JStars is a confounding experience. I don’t outwardly hate it but there is a lot about it that just doesn’t work. The first thing to note is that the controls are pretty much awful. They’ve got you pulling two button combos for almost anything outside of blocking and moving. There is no reason for it. The last I counted the PS4 controller has roughly 97 buttons on it. If you dedicated just one button to each of the moves in this game you’d still have tons left over. I can understand some logical combinations. light attack, heavy attack, and special. Then combining special with either of those buttons doing a second and third special.
But this game has you combining block and special, up and special, and lord knows what else. It’s maddening and the first of many problems. Next there is no English VA. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the Japanese VA for Goku, but if you haven’t I can’t recommend it. It’ll shatter everything you hold dear in life. This means that I need to read the text in order to understand what is going on. Unfortunately that leads us into the next problem with this game. The story mode is downright awful. The first half of story mode is literally filler. There is nothing to it. It has no impact on the “real” story. Once you are done with it you never want to go back.
You are in luck though! They let you play this four times. Four! And it’s exactly the same each time! If you want to get Platinum you are in for a hell of a grind. The total number of times you need to fight in this game to get Platinum is well over 100 matches. The biggest issue there is that, as I mentioned before, combat just isn’t really fun. The controls are nasty, they are the hardest opponent in this entire game.
Balancing is also off the chains. Assassin Senpai (or whatever his name is) shown above (the yellow alien) is a giant pain in the ass. The weirder the character looks in the game the more unpredictable (and generally broken) they are. The teacher can fire a missile from long distance which breaks through blocking doing a staggering amount of damage. He can also chain this off pretty fast and the missile homes a bit. In the challenge mode tower this will absolutely wreck you if you aren’t efficient at dodging (which again, is awful).
The actual cast is not terrible. I don’t know most of them but they each have their own quirks and are largely amusing. There is one character in particular that is very tough on the eyes. One of the worst character designs I’ve seen in a long time. He effectively amounts to “really buff guy with neck ribs.”
The maps are somewhat varied but mostly forgettable. The more open maps are better than the closed ones because the Camera is just not great. Locking onto people can be a bit of a pain and if you get hit you’ll be getting hit for a while. As far as I can tell there is no actual countering system. The AI has certainly never done it to me and I can’t seem to do it to them. Once you get hit you might as well go make a sandwich. Until you fall and trigger your invincibility frames you’ll be taking, occasionally massive amounts, of damage.
The music is inoffensive, which is great. I can’t really complain there. The sound design is pretty well done all around. The actual UI layout is not terrible but it is basically unremarkable in every sense. The “idea” of a story mode probably could have worked but the actual execution was very poor. It impresses the first time but then you realize they just did the same thing, copy and paste, and then acted like it was “new” to pad the content on disk.
I’m not quite Platinum in this game, but I still plan to do so. I won’t be liking it more than I do now but that time. I can say that with certainty. The reason that I’m being so critical is that there is no reason for this game to be this bad. The characters are pretty great, the animation on their moves is pretty great, the idea of such a crossover is pretty great. The attention to detail on the overworld is just dandy.
There is a card mechanic in the game that, while poorly defined, is fun to collect for and to manipulate. It’s a really neat idea that, like all the other good in this game, is lost in the morass of the experience.
The art on the cards is fun and varied. They almost never carbon copy from one card to the next. Each time they add some flare to the previous image, or even another character. You can tell that this wasn’t a cash grab game. I kind of wish it was, because then I’d feel less bothered by it. But I see something that could have been. I see all these fun characters and the locations in the final three fights are actually pretty cool looking. Some of the maps are memorable, though most are not.
There is a disappointment here that I have not felt in a long time. The grind remaining to get the last bits of content for this done will be long and arduous. This is a game whose entertainment the trophy group grossly overestimated. Had it been given more time, or a team that was a bit more talented, it could have easily been a blockbuster fighter. When a fight actually goes well it does feel great. But so rarely does this game feel like anything but clunky.
The controls are just so incredibly stiff. I only feel in control when I’m abusing the game mechanics.
I’m not actively mad that I played this game. It’s not “terrible” but I also don’t think it is okay. This thing walks along the precipice of my scoring system. Given enough time to heal, to deaden the stings that it has left upon my flesh, perhaps. Perhaps then, behind rose tinted glasses, I could say this game is okay. But for now I just cannot. I would not recommend this game to anyone unless you can get it for very little money and your curiosity cannot be stopped.
Your best bet is watching a compilation video of all the supers in this game. Just like the Naruto games and the Budokai games, the ultimates in this are fantastic and a joy to watch. But, again, they are buried beneath a game that just feels like it was killed by short sighted managers mistaking their position for knowledge. Or perhaps focus groups. Someone who should likely cease giving advice in game development or stop signing off on game content.
It’s not bad in the sense that it is evil or wrong. Just that it is staggeringly disappointing.