(sorry the gifs are so small that was the size of it when I downloaded the video from youtube)
Ever wonder how it would be to see your favorite manga/anime characters clash in a battle royale? Who’s stronger Goku, Luffy, Naruto? Well, look no further because this 6 year old game in Japan would answer all your questions! Jump All-stars is a fighting game for your Nintendo DS, which pits your favorite characters against each other in mission battles, where you fight to earn more “Koma” (or panels) and unlock more characters and decks, exploring each character’s universe. Onto the review!
Gameplay: Like I said before, this a fighting-genre game so it features your basic combos, with attacks ranging from Basic/Light, Hard and Special (think of Super Smash Bros it’s one button but direction controlled). We also got your double jumps and some characters have wall-jumps due to their ability (think Marvel vs Capcom 2 where Strider and Spiderman can wall jump compared to Magneto, etc.). Now, what makes this game different is your Koma Deck. Each Deck you build (or unlock) is a 4 by 5 panel where you add your two characters (usually 4-5 panels wide/long) and you add Help and Support Panels. Support Panels are basically assists; meaning you call them out during your fight and they do one attack and disappear (they have to regenerate after use). The Help Panels are things to enhance your character. For example, right now my character Luffy (One Piece) has a Piccolo and SSJ Gohan Help Panel attached to him; which allows him to regenerate Health and do more damage on physical attacks. Help Panels range from boosting attacks, to immunity to poison, to item-enhancement.
Besides fighting you obviously have to guard/block, but their is more to guarding in this game than meets the eye. Guarding prevents you from getting hurt….much. So, in order to save yourself from an onslaught their is a knockback technique, all characters have, so you guard and press Light attack to push your opponent back. Remember, how I mentioned their are teams of two? Well, switching can be done automatically and at anytime, so if you’re whooping a character and he switches out you know what you do…you use guard plus Hard and you automatically snap-back or switch their opponent out.Each stage is built like a manga panel from a characters world, so for example the DragonBall Z level is that of Planet Namek. Since each level is in a manga panel that means the walls are made of paper…you catch my drift? So, if your are beating an opponent up against the wall, the panel will rip and the opposing may fall off for a ringout/K.O. an effective strategy for rushers. Every level also contains items, ranging from in barrels, to boxes, to chests, where the items may be health, increase strength, poison, or coins; they don’t play a major role in fights, in my personal opinion.
The single player adventure mode has to do with you saving the Jump Shonen Universe. The Universe in under-attack and it is up to you to gather your friends and save your worlds. You start off with Luffy and Naruto and you work your way into different series, unlocking new things. Now, the fighting is not just a K.O. match they are mission battles, which I stated in the beginning. To clarify what a ‘mission’ battle is, it is you fight with a specific rule set. So, common missions range from defeat all enemies K.O.’s are definite (most battles you have infinite lives), collect all items, destroy all wall-panels, etc. Each mission, has rules to unlock more Koma’s like, get 5 K.O.’s or don’t get hurt!
Music: Music doesn’t play a key aspect in the game as you barely hear it with all your fighting, but it fits the sceneary.
Graphics: For a Nintendo DS game, especially for one that came out in 2006, everything is clear and well animated. From Goku launching either a Spirit Bomb or a Kamehameha, the animation is flawless. There are no framerate problems and no camera problems.
Replayability: This game has a high replay value because of its large index of characters and many combinations of decks you can create. You can team up Ichigo Kurosaki and Goku and create an ultimate deck or if you want to learn about new characters and their moves, then go for it! The only problem though may be the missions do get repetitive.
All in all I wish Jump Ultimate Stars would have made it outside of Japan, because the game is fantastic and a fun, addictive play. To see characters from Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, DBZ, One Piece, Naruto, D. Grayman, and so many others come together and fight in this fun game is something a lot of people will be upset they missed out.
Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina