Following up from last time we have another 4 person, anime based fighting game. 2 vs 2 instead of a 4 player mess and the game is a little better over all but still lacking. The games is far from the DS Jump games that also had many issues but were really fun and had a lot more comment, seemingly replaced to have better graphics that...look weird at times.
I am not normally one to talk about graphics or how a game looks as it normally doesn't bother me (and the images do a better job showing it than my words ever could) and the overall style of the game is quite nice but the issue comes with the characters coming from not only diffrent managaka but from diffrenct grenerations what creates a weird...contrast? as not only do art styles change from person to person but by generation, (quick google of anime by decade should show what I mean if you don't already know) what is more apparent in the 3D compaired to the old 2D ones. I might once again spend the whole review compairing the game to an older similar game but that's not my fault. Games should improve not get worse and when they are worse than something similar, comparisons just flow...
Anyway, Gameplay. The game comes down to 2 vs 2 battle with a timed assist character over a somewhat large 3D map. There are around 50 characters with some being support only characters what is actually a cut back from Jump Ultimate Stars that had over 100 characters between battle and support as well as many help characters and characters with multible forms.
J-Stars, like Jump Superstars and Jump Ultimate Stars before it, Aren't balanced at all. Character strenght seems to be based on a combination of how popular they are (this is helped by if thier series is still running or not) and how strong they are in thier actual series. To this point characters tend to come down to 4 types. Characters who have quick ranged attacks that seem to cover the entire map and do good damage, Characters who have stun effects and can seem to pull off near infinite combos even though you get invinsability frames when getting back up, Characters who can do both, And the characters who die to the first three because they can't do one or two.
Of course I am over simplifying it as you could over come strong characters with stratagy, working together and using support characters. Sadly this never happens. Regardless if your partner is CPU or another person the battle tends to split into two 1 vs 1 battles with the only time either help the other being when they have KO'd thier opponent (You need to KO the opponent 3 times to win the battle) and the team only gets one support between you so if your partner uses it and you need it you are out of luck. This happens a lot online where even if your partner doesn't know how to use the support character you have (in an online game you both pick a support character and it randomly picks one before each battle) they will spam use it when ever cool down wares off, wasting it even if it isn't a battle character. (Some support only characters have non battle abilitys like healing, making you invisable or moving enemys lock on to you)
The battles also don't flow well. While it is great fun to run around with characters you know using thier techniques, as soon as you land one you are basicly left waiting and on the defensive as the enemy then gets up with invinsability frames (what seem to last twice as long for the CPU) where anything you do will be ignored for a time and the enemy can counter. This, assuming your character doesn't have a projectile (many don't) make it feel more like a back and forth that punishes you for doing well. You may be thinking something along the lines of "Well use that time to help your ally" but doing so only leads to you both standing there waiting for invincibility frames to ware off or being hit from behind.
Mode wise you get a basic story mode what is split into four where you select the Luffy, Naruto, Toriko or Ichigo storylines (what are all the same really just changes what characters are avaliable to use) and to be honest calling it "Story" more is being kind as there is very little and super basic to the point of saying about it would spoil it.
Victory Road what follows battles that increase in difficulty with set challenges for you to complete such as taunt five times or win without your team being KO'd once.
Arcade mode what seems to be the new addition to the game and what earned it the + in the name. In it you select certain courses where the opponents all seem to fight a certain way.
Free battle for people who still play local co-op. An intresting thing of note, as the games battle type is 2 vs 2, in many of the battles/modes you can team up and do it 2 player local co-op what is a nice addition for people who do local co-op.
And Online battles...what is already dead with long waits to find a partner and even longer waits to find an opponent. Though in the 20+ matches I did, most games were set to Any region just so I could find an opponent and only one match was ever laggy so when it works it works.
One disapointing thing how ever is the removal of quiz mode the older games (or at least JUS had) where you would answer trivia questions about the Manga/anime series included in the game. While it is somewhat in the game as a rare quick before battle question it is really disapointing it can't be chosen to do for fun, especially since this is the first of the Jump game series to actually be translated into english meaning I could have actually read and answered the questions for once D:
*cough* Conclusion. It is simply not as good as JUS was. JUS was a game I couldn't even read because I don't know the language but I got the rom, 100%ed it then imported an actual copy and 100%ed it again. J-Stars however I wouldn't buy again even if it does have cross save features (allowing you to use the same save on PS4,3 and vita).
It's not a bad game at all it's just...average and made to seem a bit worse by games that came before it. Score wise I would have to give it a 5/10. True average.(unlike most places that consider 7 or 8/10 average I use logic)
If course this game comes with the strong bullet point...
If you don't like manga/anime or more specificly Jump manga/anime you won't like this game
That should be obvious. However if you do you probly will. Possibly more than I did if you don't keep thinking "I'm not enjoying this as much as JUS". If intrested I would wait for the price to go down or grab the vita version if possible since even at release that was about £10 cheaper than the PS4 version I got....
Sure the game is a decent lenght to 100% but...money...