There are a few things you kind of expect when you play a anime based game from Bandai Namco – bizarre humour and breasts. J-Stars gives you both.
and move freely around the map. Your characters can jump on buildings, and smash scenery to pieces with punches. Or by throwing your opponent into them, which is always fun. Interestingly, battles aren't one-on-one all the time, either – you control one character, and the CPU can control a couple of support characters to aid you.
Fighting various other characters can encourage them to join your fighting roster, enhancing your team and your choices for battle, whereas some just seem to want to fight you for the hell of it. The system itself isn't as convoluted as a lot of fighters – there's no six button-press combos to remember or anything here, it's all quite basic, and easy enough to get to grips with (although I did find the J-Adventure mode considerably easier than the others). However, this is a double-edged sword, because after a while the fighting can get a bit samey and repetitive with limited numbers of moves to pull off.
Other modes included are 'Victory Road' – a mode where you create a team from the list of available characters and fight groups of set opponents. Arcade mode, which is of course a standard six battle long game in which you just fight to get as far as you can. Free Battle, where you can custom create matches by selecting what characters will take part and the stage that will be used; and of course an online mode (which I didn't get chance to try out, playing pre-release).
Also on the Main Menu is the shop, where you can use J-Points earned in battle to purchase new characters (both main and support), items for use in Adventure mode, and Cards to enhance your deck, which can power up your team. This seems a nice feature, though not overly well explained to begin with, so can be difficult to get one's head around.
Graphically, J-Stars isn't going to win any awards. It does a good job of representing the art styles of anime and the character designs are decent, though, and it's brightly coloured visuals are pleasant to look at. The narrative is subbed with small excerpts in Japanese, which ties in nicely with the anime theme and sounds better than English dubbed voices.
Generally speaking, J-Stars is a game that can be fun to play (though I imagine it would, as with most fighters, be more fun to play with friends) but it just feels a little lacking in terms of longevity. You don't need to be a hardcore fan of either anime or the fighting genre to play it, which is of course, a great thing; and if all else fails, there's a whole lotta cleavage for you to look at.
Score – 7/10