Back in the day before the wide spread access to Anime, there were very few places to get your fix – let alone very few series you could watch. Let’s break it down: Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z and Ghost in the Shell. Now I had somehow gained access to the Dark Horse version of the Ghost in the Shell Manga, and desperately wanted to watch the movie. So desperate in fact, that I somehow convinced my mother into picking me up the movie. She had now idea what she was buying and even was more shocked when we sat down as a family to watch the movie. To her credit she watched it, I think she liked more then Akira…
Fast forward a couple of years and Anime has taken off. Might have been the whole Yu Gi Oh phenomenon but during this time there was a magazine debuting in the states for the first time called Shonen Jump. Now at this point in my Otaku-ism I had already ventured to the Japanese Marketplace and had picked up the Japanese version of Shonen Jump on more then one occasion. Even going so far as to pick up Jump Superstars Video game on the Nintendo DS. It was an instant hit for me – but I wanted more… To be a tad specific I wanted a little more variety.
Enter the world of J-Stars Victory Vs which sold me with two characters: Kenshiro (Fist of the North Star) and Jonathan Joestar (Joe Joe’s Bizarre Adventure). What promised to be a smorgashbord of Anime characters mixed with a brawling style fight engine. Was this the ultimate Anime cross over?
The gameplay is broken up into two segments, the story elements and the fight engine. During the storymode, you captain a Pirate Ship and steer along vast oceans attempting to accomplish a variety of quests. May sound simplistic but whoever wrote the English translation had a solid sense of humor. The story is largely built around the concept of having the ultimate Jump tournament. The humor is very reminiscent of Samurai Pizza Cats. As you float along you need to be aware of your surroundings as other ships can attack you along with general environmental hazards along the way. Most events though lead you to one conclusion, Fighting.
Being a fighting game this is a good thing right? The fight engine is very interesting and not at all what I was anticipating. A analogy to the gameplay can be describe as Power Stones with Anime Characters. Meaning this is a 3D Brawler, though the playing field is rather large and very destructible. Meaning anything you punch or get thrown into will likely explode.
The overall battle system takes a while to get used to. You have a main fighter, team member and a support. Every fight begins with you and your opponent being placed on opposite ends of the map. Which essentially means you gotta find your opponent first before you can start fighting. While you have a teammate, your opponent on occasion will have the same.
Most of combat can be performed on the ground, but you do have the option to leap onto nearby buildings for more aerial approach. I found this to be very distracting and wasn’t really flushed out enough to make it viable. You can also lock onto your opponent so it’s easier to attack – which does help when doing your specials. As you continue to battle you’ll charge up your Super Attack. Or you can also team up with your whole crew. The specials are very handy as they can quickly help you end the battle.
While I did enjoy the fight engine, the maps seemed a little too large. Which made it difficult to actually start the fighting. With the additional team member it was also a bit overwhelming as you can’t really double team effectively. If you jump in and start a combo attack, you can actually stop your teammates combo.
While most Anime games have an option for Dub or Subtitled, Jstars VS didn’t have an English voice option. Which for me is quite fine, and I could more then understand why. Most if not all of the games Voice Over work is done in short one liners. All the remaining voice acting is basically just expressions of emotion. As for the music, there really isn’t anything to write home about – but it certainly did it’s job. It’s entertaining enough to make the gameplay enjoyable.
I’m not sure where I stand on the graphics, they certainly weren’t bad by any means. But after you play enough Cyber Connect 2 titles aka: Any of the Naruto Ninja Storm series you have been a tad spoiled. Everything looks good, and performs well enough. I do wish that they used the CG Characters for the dialogue scenes, it was a strange contrast to have the anime screenshots talking – then go into 3D fights. Almost jarring at times.
I’m not sure where I stand with this title. It was certainly fun, and I had fun playing it. But there was some areas I felt that it could improve upon. There is a lot of replay value to be had and if you are a die-hard Anime Fan this is a must own.