- Game: Jump Force
- Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developer: Spike Chunsoft
A Jump Force review code was provided by the publisher.
Dream match scenarios are the lifeblood of every fandom. Fans of any and every form of entertainment seem to have the most fun when coming up with “what if?” encounters between popular characters from different franchises. Gaming has afforded those fans the chance to act out those fantasy matchups – most of those interactive dream scenarios have come to fruition via fighting games. That very same concept makes up the entirety of what Jump Force prides itself on. By collecting the most famous manga/anime heroes that have adorned the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump, Jump Force gives everyone the chance to see which heroes and villains reign supreme. Its execution leaves a lot to be desired in some key areas, but the over-the-top gameplay still makes it a worthy attraction.
Jump Force goes for a fan-fiction plotline that sees your created character fight the good fight alongside other notable manga/anime icons. The real world and the many worlds that exist within each Shōnen Jump franchise converge, which gives way to an invasion by some sinister forces. The storytelling is pretty simple and lacks any big-time moments that give you a reason to care beyond seeing each character interact with one other for the very first time. There are a few humorous dialogue sequences dispersed throughout the main campaign (for instance, Vegeta’s verbal lambasting of Deku is the right type of fan service you’ve come to expect from a game like this one). It’s just a shame that the actual cinematic animations are an eyesore – watching stilted versions of the cast awkwardly move during each scene is hilariously bad.
The realistic art style given to the entire cast succeeds and fails in some areas. Some characters, such as the two faces that represent JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and the blade wielders from Bleach, look fine. But the more expressive, big-eyed characters (Gon and Deku, for example) look a bit odd as their real-world selves. Thankfully, the stages all look great. Getting to see certain elements from each anime get mixed in with historic real-world locations is a definite plus in the visual prowess column for Jump Force. Another plus comes from the eye-popping spectacles that erupt during big moves and character transformations. All in all, a few parts of this fighter look off in comparison to the elements that don’t look quite as bad.
Bandai Namco’s fighting games have adopted an online lobby system lately and that trend continues here. Jump Force’s avatar filled lobby lacks the cool distinct elements that games such as Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Dragon Ball FighterZ adopts, however. Even though there’s a ton of unique player-created avatars moving all over the hub world, its overall appearance makes it feel a bit lifeless and altogether bland. Much of the popular cast members aren’t on hand to interact with you, which takes away the theme park feel that could have made the lobby system far more interesting. At least the lobby tune is pretty catchy.
Jump Force’s 3v3 gameplay feels like a mix between the mechanics featured in the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series and the Dragon Ball Xenoverse titles. Each fight erupts into a fun bout of chaos as you pull off big combos, special moves, vanishing attacks, grabs, charged strikes, team assists and more. What seems shallow at force gradually turns into a semi-deep battle system.
You’ll quickly wrap your head around high/low combos, the best time to link your special attacks to combos, when it’s appropriate to tag in another character, how to successfully land a finishing blow, etc. The huge roster provides players with a nice variety of fun three-person combinations to experiment with. The AI is no pushover, so you’ll come to enjoy the challenge associated with the main campaign and various side missions given to you. The incredibly fun battles against human players maintain their high fun factor as you make your way through the varied options presented to you within the roster.
Jump Force Takeaways
Jump Force certainly has its issues. The off-putting visual representation of some of the cast members, cheap-looking animations during cinematic sequences, and bland lobby appearance are among those problems. But there’s a fun fighter buried underneath all those negatives that you’ll come to appreciate. The massive roster (which is still growing), amazingly chaotic battles and somewhat deep battle system provides plenty of reason for players to act out their best dream match scenarios. Jump Force may not be a manga/anime fan’s dream game, but it comes close enough to fulfilling that wish.