J-Stars Victory vs Plus
Ever since the earliest anime creations such as the 1963 introduction of Astro Boy, there has been a loyal fan base for this form of media, with Japan being at the epicentre of all things anime. While shows such as Dragonball, Naruto, One Piece and other beloved mainstream anime franchises dominate the forefront of our minds when we talk about this form of media, the fact is that there are thousands of very well made and modestly popular anime titles that don’t get cast in the spotlight. Within J-Stars Victory vs Plus, a PSP Vita version of the full console title, you get a chance to see behind the curtain and play as some of animes hidden gems in a game that offers a really tight handheld brawling experience.
This title plays rather like the Dragonball-Z Budokai games, somewhat like the 2D retro fighters like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Tekken. Although players will probably find most similarities between this game and cross over fighting game Jump Force with its diverse list of anime characters from various franchises aiming to replicate the success of this AAA title.
Loosely Tied Together
The story within this title is bare-bones to say the least. Due to the overlapping IPs that you’ll find in this title, it seems that the writers had a real challenge on their hands making these characters have enough beef with each other to want a full-on fight to the death. They manage to achieve it well enough to merit a campaign mode and you’ll find yourself more curious about how the writer managed to piece a story together at all. What we are saying is that although it shouldn’t work, it does.
The story isn’t the key feature of this game however, it’s the combat. On that front we have to say that the developers nail it. The characters on offer have very diverse move sets, combos and special attacks that all seem relevant to the character they belong to. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a beloved character get given a bog-standard and generic move set but to this game’s credit, this never seems to occur.
Room To Breathe
The environments on offer also really suit the combat that the game is trying to deliver as well. These areas of combat are expansive, allowing for large scale battles with multiple team members. Picture Tekken Tag Team Tournament but instead of tagging fighters in, it’s a no holds barred free for all. It works fantastically and considering the limitations that a handheld system can provide, it’s handled fantastically.
One weird aspect of this one that goes against a lot of titles in the genre is the ebb and flow of battle. While most anime fighting games will see a non-stop barrage of attacks being thrown from either side, this game encourages you to pick your moments wisely. Attack too much and your opponent gains the momentum but attack too little and your opponent can build up enough of their special bar to hit you with an ultimate attack. It’s a fine line that the player must learn to walk and although it’s not in keeping with the other games in the genre, that’s not to say it isn’t a good approach.
The only downside when comparing this game to its console predecessor is that the visual quality has taken a beating. To translate this game to the PSP Vita’s hardware it’s clear that sacrifices had to be made and we can only assume that presentation took the biggest hit. It’s not the most horrible looking game in the world by any stretch and the characters are still very much recognisable. However, it’s something that returning players will immediately notice.
Throwaway Fun on The Go
Is this the deepest fighting game out there? Not at all. Is it the best fighting game produced for handheld consoles? Not even close but if you ask us if it’s fun then we have to concede, it has its moments. For a title that you can take on the go, there are plenty of content and fun battles to keep you interested for a while. In the end, you’ll probably forget this one not long after finishing it but that’s not to say it isn’t worth your time.
J-Stars Victory vs Plus is a solid anime fighter that perhaps suffers from living in the shadow of much more prominent titles within the genre. If you’re an anime aficionado, you’ll get plenty out of this one but for causal fans, maybe stick to the big-name releases.
- Plenty of content to explore
- Spacious environments for team battles
- A large roster of notable characters
- The PSP Vita hardware doesn’t offer the same visual splendour of the console version
- The story mode narrative is mindless
- Battles can be quite slow paced