Review – Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions
It was told to me once that the act of moving can be one of the most earth shattering for a child when not handled correctly. An adult may work out factors about schools, hospitals, available facilities and even more accessible family members, but they can never fully grasp the depth to which a child identifies with their surroundings. Even if that child is quite young and hasn’t totally developed friendship bonds, there is a sense of permanence that becomes upended and reset in the move.
My children have experienced it a bit themselves, and I’m eternally grateful that good communication and even better timing (moving before they entered the school system) allowed for there to be few issues. But that was just moving to another state. Moving to another country, where the customs, language and time zone are wildly different? That’s a beast I would never want to face, let alone live through myself.
Yet, just as the human mind is incredibly fragile, it’s also heavily resilient, and the coping mechanisms we create to make sense of the world can protect us from the changes that come hurtling at impossible speeds. Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions is the story of young Damien, a French boy with some Japanese relatives who suddenly finds that he has to move to the other side of the world to take over his grandfather’s estate. As much as he loves his roots and can speak the language, the act of needing to change so much at once leaves him grasping at something to hold onto.
Enter his alter ego, Captain Velvet Meteor, whose own story involves his spaceship crashing on a foreign soil and now needs to find answers and safety as a stranger on a strange planet. Aided by Jay-P, a talking robotic overseer from his spaceship, and by unlikely allies and friends he meets along the way, Captain Velvet Meteor becomes the conduit through which Damien experiences his new world, coming to grips both with how the world is different for him, but also the how and why he feels what he does, and why it’s all going to be alright.
From a purely gameplay standpoint, Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions is an isometric, tactical adventure game with puzzle solving, stealth elements and a collectible undertone. Each stage puts Damien/Captain Velvet Meteor in a field where an objective is laid out (defeat all enemies/reach the exit/find the MacGuffin) and then go from there. Damien and his partner take turns planning movement around the board and executing the plans, sometimes in tandem, sometimes alone. Separating the two means covering more ground and ferreting out additional objects/enemies, working together usually means triggering duo attacks that can land more damage or at least hit more targets. If you’ve played literally any of the Disgaea/Final Fantasy Tactics/Mercenaries series, you have a good idea of what you need to do here, but it’s much, much simpler than any of those.
To put things bluntly, Captain Velvet Meteor is one of the most easy-going and forgiving tactical combat games I’ve ever played. There are many enemies who don’t even need to be engaged in order to be defeated; simply walking over them counts as a defeat. Additionally, defeating enemies immediately begins filling back up your health meter, so even massive damage can be easily negated by knocking out two or three mobs. Even more than that, defeated enemies (and some landscape aspects) will drop shiny yellow orbs, and collecting three of these allows you to execute a massive attack with your teammate, and there’s no apparent limit to how many times this can happen in one fight.
More than a few times, I got the orbs, teamed up to do a devastating attack that destroyed everything in front of me for a full screen, four panel radius, and the resulting attack dropped three more orbs, and also granted enough “bonus movements” to get you to the orbs and set up the next devastation. It was borderline silly.
Yet, in spite of what could be a very simplistic and boring approach, I appreciated the straightforward nature of the combat. While I won’t pretend everything was easy, I have felt that certain aspects of tactical combat have gotten overly complicated (staring directly at you, Disgaea 6) and it became daunting to figure out every element.
But when all I need to worry about is moving, aiming and shooting with a couple variables mixed in, it makes the additional elements of the game present better. Like when I found artwork or soundtrack tracks hidden in destructible environment, it was a happy accident and not a harrowing moment of “okay, I think there’s something over there, but if I sacrifice even one turn I’ll get murdered by the mobs.” Or when I did fail in a larger fight (some of the stages in Beach on a Loop were heavy), it wasn’t such a big deal to need to do it again. Plus, not needing to hang my hat on gameplay that consumed my brain let me appreciate the aspects of storytelling alive in the game.
For example, Shueisha Games, the publisher, did a magnificent job of bringing in a ton of additional IPs to help support Damien in his imagination aspirations. Every partner that joins you in your fight is a direct homage to characters from other manga and animations, and I am blown away by the incorporation of it al. While the massive Spy X Family poster will be the most noticeable for many (and a character from that manga appearing later in the game), the existence of characters from Kaiju No. 8, Summer Time Render and more is fascinating.
The full gamut of the Shonen Jump+ catalog was really well utilized. Moreover, they’re organic in the whole creation of them all. You don’t need to go down to a hobby shop and get them from a gacha or something. It’s just what Damien has in his head, so if a Slime from Slime Life Story wants to help you out, why the heck not? It’s the same as my imagination of Donatello and one of the Biker Mice from Mars helping me fight werewolves when I was eight.
Additionally, Damien is a likable character and an understandable protagonist without being too heavy handed. Moving from Europe to Japan could have been a massive storyline that dealt with racism and horrific displacement, but, instead, Damien and Captain Velvet are just adjusting to things that they can and should know already. Their dog is lonely and unsure of this place, just like Damien is. The neighbor is friendly and wants to connect with you because your grandfather talked about you a lot, and she wants to help in some way.
These are all minor things that are stretched out and glossed over by filling in the moments with stage after stage of tactical combat that’s fun and engaging without asking too much. At the end, Damien finds his tools inside himself and can move forward. It’s refreshing to have a lead who isn’t an emotional basketcase, even though he would be well within his rights.
The cartoony graphics make the fanciful aspects of Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions work, both in the imagination and in the support of the manga IPs, and I appreciated the soundtrack, even if it was a tad forgettable. Moreover, I had a good time with this particular adventure. It reminded me that the enormity of imagination is a feat and a power that is universal, and it helped make what could have been a very short visual novel or a very sad adventure game be neither. Instead, it was fun, it was bouncy, it kept me going and it was divided into good sized chapters to keep from being bloated. Replay is a possibility for more unlocks, and players will want to go back and recheck for things they missed. Damien has a great future ahead of him. Welcome to Japan, kid.
Fine on handheld, Captain Velvet does show some roughness on the bigscreen that can be slightly offputting.
Though more detailed enthusiasts will be put off by the simplicity, the straightforward tactical combat was the perfect vehicle for this delivery.
Great sound effects for attacks and triggers, but very, very forgettable ambient music otherwise.
The joy of seeing the various manga characters combined with Damien not being a putz made me keep going, and that’s saying a lot.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions was provided by the publisher.