J-Stars Victory VS+ is actually quite a snug fit on the PlayStation Vita. The bite-sized battles feel like they're just the right size for a quick spot of portable play, and the graphics arguably look crisper than they do on the big screen. This is the same game that you can get on the PlayStation 4, which we've already covered in more detail, but the aforementioned aspects of the handheld experience perhaps make this the more fitting edition of the release.
But first, a quick overview of the title itself. Victory VS+ gathers up heroes and villains of various manga and anime creations and throws them all together in one big fighting game. For fans of numerous Japanese franchises, this very concept will be a dream come true, and all in all, the roster's diverse and large enough to be seen as a success. Many of these personalities join forces in the release's story mode, which sees you traverse a small world map via a boat as you seek out a series of important duels.
The plot's about as slapdash as it gets, coming up with daft excuses to have characters beat the snot out of each other, but it's enjoyable enough, and it succeeds in loosely tying each fight to the next. Story mode's also split into several separate paths depending on which ragtag group of warriors you decide to play as, and while this means that you can opt to play as your favourites, it's also worth pointing out that there are no real differences between the stories of each different party. As such, playing through all of the available arcs can feel like a bit of a slog, even if some light role-playing game elements like levelling up your fighters add an addictive quality.
Let's face it, though, no one's really here for the story; they just want to see manga characters destroy each other with all of their signature moves – and that's what J-Stars does best. Each brawler has access to their own combos and iconic special techniques, all of which have been faithfully recreated. Meanwhile, combat as a whole is accessible in terms of inputs and other technicalities, but it can take a little while to get used to the stop-and-start flow of battle.
At its heart, J-Stars is a team based brawler, with the open stages clearly having been designed with two-on-two scuffles in mind. As a result, one-on-one matches can seem a little devoid of excitement as you chase your opponent down, so you'll definitely want to form a duo with either the artificial intelligence or another player as often as possible.
When it's at its best, the game's a chaotic, bombastic fighter that rewards patience. Striking only when the time is right so that you're not left open is the key to success, while the victory burst system – which allows you to pull off ultimate attacks – adds some extra flash to proceedings. Victory VS+ certainly isn't the deepest anime-related brawler that you'll come across, but that doesn't mean that it can't be a lot of fun.
However, as we stated in our PS4 review of the title, it's a bit of a shame that the art direction doesn't quite capture the look of the cast. Don't get us wrong – you can obviously still tell who's who, but a generalised visual style means that everyone shares the same sort of bland appearance. Having said that, the colourful graphics do perhaps lend themselves better to the Vita's smaller screen, where they pop quite nicely.
J-Stars Victory VS+ is a reasonably solid handheld brawler that houses plenty of content. Its accessible but mostly satisfying and fun gameplay suits portable play well, even if its simplistic systems will do little to keep fans of more technical fighters engaged.