Friday, September 18, 2015

Jump Superstars DS Review

I went down to the Book Off store in south Kagoshima, a 30-minute tram ride from Tenmonkan, specifically to see what kind of used DS games they had. They've got a bigger selection than the other Book Offs, but there were only 2 games that I had any interest in, partly because they were 500 yen or less, and partly because they were either manga tie-ins, or RPGs. I picked up Jump Superstars and Valkyrie Profile for 750 yen total ($6.50 USD).

(All images used for review purposes only.)

Jump Superstars (Gambarian, 2005), Grade: C-
Superstars came out in 2005 in Japan, whereas White Comic, which was a similar idea tying the characters from Shonen Sunday and Shonen Magajin together for their 50th anniversaries, was released 4 years later. I'm tempted to claim that Jump ripped off the idea from White Comic, but that would be incorrect. Anyway, the concept is that many of the characters from the manga that ran in Shonen Jump magazine get a chance to unite and fight it out in a side-scroller environment. Essentially, you get a "deck" that can have up to 3 fighters, and then some supporting characters for special attacks or healing. You can only have 1 fighter at a time, but when he/she is close to being KO'd, you can switch for someone healthier. If all characters get KO'd, you get the first one back, but there's a delay before you can play them.

(Literal world map. Each planet unlocks when you get to specific stages in the game.)

There's a lot of jumping around, racing to open chests or barrels to get coins, points or healing items. There's also a bit of strategy, in that the fighters have a rock-paper-scissors alignment (comedic-serious-action), and choosing the correct fighter for the opponent you're facing will make things a bit easier because you'll deliver 50% more damage. I generally just ignored that and kept mashing the attack and jump buttons a lot.

(Board game-style field map. You only travel around the track. "M" stands for a "mission" fight, and "B" is for an actual battle. You can't enter the buildings.)

The animation is crude, and basically this is just a fight game, where half the time your enemy is a 50-gallon drum, or a large crate - very boring. The world map has nothing to do with the game - it's just there to support the board game-style movement track you have to follow to advance the story. The plot is that the evil editor character from Toriyama's Dr. Slump has stolen the pages of Jump World, and you have to get them back. The fights are either battles with a key manga character, or a mission. With battles, you can have up to 3 NPC opponents at one time, and the one with the most KO's wins. Missions are just plain outright pointless, such as trying to run away for 25 seconds without getting hit, bounce a treasure chest a certain number of times before time runs out, or destroy all the walls of the fight space. Completing each fight with specific conditions (not using the B button, getting 5 KO's in 30 seconds, etc.) will unlock manga page pieces that can then be used for creating new characters so you can make your own custom fight deck.

(Standard pre-made fight deck, with Naruto, Luffy and Bobobo as the 3 combat characters, and 2 supporting characters. You activate them by touching the lower DS screen during a fight.)

The artwork and music are all good, but the world map is a complete waste because you can't enter any of the buildings. I don't like arcade-style fight games in any event, and I consider the missions here to be overly frustrating and not very interesting. The only reason for getting the game was to look at the manga character artwork.

(A battle fight against the computer. The NPCs can switch characters, too, so you could be facing Luffy one minute, and Jojo the next for the same NPC.)

Summary: I gave up on Superstars after unlocking the final world map continent, when I couldn't get past the mission for destroying all of the walls of the cage space. The game play is slow and you can't bypass the intro animations or explanations when you replay a mission to unlock the remaining comic panels by meeting conflicting requirements. There was a Jump Ultimate Stars game released in 2006, but that's still selling for 1500 yen, used, so maybe it's a better game. Anyway, I don't recommend Superstars.

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