What You Need to Know ...
Aside from creating a few One Piece video games, Japanese game developer Ganbarion actually hasn't been a very notable company. But all that changed in August 2005 when they released a Nintendo DS game, published by Nintendo itself, by the name of Jump Super Stars. It didn't take long before Jump Super Stars' notoriety has caught steam, where it has become one of the most popular import games in years with its fun gameplay and massive Shonen Jump fan service. It was such a success that Ganbarion went and created a far superior sequel in November 2006 by the name of Jump Ultimate Stars
Why You Should Care About It
Bo-bo-bohaving an advantage on Goku because a laughter type beats the power type. But what made the Jump Stars special was what they did with that bottom touch screen. Because it uses the manga from Weekly Shonen Jump, Ganbarion came up with a brilliant plan where you create your own manga page on the bottom with a noteworthy manga panel that you summon by touch, called "koma," depending on how much space you fill. The characters you fight with take up from 4 to 8 blocks that increase in power with each block, the support attacks that take up 2 to 3 blocks are useful if you want to attack without any close combat, and the 1-block koma that add some helpful perks. It's brilliant because the gameplay advantages you can have are endless. You can make a deck with many 4-block characters, have 2 8-block characters with some extra attack koma, or have one character with all sorts of perks and special attacks. I recommend you just get Jump Ultimate Stars instead of Super Stars since it has far more Shonen Jump characters and has a far improved fighting engine with more fluid controls.
Luffy and Naruto with some Death Note support attacks? Do I also want a deck of my favorite "wise" characters like Nico Robin and Allen Walker? Or do I just want to create the ultimate ironic deck with Super Saiyan Goku with the Super Saiyan-parody version of Don Patch? Really, the real winners who play Jump Ultimate Stars are the people who love the franchises. You can have your Luffy vs. Naruto fight in as many different scenarios as you want, and can have some of your favorite sports manga like Slam Dunk and Eyeshield 21 join in with the form of 2-3 koma support attacks. Simply put, you won't find a greater source of non-nudity fan service for Shonen Jump than in Jump Ultimate Stars. And if you aren't so much of a fan, you still get a genius Smash Bros. substitute that uses the DS hardware in the most creative way.
Any Faults With It?
If there's one fault I can actually come up with for the game, it is the fact that Ganbarion probably added in too many new Shonen Jump properties in Ultimate Stars. It has all my favorites from Reborn! to Black Cat to Gin Tama, but there are some unnecessary extras here. Is there any person who goes to Anime Vice who actually wants a game with Ninku or Jungle King Ta-chan? There could be even more Naruto or Bleach characters if Ganbarion kept the number of series in check. But otherwise this is a brilliant game that I'd easily give at least a 9.5 out 10 score if I had an opportunity give one at that other site I write reviews for.
Where Can You Buy It? (and is the import barrier too much?)
can import on such fantastic sites like Play-Asia. The menus (and more importantly, the mission tasks in the campaign mode) are all in Japanese, but you can find all sorts of helpful guides on the internet. I bought the game just a few weeks after it was first released in late 2006, and there were already a few good FAQ online. There has also been a fan-made English patch for the game if you're willing to go to that level, but otherwise this is a game where you won't have too much trouble making your own decks in no time thanks to all the internet support.
this little gem floating around on Play-Asia that got me curious. One Piece: Gigant Battle, another title developed by Ganbarion looks to be based on their famous Jump Stars engine and if it all comes together, the undeniably greatest One Piece game ever made will be released this September.
Before I close out on talking about the brilliance that is Jump Ultimate Stars, here is an awesome fan-made compilation video that shows the game in motion: