Have you ever wondered who would win if Luffy fought Ichigo? Or the ultimate battle of show offs: Joseph Joestar vs Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo? Or what would Sket Dance do backing up Goku in a fight? How hard does Chitoge slap?
Well, that’s where J-Stars comes in. It’s a mashup of many of Shonen Jump’s most well-known franchises in one epic 3-d fighting game. Welcome to Jump World, a land comprised of famous locations from these franchises. We have Alabasta, the Soul Society, Kame House, and dozens more locations waiting to be visited… and destroyed as you fight in the most epic tournament the anime universe has ever seen.
The variety of characters is this game’s strongest point. With dozens of characters represented, everyone is sure to find at least several characters you recognize. If nothing else, you’re sure to know at least some of the story mode’s major characters – Seiya, Goku, Naruto, Ichigo, Luffy, etc. With so many characters, the fear has to be that they won’t be well represented, but fear not! They actually do a relatively good job of keeping the characters… well, in character. Some liberties are, of course, taken, but the personalities feel relatively intact.
Probably the most impressive accomplishment, though, is the game’s ability to maintain distinct playstyles despite a uniform control scheme. Each character has their own distinct feel, and they’ve managed to bring out the characters’ styles and unique abilities. Whether it be Luffy’s variety of Gum-Gum attacks, Goku’s Kamehameha and Super Saiyan transformations, or Seiya’s Pegasus-inspired arsenal and Sagittarius Gold Cloth… they’ve maintained fidelity in them all and kept their distinct and unique feel intact. The buttons may be the same, but the impact of those buttons really feels different. Amazing, because when the cast gets this large, homogenization can be hard to avoid.
The combat is engaging, and I found it very satisfying to land abilities. It does lack a bit of counterplay for a fighting game, since once one character starts a combo there’s pretty much nothing the other target can do to break it. Which leads to some games seeming extremely one-sided when a big combo gets going. This is why I don’t see this game making any competitive ripples, but it is a great deal of fun just to mess around with and enjoy the fireworks.
The problem I found with the game was that the story mode was, quite frankly, too long with them not making good use of the game’s varied cast. You’ll pick a main character to follow, and be stuck with a set of 3-4 characters for several hours of play. I found myself craving a change, and every time I got a character to mix things up, inevitably they got taken away before long. With it being that long, they should’ve given you a stable roster of more than 4 characters to play with… and, to put it bluntly, forcing me to play specific characters for specific fights just felt bad. Even when I liked the character in question, I hated being forced into it.
The visuals and audio were faithful, but nothing outstanding. The one part that particularly stands out is how well they’ve translated the abilities, especially the ‘final’ abilities. They looked phenomenal and were a joy to use. But aside from that, in terms of presentation, everything was decent. The game looked okay, the characters looked decent, the music was pleasant… there’s not much else to say really.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with this game, and I think I’ll bring it back for a Gamer’s Night In stream sometime because I think this game would be an absolute blast to play with 4 people doing vs games just for shits and giggles. But my biggest take-away from this game was simple: If Shonen Jump hadn’t gone in on this game alone, this could’ve been the greatest love letter to anime ever made. Imagine if we’d had characters from Sword Art Online, Kill la Kill, Akame ga Kill, Sailor Moon, Macross, Log Horizon, Irregular at Magic High School, Sabagebu, Bladedance of Elementalers, RWBY, etc….