Celebrating 50 years of Weekly Shonen Jump manga is certainly an event that merits something fantastic. The magazine has introduced the world to some of the most loved and recognised manga series and animes. Among them we have Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, Hunter X Hunter, Bleach, Dragon Quest, Fist of the North Star, and Death Note (among many others).
When Jump Force was first announced for Xbox One, PS4 and PC with the promise to bring together, for the first time, these series’ major characters, it seemed the stars and planets had aligned. Anime fanatics can finally settle lengthy arguments on who would win in a brawl between Goku (Dragon Ball) and Naruto (Naruto); Luffy (One Piece) and Ichigo Kurasaki (Bleach); even Yugi Moto (Yu-Gi-Oh) and Jotaro Kujo (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)!
At its core, Jump Force is a tag-team fighting game featuring 3v3 battles. As well as fighting in locations from the animes, battles also take place in real world locations such as Himeji Castle, Hong Kong, San Francisco and New York. The game starts in the middle of Times Square with a giant rift opening to reveal Goku and Frieza in an epic battle. It is here that you are introduced to your avatar character, an unfortunate victim of collateral damage who is revived and given powers.
Character customisation is fun, giving you plenty of costumes, hair-styles, facial features and other nods to your favourite anime. The game’s realistic but cartoon artistic style makes this an interesting endeavour, if nothing else. Your fighting style and abilities are based on other Jump Force characters, which you can further customise by unlocking movesets and specials as you progress through the game. All-in-all, character creation and progression smacks largely on Bandai Namco’s previous Dragon Ball Xenoverse games.
So, what about the game itself? At first yes, the game delivers well with lots of flashy animations and fun combat. Keeping true to previous Bandai Namco brawlers, combat is based on a mix of light and heavy attacks that sees your opponent getting knocked about the arena. A simple tap will bring your teammates in to assist, which aids the fast-paced action, which makes you feel like you are in a horse race.
Every character comes with four special moves that can be easily dispatched by holding the right trigger and pressing one of the face buttons. It is hugely satisfying to be able to execute a Rasengan as Naruto or summon Slifer the Sky Dragon from Yu-Gi-Oh. Character transformations also take place, after all we all want to go Super Saiyan don’t we?!
Getting that first hit in, stringing together a heavy-hitting combo replete with assists, and ending it all an ultimate attack should be the true drive in Jump Force’s combat. Unfortunately, though this is not the case. Once you are past the initial “wow factor” of playing from a great roster of anime heroes, and villains, combat is actually quite lazy. The computer AI is not good, even on the hardest setting, and once you have mastered a few advanced techniques like side-steps, blocks and counters, it all becomes a bit repetitive and stale. It doesn’t matter who you play as or against since the same basic principles remain, giving Jump Force very little depth.
Of course, you can take the game online, or play locally against other players, which brings a whole new element of difficulty and challenge.
The storyline does not lend itself well to saving Jump Force from its dull pattern. The tutorial and opening stages are long, boring and driven by some incredibly poor cutscenes. Characters barely speak. In fact, characters barely do anything – making everything seem rather lifeless all-in-all. It is a true shame, considering the medium that these characters have come from.
There could have been some excellent moments of interaction, but it feels like the Jump Force team have missed a real trick with this.
If you are looking for a quick thrill filled with some of your anime heroes, Jump Force is most likely the title for you. However, if you are looking for a lasting fighting game to challenge and entertain…well this game simply falls short. Before you make the final decision, take a look at the full roster (at the time of this article) of playable characters, in alphabetical order:
- Aizen Sosuke (Bleach)
- Asta (Black Clover)
- Boa Hancock (One Piece)
- Boruto Uzumaki (Naruto)
- Cell (DBZ)
- Dai (Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai)
- Deku (My Hero Academia)
- DIO (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Dragon Shiryu (Saint Seiya)
- Frieza (DBZ)
- Future Trunks (DBZ)
- Gaara (Naruto)
- Goku (DBZ)
- Gon Freecss (Hunter x Hunter)
- Hisoka Morroh (Hunter x Hunter)
- Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach)
- Jotaro (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
- Kaguya ?tsutsuki (Naruto)
- Kakashi Hatake (Naruto)
- Kenshin Himura (Rurouni Kenshin)
- Kenshiro (Fist of the North Star)
- Killua Zoldyck (Hunter x Hunter)
- Kurapika (Hunter x Hunter)
- Makoto Shishio (Rurouni Kenshin)
- Marshall D. Teach aka Blackbeard (One Piece)
- Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)
- Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)
- Pegasus Seiya (Saint Seiya)
- Piccolo (DBZ)
- Renji Abarai (Bleach)
- Rukia Kuchiki (Bleach)
- Ryo (City Hunter)
- Sabo (One Piece)
- Sanji Vinsmoke (One Piece)
- Sasuke Uchiha (Naruto)
- Toguro (Yu Yu Hakusho)
- Vegeta (DBZ)
- Yugi Muto (Yu-Gi-Oh)
- Yuske Urameshi (Yu Yu Hakusho)
- Zoro (One Piece)