The unwieldy name should be your first clue; this is indeed an anime game. And perhaps one of the most anime games that ever anime-d, a title that was designed to celebrate the anniversary of legendary manga studio Jump finally allows us the opportunity to answer the age old questions of life. Mostly ones like “Who would win in a fight between Ichigo, Naruto, Goku and Luffy?”
Drawing characters from even the most unknown in the West franchises, J-Stars has about 40 playable characters, with settings and support characters bringing the total up even higher. The most famous franchises have a couple more characters per entry, but at the same time it does feel like everyone gets a fair chance to represent.
Single player modes include an arcade and challenge mode, and a very haphazard sort of story campaign. Players pick one of four storyline options, and are given a small boat in an overworld by which they can paddle around from place to place, completing story missions and side missions alike. However, these plots are very shallow, the characters are reduced to their most basic characterisations, and gameplay still only consists of battling whoever you find.
J-Stars Victory VS Plus does a bit better in a party setting, which I believe, was the intention of the designers in many ways. Up to four players can fight in the same match, and it can be frenetic and fun in a certain way. Battles are conducted in an open arena, with full 3D movement. Characters can run, jump, dodge, block and dash, and can attack back by a simple combo system of heavy and light attacks, with additions of super attacks famous from their series. Ultimate attacks can be made after delivering enough damage to the opponents. Characters have enough little touches to feel distinct both as fighters and as representatives from their series, and the art style supports the game well to make all characters feel like they fit in. However, spamming one successful move is too easy to fall into, and there are some very annoying parts, like when you have to do an ultimate attack over and over again, which are extended and unskippable for no reason, making fights feel like they lag a bit.
The fighting system is serviceable, but the game really would not have been released without the famous faces on it. It seems very much a fan driven game, and that’s okay, but for mainstream support I don’t have a great deal to recommend it. If you are an anime fan and have anime fan friends, you should maybe pick this up, but if not, you may find yourself getting very tired of it very quickly.