In this massive Shonen Jump manga and anime crossover, “Jump Force” takes the fighting out of their respectful animes and mangas and throws it into its own game. It’s a three-on-three arena-style fighting game from Bandai Namco featuring 40 playable characters from the “Shonen Jump” manga. The game features realistic locations from both our world and those of different mangas and animes. Some of these features could even influence changes in future games in the genre, though the game overall feels like an overly drawn-out tribute to a typical anime. The cutscenes, the dialogue, the story campaign, loading times and the repetitive fights are all interminable.
“Jump Force” isn’t for your typical button masher as combo moves and supers will drain your life quickly without much give. This design can make the multiplayer feature of the game entry-level barring. The confusing progression of the game can also discourage a player or eventually lead to buyer’s remorse. Those who are willing to play have to grind away after getting the move set down because every character plays the same and there is an immense lack of variety. NPCs’ (non-player characters) A.I. can be slow and dense. When you’re continuously playing against them in order to “get good” so you’re not creamed when playing online or playing the story campaign, it becomes monotonous.
Fighting games of a similar nature have existed in Japan since the NES days, and “Jump Force” has been both questioned and anticipated since it was teased at E3 in 2018. The new and interesting aspect of the game is that the three-player team shares the same health bar, compared to the typical design of teams beating each opponent until their individual health bars have been depleted. This new design means that once one of the characters on a team gets knocked out, it’s game over. Powering up one character during a fight also carries over to your other characters within the team, so switching between seven characters doesn’t interrupt power-ups. Lastly, the damage clearly seen on any one character during and after the battle such as scratches and torn clothing is on all characters.
The cutscenes, while on par with today’s graphics, are also brutal as they can be long-winded, repetitive and barely skippable. While the characters’ dialogue and moves reflect their respective anime, seeing them in 3D is a bit eerie since their facial features don’t carry well realistically and their expressions don’t change. What’s astounding is that the game uses the original Japanese voice actors.
The game comes off as if it was thrown together after spending too much time working on the visuals. They don’t give a good reason for why everyone’s fighting, let alone why all the characters’ “worlds” were thrown together. The campaign can be difficult to figure out. You try to go to your next mission, but you have to do random side quests like an RPG (role-playing game), unlike your usual fighting game story that has you fight each battle between cutscenes used to progress the storyline. Also, the central hub-type world that ties all the anime and manga worlds with yours can come off as a glorified menu similar to that of “Kingdom Hearts.” You have to traverse around an atrium going from place to place in order to do anything.
Overall, “Jump Force” is an explosive and exciting arcade style game. The visuals are smooth, bright, and realistically appealing with excellent camera angles. Once you get the move set down, playing online can be fun with load quicker. You get to customize your own avatar with clothing and looks similar to that of the existing characters. If you’re the average game player or casual anime fan, “Jump Force” might be worth the wait until the price drops $10-15. However, if you’re a big fan of “Shonen Jump Manga”s and enjoy the fighting genre, then it is worth the purchase. It was released in February of this year for the PC, Xbox One, and the PS4 for the average selling price of $59.99.