Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions Review

Four things I like about this game, and one I don't

Captain Velvet Meteor

By Paul Hunter

There's nothing like a good Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase. The big N has perfected the format and usually delivers several exciting third-party game reveals. That was certainly true at the June 28 Mini Partner Showcase where Shueisha Games announced Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions, a new tactical adventure game in partnership with Japan's massively popular Shonen Jump+ online magazine for manga.

I was immediately intrigued by Captain Velvet Meteor because of its gorgeous hand-drawn manga style visuals and tactical gameplay, a favourite genre of mine. Naturally I jumped at the chance to review this exciting new title and play through its roughly 10-hour campaign. So let's pack our bags and get this space voyage underway, here are four things I liked about the game...and one I didn't.

Liked: Touching Story

Captain Velvet Meteor tells a heartwarming tale that will especially resonate with anyone who's had a tough time managing big life changes. It all begins with a young boy named Damien who's born into a dual-national French-Japanese family. After spending 10 years in Lyon, France, his world shatters after his grandfather passes away and the family moves to Kyoto, Japan, to be with their grandmother. Forced to leave his friends, school and neighbourhood behind, Damien has to start a new life in a new country.

As it turns out, Damien knows very little about Japan aside from what he's read in his manga magazines. Lonely and with his worries growing, one day his parents leave for a few hours and give him a list of everyday chores, like checking the mailbox outside and taking care of the laundry. Being in a new home in an unfamiliar setting, Damien's anxieties start getting the better of him so he calls upon his superhero persona, Captain Velvet Meteor, to face his fears. Using the power of imagination, he escapes into a world filled with his favourite Jump+ heroes and villains.

I really enjoyed this touching story of a young boy using his imagination to overcome the everyday fears he's facing. And while the game is very text heavy, it was never boring given how funny and uplifting the dialogue is. Also helping to keep the story fresh is how in each of the eight main chapters, Damien meets a new hero (with their own quirky personality) from the legendary Jump+ manga. Most of these heroes are funny in their own way, such as Slime (from Slime Life) who naively and persistently wants to befriend a dragon set on destroying them, or Princess (from 'Tis Time for "Torture,") who secretly agrees to aid Damien in battle so he'll share his yummy snacks with her. You'll end up going on a mini campaign with each Jump+ hero and each one is memorable because of all the funny convos and situations they get themselves into.

Liked: Highly Accessible Gameplay

Tactical games are notorious for their gameplay complexity and difficulty, but Captain Velvet Meteor completely breaks the mould with pick-up-and-play action and a light challenge. Some hardcore tactics fans may be put off by that, but it's ideal for anyone looking for a fun, stress-free experience and it's particularly good for younger gamers—an obvious target audience given the game's protagonist.

Every campaign chapter has several missions, which ultimately come down to two types: defeat all the enemies or make it to the exit in 10 turns before a bomb explodes. I wish there was more objective variety as that certainly would have helped keep the action refresher. But the good news is the combat is so easy to get into and has a good rhythm that kept me engaged until the credits rolled.

Looking specifically at the combat, each of the eight main missions pairs you up with a different Jump+ hero, so you always have a two-person team. Your allies range from ChloƩ Love the Ghost Reaper Girl, Kafka Hibino a.k.a. Kaiju No. 8 and Chrome, the combat android from Heart Gear.

Damien and the heroes can perform regular attacks that target a single enemy, usually killing them in one hit, and each kill replenishes health. In a neat twist, both of your characters share a single health bar so it's crucial to not allow either one of them to get swarmed by the monster hordes you face.

Each Jump+ hero has their own special attack and they vary significantly—some have area of effect abilities, others will attack in a straight line ahead while others still can slice through multiple enemies at once. Because of the unique signature attacks, every campaign chapter requires you to rethink strategies to take advantage of your current hero's ability. I have mixed thoughts on being forced to use specific characters. The downside is if you've got a favourite character you can't choose when to use them, or if you dislike your current character you're stuck with them for the rest of the chapter. On the positive side though, every hero gets their own distinct mini campaign and story, and it is fun learning the ins and outs of each hero in battle.

