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DS

Japan

Jump Super Stars

by Ty Shughart - August 17, 2005, 1:48 am PDT

9

DO-DO-DO-DO-DO-DO-WWRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

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In these last few years, it's been the trend for game designers to include

whoever they damn well please in fighting games, mixing and matching

franchises and hauling out every pirate, ninja, robot, dinosaur, and zombie

that's ever been put in a game, ever. The weird thing is it's almost always

a good idea. This month's lucky winner is Jump Super Stars! For those

unfamiliar with it, Shonen Jump is a digest of Japanese manga series, read

weekly by pretty much everyone in Japan, home to famous series like Naruto,

Dragonball, and many, many more. Now available in crazy tag-team fight game

flavor!

As is the word on the Internet, Jump Super Stars contains about three

hundred million characters. The catch is, though, most are only summon-able

support characters. Still, there are 34 main battle characters. Each manga

series represented has between zero and five battle characters. DBZ and One

Piece get five battle characters each, but poor Prince of Tennis has none! I

hope you like support characters if you're a big fan of Prince of Tennis,

ahahahahah!

Building teams ("decks") of characters is done with a spiffy in-game

interface and ten save slots for teams (and ten more for downloading teams

from other DS systems). With a 5x4 grid page, the player can lay out any

sort of comic page they please with the character panels they have. A basic

help character takes just one square - any character, or even non-character

like a Sensu bean, can be a help character. Support characters take two or

three spaces. They actually show up on screen and launch an attack or give a

huge present or do whatever it is they do in the manga. Now, character

panels sized four-squares and up are the main battle characters that will be

doing the duking-out. Each deck requires at least one of each kind, and

there's no reason not to fill it up to maximum, as each character in it

gives you additional super meter capacity (it starts full, too).

Experimentation helps build really good decks. Depending on the player's own

tastes and abilities, they might opt to squeeze in four battle characters or

just one or two with really good super moves and an army of help characters

to power them. Also hidden away in the game are three special panels with

big, flashy kanji (representing friendship, victory, and effort). Stick

these together between two character panels and they can do a special Super

Tag move. Finding the good ones is an incredible pleasure for the fanboy

type. C'mon, Rasengan Spirit Bomb!

Of all the characters in the game, the player starts with roughly zero

percent of them. They are collected by moving through the single-player mode

(and the extra goals along the way). Characters are discovered in their base

element, single-panel help characters. The support and battle character

panels are earned without characters actually in them - only a silhouette

and voice balloon can be seen. Now, if you know the characters well enough

to match them with their quotes in Japanese, no problem. If not, well, be

prepared to spend up to a couple hours crunching panels looking for matches.

A small fraction of the characters are visible in the game's sample decks

and in screenshots in the manual. Still though, systematically going through

the remainder takes quite a bit of time.

On the subject of deck making, decks can be traded wirelessly with other DS

systems. For playing multiplayer with a single cartridge, decks for all the

players need to be arranged ahead of time, which is a bit of an

inconvenience. Passing around the DS to build teams for everyone cuts into

valuable beating-guys-up time! However, if everyone has a cartridge, they

can sort out their decks on their own and get down to business.

Multiplayer modes are fairly staple free-for-all modes; survival (last guy

standing) and time (most points wins). In the single-player adventure mode,

some other missions show up, like "avoid getting hit," "punt the treasure

chests," and "destroy all the walls/barrels/chances of ever having a

girlfriend by playing weird Japanese games all the time." Single player mode

has a conquest-mode-like map with a series of missions and a few hidden

paths when enough of the game is cleared. Some of the mission objectives are

not particularly obvious, especially early on. Fortunately, caring is

sharing, and

href="http://www.planetgamecube.com/specials.cfm?action=profile&id=570">guides

exist on the Internet, especially on this site!

After unlocking a few characters, taking them for a spin is a real pleasure.

The control in Jump Super Stars is simply awesome. Using the touch screen to

deploy moves is incredible in its dependability and flexibility. Characters

have a pretty good variety of moves, at least on par with Smash Bros., and

they even get new move-sets when they get a bigger panel. Battle character

panels can be four to seven squares in size, and the bigger the panel, the

tougher the character is, generally. This feature is a little bit similar to

Capcom vs SNK 2.

