I’m in the unfortunate situation to say that J-Stars Victory VS+ isn’t a very good game. This is a shame because there was potential in some of the ideas it used but it just wasn’t able to pull it all together to make it work.
The game puts characters together from numerous anime series like One Piece, Naruto and Dragon Ball Z and throws them all into a new world. The premise of the story is that a tournament is being held and each character naturally wants to enter and win. To do that however each character must sail the open world and collect three tokens. You may select from one of numerous teams to play. Along your journey you collect crew members, complete various quests and level up.
The combat is pretty simple but unfortunately not in a good way. You have two basic buttons to mash, strong attack and quick attack. There is also a special attack button but using that consumes stamina and leaves you vulnerable for a couple of seconds. In terms of defence, you have a block button that rarely comes in use. Once attacked though, you cannot defend until the enemy finishes their combo.
I think the simpleness of the gameplay would have been a bigger issue if the AI worked properly. On normal difficulty the enemy AI often just sits there doing nothing for periods of time allowing you to easily get in a combo. The time the enemy stands and does nothing varies as you progress through the game, at an attempt to change the difficulty, from long periods at the start of the game to less frequent and shorter periods later on.
To its credit though, each character has their own unique set of moves that very much reflects the characters themselves. Despite being vastly different, the characters all feel reasonably well balanced and are generally enjoyable to play.
Battles take place on one of a handful of different decent sized battle arenas. However due to the limited number of arenas, battles end up feeling very much the same after a couple of hours. This isn’t helped by the fact that the simplicity of combat results in each battle playing out the same way.
There is no substantial voice acting in the game. General dialogue is done via text with a generic word or sound spoken in Japanese representing the characters mood. Prior to battles each character speaks a generic line of dialogue also in Japanese but that is as far as it goes.
I’m not sure if it is the translating or the original script but the dialogue is poorly written. Characters didn’t quite say things or react how I would expect them to and generally what they do say isn’t very interesting.
The general story and side quests aren’t engaging and seem more motivated to expand the length of the game than anything else. The quests also have a tendency to unnecessarily force a battle into every possible situation despite how much it doesn’t fit in with what is happening.
There is a distinct discrepancy in the visual style of the very cartoony characters and the somewhat ugly environments. While the character models may pass as current generation if assumed as a visual design choice, the environments undeniably feel as though they are straight out of the PS2 era.
A few hours into the game I found myself avoiding combat where I could, skipping conversations and ignoring side quests. When a game manages to lose me this much I think it is fair to say it hasn’t been able to achieve what it has set out to do.
Outside of the main story there are a few other modes to play. These all revolve around random battles which would have been more suitable for the game if the combat was better. Suffice to say I didn’t find myself been drawn back into these modes.
I’m now put into a very weird situation to say that I played a game as Monkey D Luffy, sailed an open world, collected crew members and battled against other popular anime characters, yet it was avery disappointing and an unmemorable experience.
While I look forward to the day where I played a great game based on an anime series, today is not that day.