Random Ramblings Vol.15 : J-Stars Victory VS (The Dissonance Between Publishers And Developers)

J-Stars Victory VS is coming to the west as a + version suppossedly…even though nothing seems to have changed. Not even the FPS are raised to 60 as rumoured. But that’s not the main problem with the game.

Face-off

Instead of picking the game apart and raging without being productive, I’ll offer a different alternative. A very different route the development and production that this game could have taken from the very start. Some context is needed of course :

A little background info and a frame concerning the situation of arcades in 2008

Spike-Chunsoft is a company formed from the merging of Spike and Chunsoft, Spike being famous for the DBZ Tenkaichi games at that point in time.

Banpresto is a developer mainly known for anime / manga / tokusatsu games and making and publishing(until 2007) the Super Robot Taisen games. Also made the Gundam Vs Gundam game in 2008 due to Capcom having problems that year…reportedly. The Gundam Vs Gundam game was developed by using and remaking the assets of the latest Gundam VS game at the time.

ByKing is a developer made of former Capcom employees that made the Custom Robo, Power Stone and Gundam VS games, to that point their last game was Gundam Seed Destiny : Rengou Vs Z.A.F.T. II :

before some problems rose with Capcom that would lead to their departure from the company in 2010 but not before making Gundam Vs Gundam NEXT.

2008 as a year is important for two reasons : 1.)Crossover madness taking over in Japan with a lot of success in sales that continued almost until 2011. The portable gaming market was also at a very good point, especially compared to today’s mobile market. The crossover madness just showed how big it was given much Gundam Vs Gundam and Dissidia sold in Japan that year, especialy when they both came at the end of the year, showing how big the install base for the PSP is and how bigger the fanbases of these were as almost all of the PSP+game bundles for both run out of production in less than a year.

GvG PSP Bundle
Dissidia PSP bundle

2.)It was the year that the Weekly Jump magazine had its 40th anniversary in its homeland. The previous games for Jump magazine were two Nintendo published games made by Ganbarion, (Jump Superstars and Jump Ultimate Stars). The iron was as hot as it would get to strike.

The main point of the post

So, with Bandai Namco having the rights to most of the anime produced from the Jump magazines would be the greatest thing to happen if they could put it to good use all those years. So while Banpresto is busy with Gundam Vs Gundam, it would have been wise to have ByKing(then still Capcom) divide their time between giving tips to Banpresto and helping them when they can and developing a J-Stars Victory VS game for the arcades, from 2007 just so it could be out in 2008 to coincide with Jump’s 40 year anniversary.

The arcade game that should be made would be similar to what we have now :


Except much more fine-tuned and with a handful of improvements on the base formula. The game should be speedy, with all characters being agile and without too much cooldown and invisibility frames. Also 60FPS like almost all fighting games, wether 1v1 or 2v2, helps immensely, makes the combat better and combos much more fun to pull off, not to mention satisfying because the player isn’t hampered by needless hardware limitations that shouldn’t exist in the first place. The combo system shouldn’t change much, the light combos should not send the opponent flying though, at least not halfway through the game but downing him is always a must, even the most basic GvG combo strings do that and the long-range special attack should never fire automatically at the end of a light combo if the player has enough energy. The light to heavy combo strings should be modified to be different, same goes for heavy to loight combo strings and each character should have different lenghts of combo inputs to have greater control. Having to press square three times and having Kenshiro execute hundred kicks and punches in mild speed is quite aggravating while doing the same with Son Goku for example leads to a simple three strike combo. Again, Gundam Vs Gundam and its installments provide great examples of that :

There also needs to be a seperation between characters that can fly and those who cannot, those who fly being able to move like Gundam while those that are grounded having better jump control, more flexible maneuvrability and ways to bring those who can fly down to the ground in effective ways. The targetting system should change as well. Instead of free camera and all that, the targetting should be constant and unlock Gundam’s, it should just be shown by having the health and energy gauges appear as a speech bubble above the target to indicate who the player is targetting.

Finally, the Victory Burst should act more like Awakening but for the team, instead of a massive win button. It should make the characters have raised status and perhaps change forms at times to reflect that when possible(it’s away to put Super Saiyan 2 for the Dragon Ball cast or making Yusuke go into his Demon Form, Seiya get his God Cloth etc) with each character having 1 Ultimate to fire at the opponents for each Victory Burst. The Victory Burst should have two modes : the current one, where it works with the balance of battle or in the form of awakening gauges like the Gundam Vs games. And that is for the basics of the arcade game. It coming out during July of 2008 would be great to match the anniversary month at least, if not going the extra mile Dissidia went and releasing it the same day as well, July 2nd.

