Developer: Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd.
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Release Date: Feb 15, 2019
Edited by KnightAvenger
JUMP FORCE is a crossover anime fighting game. The main featured anime are Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece, but it includes a huge variety of characters from a variety of manga featured in Shōnen Jump. It spans approximately 16 series and 40 playable characters ranging from some of the older but still popular 80’s manga, such as Fist of the North Star, to recent manga, such as My Hero Academia.
The game begins with Freiza terrorizing a city and Goku appearing to fight him. The player takes a shot and Trunks (and a little robot) says the only way to save the player’s life is to turn them into a hero using the power of the umbra cube. This cues character creation.
The player soon becomes a hero through the power of the cube and you find out that the antagonist has the power to use the umbra cube to impose his own will on other people. Much of the story revolves around either beating up some nameless enemies (who somehow all know unique character attacks) or rescuing (beating up) people who are being controlled and turning them into your allies. There is a bit more to the story than that and it does expand on it later on, but it isn’t really the game’s strong point. I’ll warn the reader to try and suspend disbelief about power levels and timeline continuity, too, as such things go to the wayside for the purpose of getting all the characters in.
The game has several modes, but you will be fighting battles and not much else in all of them. You generally start off in a lobby area with a mission counter, shops, battle counter and such. If you are online, you will also see other players running around. The mission counter can be used along with the NPCs to advance the story and see cutscenes. There are, however, unrelated non-story missions which involve conditions, such as winning and hitting a combo of a certain number, winning within a certain time, or using a certain character. Beyond that, there is an online or offline battle mode, which is just straight up fights.
Fighting in this game is reasonably easy to learn, but difficult to master. You won’t be able to button-mash your way through the story, but learning the basic controls should do and the in-game tutorials do a good job at getting the player up to speed.
Fights in this game can involve up to three characters per team. Quite often in the story, this involves your custom character and up to two backups. They share a health and ability gauge, but you can both use team attacks and switch between them during the fight.
After taking a certain amount of damage, a gauge half fills and a character can use “Awakening” to increase their power. When the gauge is completely full, they can use a more powerful version. Special attacks can be used in relation to this gauge, too. These can, at times, completely turn a battle around and can be very over the top, such as Naruto using an attack with the Kyuubi.
Generally, the fighting feels well done. It allows technical play without being too complex. It’s responsive, allowing quick reactions to attack, dodge, defend, and follow up. The special attacks feel like they are reasonably varied, too, not just visually but in how they act.
When you create a character, you are asked to choose to fight as either a quick and accurate martial artist, a powerful pirate, or an acrobatic ninja. You can further customize your fighting style by learning attacks and skills. These can either be bought from the store with in-game currency earned from missions or directly gained from missions. Near the start, you are also asked to choose to join the team of either Goku, Luffy, or Naruto, which does not make any real difference other than you will learn some of your choice’s moves to start with. It’s certainly possible to start with Naruto’s Rasengan, then later buy Goku’s Kamehameha, though.
One positive is that there are quite a lot of options in character creation for appearance, although the majority of them seem to be parts of pre-existing characters. Recoloring is an option, so it’s possible to have a character with the hair of Trunks from Dragon Ball, only green, with the whisker marks of Naruto, and your choice of eyes. When playing online, I saw people make reasonable copies of Himiko Toga from My Hero Academia and Saitama from One Punch Man. You can also receive clothing and accessories, both from missions and the in-game store to further customize, such as the Fourth Hokage’s cloak.
I tried playing the online battle mode. It usually worked without an issue, as long as I was happy to not search for specific types of matches and just accept whatever came. I did have a couple of issues, though.
One time I played, it took several minutes to match me with someone for an online battle. It then proceeded to run terrible, seemingly at about 10 frames per second and kept pausing for “communicating,” until it finally lost the connection near the end of round one.
I had another incident with the online mode, where I was in the lobby and suddenly had “Network Connection Lost.” This booted me to the title screen. While I can understand the occasional network issue, I wasn’t interacting with anyone at the time, so to be kicked to the title screen was quite annoying. Generally, I’d be happy to play in the lobby offline, as the only benefit is to see other players, but the player received bonuses for being online.
Aside from online-related technical hiccups, I also had a couple instances where the game temporarily froze during gameplay and one where it completely locked up and required a Ctrl-Alt-Del to close the game.
Graphically, the game looks quite good except for the facial animations. The game includes the standard graphical options, such as switching between full screen, borderless, windowed, and a variety of standard quality options. The sound isn’t an issue, but there aren’t many options for it.
One aspect of this game, which may be quite difficult to convey just through text or video, is how, in a way, this game is a love letter to the series it involves. While the story is basically just an excuse for the characters to all be in one place and to make them interact, there are a lot of little details which can be easily overlooked but aren’t. For example, each character can throw another character as a standard attack. A particular character throws in the exact same way as he does in the anime, despite it not being a particularly notable aspect of the character or his fighting style.
- Variety of characters
- Level of detail
- Fighting mechanics
- Character customization
- Fun interactions between characters
- Terrible story
- Occasional technical issues
- Facial animations
- Price for base game and DLC
Eden gives JUMP FORCE a Drastik Moé Measure of 7.0 out of 10.0 (70)
For the price of $59.99 (USD) on Steam for the base game or $89.99 (USD) for the base game and character pass, this is quite expensive for what you get. I would recommend picking up the game on sale if you are a fan of fighting games and anime. The character pass is due to include 9 new characters, but I personally found 40 to be plenty. Admittedly, I’d not say no if they added in Ranma ½ characters, though.