcade mode, but otherwise, it should be very similar to the Japanese release.

It's almost unheard of for a tremendous crossover like J-Stars Victory Versus + to get a North American release, but somehow, it managed. The cast might not be completely identifiable to all but the most die-hard of anime fans, but it's so wide and varied that anyone with even a minor interest in Japanese animation, even if it is just memories of watching "Dragonball Z" after school, will find something here to like. With a cast ranging from popular to obscure, there's something for everyone, and the game is filled to the brim with fondness for the cast in equal measures. The actual fighting is fast, frantic and fun, and it has the makings of a great party game. J-Stars Victory Versus+ is due out June 30, 2015 for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita.

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