One thing to be kept in mind is that even with all these changes, it still doesn’t play like Gundam Vs, these two are still as different as Street Fighter and Guilty Gear are. On one hand it makes veteran dogfighters from the Gundam games look at the game with a renewed interest in a similar system, while other gamers that wanted to try out a system like Gundam Vs’ but didn’t like the idea of giant robots could now find solace in J-Stars. It would be win-win for everyone and maybe the two fanbases could spread and mingle and make the games reach new heights and bring new insights to their gameplay development.

The porting and the future of the game

Now, moving to the porting phase, it could be the same year and follow Banpresto’s example of just porting the game into the portable consoles(PlayStation Portable during that year) by rebalancing the port and then putting that balance patch on the arcade machines as well. The big difference between GvG and J-Stars should be that ByKing should either not make those four characters for the PSP port of GvG and just help with the porting, while focusing fully in incorporating the Victory Road and J-Adventure modes that the current J-Stars game has, with the cards system and all that good stuff. Finally, the controls could be much less complicated and very easy to program now that things have been simplified and ironed out. And the controls can be fully customizable, like the Gundam games.

PSP controls

D-Pad : Movement
Analog Up / Down : Change CPU commands
Analog Left / Right : Change targets
X button : Jump / Double Jump(flying characters only)
O button : Special Attack
Square button : Light combo
Triangle button : Heavy combo
R trigger : Dashing / flying dash(flying characters only)
L trigger : Guard
Start button : Pause the game
Select button : Use assist
D-Pad + O : Special attack 2
L + D-Pad : dodging
L + X : Charge energy
L + O : Special Attack 3
L + Square : Launch attack / Launch combo
L + Triangle : Guard Break
Square during a dash : dash attack
X + O + Square + Triangle : Victory Burst confirmation
X + O + Square + Triangle (Victory Burst) : Ultimate Attack

And now, comes the future of the game. In the unlikely event, the game tanked that year(which is very unlikely considering how big those crossovers were in 2008 and considering how big the install base of the PSP was as I mentioned, not forgetting it plays slightly similar to Gundam Vs Gundam and ot exactly like it) it could end there. An anniversary game that didn’t garner the success Bandai Namco wanted and they could try again in a few years etc. It would be pretty good. In the event it would succeed(almost guaranteed) things could pan out very differently for Banpresto, ByKing and even Bandai Namco’s arcade machines.

Let’s assume that history doesn’t change much in that, Banpresto gives the reigns back to ByKing after sitting down with them, brainstorming with them for a new system to implement(the NEXT Dash system for GvG NEXT) and then just handling the publishing job for the arcades, they could do this : they could be given control of the J-Stars series now and with Banpresto’s know-how of making crossovers cool, they could make it reach new heights by simply following feedback from players, adding new characters and constructing them to fit the crossover, with large amounts of fanservice to those who read the Jump manga and using the assets of the game, making it better and gradually learning even more about those types of fighting games(it would also help them with Super Robot Taisen OG Infinite Battle years later).

At this point, the J-Stars would become a series akin to Gundam Vs and they could become another great arcade sensation, not unlike Gundam Vs and since it would come out in 2008, it would stay a sensation since that’s about the last year of hardcore fans entering the arcades. It would span to become like Gundam Extreme VS later on, being ported to new improved hardware and even be on the PS3 like the current J-Stars is, except now it would have a lot more characters, more depth, better combat and far more awesome interactions for the crossovers. And unlike Gundam, which Bandai Namco strangely thinks is a waste of time for the western audiences, this showed that a market exists and they are willing to port it.

Despite all those dreams and hopes, even plans to make things better, it all boiled down to Bandai Namco being incopetent and greedy for quick cash once again. Not taking a slight risk that would make another moneymaking series for them and a great fighting game for us. It’s all such a shame and a big heap of wasted potential. That’s the saddest part. Once Bandai Namco gets their hands on anything these days, aside from the games ByKing makes, everything else is wasted potential. And it is a great shame. It’s no wonder Banpresto is fed up with them.

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