The battle arenas are grid-based with your characters able to move up to four spaces per turn. What's interesting is you can also acquire and bank up to 10 extra movements points than you can then divvy up between your two characters. These additional movements are incredibly handy during clutch moments like rushing in to take out a particularly troublesome enemy, making a desperate escape if your health gets critical or a last-minute dash to the exit to avoid a bomb explosion.

While the overall challenge is light, I only died a handful of times over the campaign, there are quite a few new gameplay elements that I've never seen before in a tactical adventure. And that alone kept the action interesting. When you mix in the intriguing heroes and humourous dialogue, Captain Velvet Meteor becomes a treat to play through.

Liked: Attack to Heal

One gameplay element that I thoroughly enjoyed is how killing enemies heals your team. And that is the only way to heal.

This mechanic ratchets up the strategy quite a bit as you need to strategically balance attacks, withdraws and movement progression. When your health is critically low you may need to rush right into the heart of danger in order to unleash a power area attack to decimate multiple enemies to heal back up to full. But you also have to consider which enemies will remain and how much potential damage they'll do. Other times you may want to make strategic retreats to isolate enemies and one by one kill them to recover a smidgen of health and limit the number of counterattacks.

It's quite common for your health to yo-yo up and down during heated battles, and in many cases I'd repeatedly be near death, get near-fully healed but then get demolished again on the next enemy phase. Managing your health is certainly exciting it's where most of the battle pressure comes from. Calculating how much you'll heal by killing specific enemies vs. how much subsequent damage you'll receive on the enemy phase is crucial for success in Captain Velvet Meteor.

As a little aside, shoutout to whoever decided to include enemies you walk on to kill them. It's pretty hilarious: the most common enemy are these little black critters you can squish by walking over them—and they heal you a decent amount. These tiny nuisances are the perfect target when your health is low, you can trample over a whole group of them and you're still able to attack afterwards. Great!

Liked: Gorgeous Visuals

If you like a beautiful mix of 2D and 3D hand-drawn graphics, Captain Velvet Meteor will be a treat to play through. The story is narrated with cute drawings Damien did in his personal journal that have a perfect 'kids' feel to them. Then there's the many manga artworks that showcase all the Jump+ partner characters. There are also several scenes using manga art panel style to illustrate important moments within the story.

The battlefields also look wonderful with their soft cartoony feel. And there's a good variety of biomes to soak in, from metallic alien dungeons to lush green outdoors to rocky molten lava areas. I also really enjoyed the visual effects of your attacks, especially the partner abilities and devastating area of effect ultra attacks. The explosions look flashy and deadly, exactly what you'd want from a game inspired by manga.

Bosses are another huge highlight as they can take up a quarter of the screen or more and contain lots of exquisite detail. You'll face off against a fire-breathing dragon, a gigantic evil washing machine and a Japanese lunch dish monster with tentacles. The bosses are creative and each has their own trick to beating them, which you'll have to discover.

Didn't Like: No Difficulty Settings

Captain Velvet Meteor is so easy to get into and that's great, especially for younger audiences. I certainly enjoyed playing through the campaign but I will say that towards the end I did really start wishing I could flick on more challenging mode. The inability to tailor the difficulty to your liking is a missed opportunity.

The good news is between campaign missions you'll head back to Damien's home in Japan for some light exploration, including locating stickers to complete a Bingo card. By completing a Bingo line you can unlock a more difficult version of the boss fights. It's really cool to see, but it would be so much better if you could replay the entire mission on this higher difficulty.

Having multiple difficulty settings would also help with replayability—as it stands now there's not much reason to replay after beating the game aside from re-experiencing the same adventure. Hopefully the developers add a New Game+ or higher difficulties down the road.

The Verdict

Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions is a fun and innovative tactical adventure that introduces some cool mechanics to the genre. Any fan of Jump+ manga will love this game, as will younger players or seasoned veterans looking to flex their tactical skills in low-pressure combat missions. The story is wonderfully written and the manga style visuals are appealing, two other big highlights. I do wish it had difficulty settings though as that would turned this good experience into a fantastic one.

Final Score: 7.5/10 - Good

Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions details

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Momo-Pi Game Studio
Publisher: Shueisha Games
Genre: Tactical Adventure
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

A key was provided by the publisher.