This is a game that was definitely unlikely to come to America when it first came out. If this had arrived just a few years earlier, I’m confident that it never would have made the trip to the USA. Luckily, we’re starting to get better with licensing anime fighters like this one thanks to the power of leaving their voices in Japanese. It’s a trade off that I’m definitely willing to make and I’m sure that many anime fans actually prefer it this way. The crossover is as great as you could expect!
There actually is a Story Mode in this game. Essentially, all of the various Shonen Jump manga series actually take place on an incredibly large planet called Jump World. Before you start the story, you can choose to play as Luffy, Toriko, Naruto, or Ichigo. Depending on who you pick will determine which characters you meet along your quest to enter the legendary tournament and prove your superiority to the rest of the cast. Along the way, you can help other characters through quests and recruit some strong fighters to your team. Once you complete the tournament, the real villains appear and they aren’t here to have tea!
I mentioned that this was a crossover already, but I should explain a little more about how extensive it is. Just like how Super Smash Bros crossovered characters from the many Nintendo franchises, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale did the same for Sony’s fighters, Marvel vs Capcom brought together characters from their companies, and Justice League vs Mortal Kombat did a nice mixup, J-Stars Victory Vs did the same thing. There are 39 playable characters from 24 different series. Coincidentally…or not, Super Smash Bros for Wii U also represents 24 different series thanks to the inclusion of Ryu from Street Fighter. Super Smash Bros does have over 10 extra characters to J-Stars, but this is just the beginning for the J-Stars franchise and we can look forward to more sequels at some point. Video Game Crossovers are always a lot of fun and as I’m a fairly huge Shonen Jump fan who has read several of the series, I can definitely appreciate the interactions. I’ve read 12 of the 24 series that are in J-Stars so I definitely know a lot about more of the characters.
Also, you heard me right. There are actually a lot of interactions and a fairly deep plot in story mode. This is something that quite a few of the other crossovers that I mentioned lack like the new Super Smash Bros and MVC3. It was great that the game added the story mode as it adds more enjoyment to any title. I completed Luffy’s Story Mode and aim to do the other 3 at some point in the near future. I decided to do one story mode, then complete another game, and rinse/repeat the process until all 4 are done.
Aside from Story Mode, there are quite a lot of other things to do here. There’s an Arcade Mode that you can play to test your skills. Completing it doesn’t seem to actually unlock anything as far as I know, but it’s a great way to earn money and may be even more effective than Story Mode at that. There’s also a mode titled Victory Road, which is basically an Arcade Mode that is more mission based. There seem to be quite a few levels to complete here, but an incentive is that you will get 3 trophies as you complete it. That’s not a bad deal!
Those 3 modes alone should already take you many hours to complete. This is no short game by any stretch of the imagination. The replay value is essentially limitless as the gameplay is a lot of fun so you can enjoy many matches in local multiplayer or through online. Trying to nab the Platinum will also extend the journey a little. It’s not too much of a grind though and it’s not unreasonable either. It will force you to really experience the Story Mode as you will have to complete several extra quests and fight more ships than you would have otherwise. You will also need to complete all Victory Road battles along the way. The Platinum is worth the effort though since it’s the ultimate bragging right as far as the PS3 trophies are concerned.
Now, it’s about time that I talk about the actual gameplay right? It’s a 3D brawler and you have to defeat your opponent a certain amount of times in order to win the match. You can do a 1 on 1 battle or go up to 4 on 4 at a time. 1 on 1 is probably the most direct, but 4 on 4 can be quite epic since so many things are happening at once. You have standard attacks as well as power ones and special abilities. You can use the R1 button to block or mix it with the other attacks for even more techniques. You really have a lot of attack options, but you will most likely find yourself sticking to one or two favorite combos after a while. I’ve been playing as Luffy a lot so I go with his rapid fist option all of the time.
Once your team has gotten enough encouragement, they will be ready to go into their Victory Modes. At that point, you can use your Final Smash to attack the opponents. Even if you are a team of 4, you will only control 1 character. The other 2 will be helping out as A.I. allies and one character can be used as a support fighter like in Marvel vs Capcom 3. I felt like a lot of effort went into the gameplay because each character feels like he/she did in their own games. I can really only speak for Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, because I haven’t really played modern games for most of the other franchises. Naruto’s combos feel like they did in Ninja Storm, while Goku’s combos seem to be straight from the BT series. Even Ichigo’s attacks feel like they did in Soul Resurrection. This way, you know what you are doing with your favorite character right off the bat if you had already played that character’s game earlier.
The soundtrack is naturally very good as it uses music from all of the various SJ titles. You can even choose which music theme you want to play for when you activate your Victory Burst. The large variety of themes is a lot of fun and most of the series get their own stage as well. My favorite is probably the Athena one with my least favorite being the Bleach stage. It’s unfortunate, but there are just too many walls to navigate around if you ask me. The graphics are solid and you can easily tell who’s who. The manga effect isn’t quite as smooth as it is for the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series, but it’s still good and effective at evoking that manga effect that the game is going for. Nothing beats looking at the Kamehameha wave..unless it’s being tossed at you!
Now, we have to compare the game to Super Smash Bros for a minute here. Super Smash Bros does win the battle in terms of soundtrack, graphics, gameplay, and replay value, but J-Stars takes it down when it comes to the story mode aspect since Super Smash Bros surrendered that. Taking one win against the ultimate video game is still some good bragging rights though and I look forward to seeing what J-Stars has up its sleeve for the sequel.
Overall, J-Stars Victory Vs+ was a lot of fun. It’s still amazing that the game actually managed to come out in America. This is certainly worth purchasing and there’s enough content to last you here for quite a while. I’m still working on getting the Platinum on the side so you can expect an update for this game at some point. As a big Shonen Jump fan, I can do no less! I eagerly await a sequel for this game and wonder which other characters will be added to the fray. Hopefully we can get around 60 playable characters next time so each franchise can have more reps. This is easily one of the best PS3 games on the block so you need to purchase it as soon as possible!