J-Stars Victory Vs. Good for Huge Anime Fans, Meh for Everyone Else (TGS Hands-on Preview)

Janelle and I played a couple rounds of J-Stars Victory Vs. for PS3. As its title indicates, the game is loaded with heroes from a wide assortment of Japanese anime and manga. Represented franchises include One Piece, Bleach, Ruroni Kenshin, Naruto, and more.

J-Stars Victory Vs. sets heroes in an arena and has them slug it out in a team-based fight. Victory is gained by filling up a win-o-meter rather than the usual method of depleting everyone’s life bar. Each character does have a life bar, but being knocked out is only a temporary setback rather than a permanent stoppage.

Fill up a special meter, and your team gets a shot to perform a cinematic special move.  Individuals can perform big attacks with cutaway movie hype as well.  This is the kind of stuff that fans will love, and it’s done with nice visuals and all the style one could ask for.
It was a little rough to string a big combo together, but not because of the combo mechanics being challenging — it was because of ridiculous amount of invulnerability. It seemed like characters would suddenly become impervious after any blow, including being knocked into the air or getting freight trained onto the ground. I get that you need it once in a while, but it felt like a bit much in JSVS, and got in the way of what should have been a frantic fight pace. You want those heroic moments when you swing the momentum of a match by laying a huge beatdown on someone. Or in the reverse, bouts can be more exciting when you’re being stomped on, and then your teammate comes to the rescue by fireballing two people off your back. Those are the moments that can make a game like this exciting, but they’re not to be found in J-Stars Victory Vs.  Perhaps a player just needs more time to adjust to the stick-and-move fighting style that J-Stars favors? Fifteen minutes at a trade show doesn’t always tell the whole tale, of course.

Video thanks to Saiyan Island

It feels like someone built a good-enough multiplayer fighter, someone else was looking for an excuse to put a bunch of anime characters in a ring together, and then Harry met Sally.  It will likely have a big, attractive roster to anime fans, but the fighting itself lacks the polish and fun of something like Smash Bros. or PS All-Stars.

What JSVS does have going for it is its genre; it is a decent multiplayer team-based fighter, of which there are so few.  That alone makes it a little bit refreshing, at least for a while. The mechanics themselves leave something to be desired, and the roster appeals almost entirely to shounen anime fans, but it can at the very least provide some decent group fun. Huge fans of anime like Dragon Ball and Toriko might consider an import, as the game might not make it stateside.  Those who don’t love the source material, meanwhile, will not be missing much.