"Dream combos" can be chained by touching any sequence of battle characters

on the screen (starting with the current character, starting an attack chain

instead of switching), and help & support characters and "Super Tag" moves

are deployed in a single touch. During an intense fight, it's probably best

to use both thumbs (depending on how the panels are laid out) and dial a

back-and-forth combination. The pace of dream combo inputs is roughly the

same as Killer Instinct auto-doubles, for those familiar with it. Most

characters do a few hits at a time. With battle character panels at least

four blocks in size, it's tough to mess up dream combos or character

switches. They can be buffered, too, for fast follow-ups and a lot of

potential for advanced combos. The only possible drawback to the controls is

that the screen tends to get a bit dirty from slapping your thumbs on it.

Not a big problem, just wipe it off every now and then.

The characters themselves feature plenty of their signature moves, quotes,

and general style. There are no voiceovers (nor are there in real manga!)

but voice bubbles appear on screen. It's all Japanese, of course, but it's

accurate and still looks really cool. Sprites are fluidly animated, and even

non-symmetrical characters are drawn differently when they face left and

right. Plenty of special animations have been drawn for Super Tag attacks,

too. Nice touches, all around. Many of the various manga series have their

own special battle arenas. Naruto nerds may recognize the two giant statues

and the waterfall. Others are a bit generic, though. Gameplay-wise, the only

differences between arenas are the shape and positions of pits and

platforms.

Here lies the final paragraph where a summary of all prior information is

crunched into advice on a buying decision. It's not an easy leap to spend

like, fifty bucks on a portable game where the only English phrases are the

title of the game and occasionally, "WWRRYYYYYYYYY," but it's worth it for

those who like good fighting games, at least a couple of the featured

franchises, or for those who would like to hold onto their status as king

nerd among the other toiling serf nerds with their pedestrian, domestic

games. It's good enough to be the Smash Bros. of the DS, so if there's a

core group of fight-game buddies around, it's definitely worth getting.

Click here

to order Jump Super Stars from Lik-Sang! Hey, free shipping, too!

(Disclaimer: owning this game is not actually a status symbol.)

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 7 10 9 9 9
Graphics
8

Characters have very stylish and slightly cute sprite animation. There's also plenty of art to look at in the panels, with sometimes famous or defining scenes depicting the characters (if you're fan enough to spot them).

Sound
7

SNES-quality MIDI guitar; it's pretty rad, if you ask me, but not everyone might be inclined to agree. Songs vary from plain to pretty cool, but they often get re-used between stages. Characters don't have any voiceovers or anything (as much as I would have loved to hear "DO-DO-DO-DO-DO-DO-WRRRRRRYYYYYYYYY," if you haven't noticed).

Control
10

Many DS games are called "innovative" or "genius" because you can touch things, I suppose. This, however, is the real deal; using the bottom panel as a flexible, custom button interface to summon, switch, and combo with characters is the best use of the DS touch-screen yet.

Gameplay
9

Although seeking out all the unlockable content is a big pain in the butt, the actual core fighting gameplay is excellent. The gameplay and control really go hand-in-hand with the construction and usage of character decks. There's a lot of flexibility, which is really the core element in good fighting games, right?

Lastability
9

The mission mode isn't too long nor too short, but sticking together panels takes an irritating amount of time. However, good fighting games are fun to play with other people forever.

Final
9

This has all the appeal of a good fighting game, plus the genius implementation of DS hardware. If you like any of the Jump franchises and have ever played a video game where you've punched another guy, ever, you should check out Jump Super Stars.

Summary

Pros
  • Decent and flexible fighting mechanics
  • Lots of lovable characters and crazy team up attacks
  • Sprite animation lives! And it's pretty good, too!
  • Touch screen usage is genius
  • WRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
Cons
  • Actual playable battle characters are a small part of the whole roster
  • A lot of re-used music between stages and no familiar character themes (not that manga have audio, but Naruto and DBZ and many more have been animated...)
  • Matching characters to their panels takes way too long for non-Japanese Jump fans
  • People joining in on single-cartridge multiplayer need decks prepared for them ahead of time
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Fighting
Developer Nintendo

Worldwide Releases

jpn: Jump Super Stars
Release Aug 08, 2005
PublisherNintendo

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