Thursday, September 29, 2005

The greatest DS game you'll never play

Tokyo Game Show has come and gone, but the meories will last forever ... or at least until next year's show. That having been said, I got a nice little care package from Phil Theobald over at GameSpy. It had all sorts of fun little goodies he picked up while in Japan. And in buried amongst the mix of other fun stuff, Phil had managed to find me a copy of the Nintendo DS game Jump Super Stars. And now I'm hooked ...

If you've never heard of Jump Super Stars, it's basically a Super Smash Bros. styled fighting game designed specifically for the DS. Instead of having a bunch of Nintendo characters battling it out though, Nintendo picked up the rights to use the huge library of characters from the popular manga magazine Shonen Jump. This includes characters from Yu-Gi-Oh!, One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, Shaman King, and many other popular manga titles. Players pit their own custom team of characters characters against opposing teams in wild survival of the fittest matches. It successfully combines the most addictive qualities of fighting games and collectible card games. The game even supports Wi-Fi play for 2-4 players off of a single card.

Jump Super Stars is an amazing game ... easily one of, if not THE best game to ever hit Nintendo's dual screened handheld. The controls are easy to pick up, the game has a huge amount of depth, and it's simply a hell of a lot of fun to play. These's just one hitch ... the game will likely never see the light of day stateside. Due to licensing issues for all of the different characters (Atari has the rights to DBZ, Bandai controls One Piece, Konami has Yu-Gi-Oh! ... etc.), there's just no feesible way for Nintendo to get the rights to publish the game over here.

So what does this mean for DS owners anxious to experience the game? Well, you'll have to check with a video game importer or talk to someone in Japan to try and get yourself a copy. The game runs fine on a DS system from the US, but keep in mind that the game IS a Japanese title. This means that all of the menus, instructions, and other text from the game is all in Japanese. And unlike some Japanese games, there is no option to change the language to English. The gameplay is simple enough to overcome any sort of language barrier you come up against in battles, and the only real problem will come in figuring out what the goals are for each of the stages in the Adventure mode. Luckily, there are plenty of resources online that provide English language guides for Jump Super Stars.

If it ends up that Nintendo can't wrangle up some sort of agreement to bring Jump Super Stars to the US, it's definitely a game you might want to think about importing. Also, I'd hope that Nintendo doesn't just abandon the great engine that it developed for Jump Super Stars. There's no reason that the company couldn't take the same mechanics presented here, and incorporate them into a new Super Smash Bros. game for the DS.

I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.

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