When most people think of anime, what they’re really thinking of is Weekly Shōnen Jump. With prolific mighty warriors in the form of ninjas, pirates and even card game players, the characters from this publication have become anime for most people. This media titan has drawn people in with its cool character designs and intense storylines that have, for a lot of people, shaped their taste in media. Weekly Shōnen Jump is a behemoth that is celebrating its 50th anniversary and do you know how it’s going to be celebrated?
With an incredibly mediocre game.
Not to try get all dramatic at the beginning of a review but let’s cut straight to the chase, Jump Force does not feel like the celebration it’s toted to be. In fact, it almost feels a little disrespectful at times but maybe there’s something rewarding in this game. Jump Force comes in as a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s not all doom and gloom. So, before I continue to ramble on without actually saying anything, let’s get in to what this game is all about.
Pick your favourite fighter
Jump Force is the latest in a pretty long line of Shōnen Jump celebration titles and once again developed by Spike Chunsoft. It’s a crossover fighting game that sees various prolific Jump characters being thrown into some interesting battle arenas. Jump Force sees you and your opponent pick three of your favourite Jump characters to face off in combat, with all the flash and screams one should expect. The combat itself is pretty simple and easy to pick up but that doesn’t mean it’s not at least in some way interesting.
The fighting in Jump Force gives the players light attack, heavy attack, throw and jump buttons with super moves linked to a combination of two buttons. There are no complicated movement inputs or button combinations to pull of the game’s flashy special moves, which range from kind of meh to incredible spectacles that are true to the source material. Along with this, you are able to call upon your other selected fighters to either use their assist or tag out with your current character. One interesting thing to note is that each character does not have their own health pool, but rather the team shares health. This means you don’t get to switch out characters when things are looking dire like in other tag fighters, but rather for the options your other characters give you. It means that instead of maybe using additional characters to keep you in the game, you rather have to switch out when you need to changes things up on your opponent.
You can come up with some rather flashy combos if you put in the effort but at the end of the day, things, unfortunately, don’t stay engaging for long.
Overall, the combat is pretty simple and while I don’t think there’s enough to keep people engaged for a long time, what is there is fun to mess around with. There are some interesting interactions to find in Jump Force and you can come up with some rather flashy combos if you put in the effort but at the end of the day, things, unfortunately, don’t stay engaging for long. It’s fun but that fades and that’s unfortunately due to rest of the package.
The one big detractor is that its art style just doesn’t really make sense. The 550th-anniversary celebration of a weekly manga seems to want to have its characters look more like figurines and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for some characters, others aren’t as lucky. Everything comes as a mixed bag where some characters look good while others just look strange and that makes coming in to this game difficult. What this style does allow for is a pretty expansive create-a-character system which allows for some pretty good looking creations. In other games where this feature exists, you often find your characters look overly anime but here you can come up with some pretty cool things when borrowing from some Jump universes. Fortunately for the game, things look a lot better when they’re in action, especially when some of the flashier super moves are going off. It’s quite nice to see that they stuck to the source material for some of them which makes for some enjoyable moments, even if you’re the one being hit by Vegeta’s Final Flash.
A throwaway story
Now while the game has some interesting fighting, it’s not the sort of game that can allow that to carry it in the content department. There is a single-player campaign to Jump Force but it comes as more of an annoyance than anything else. Even if people are largely accustomed to throwaway stories in fighting games, Jump Force’s is so aggressively menial that it becomes annoying to play through, with largely predictable events happening over the course of it. Even the characters play out as lame parodies of themselves, only ever acting as the most surface level versions of their selves. This is kind of annoying considering that over the years these characters have built up interesting personalities, however, Jump Force doesn’t really seem too keen on acknowledging this. You play over the campaign by going from fight to fight, separated by menial cutscenes and lengthy loading screens. I wish the game did something a little more interesting with its missions than just “beat the baddy” every time. While there are side missions that have some more interesting limitations like certain attacks doing less damage, they still fit the same design and are only there if you really feel the need to grind in the game.
Jump Force tries to masquerade as something more than just your favourite Jump characters beating each other up when that’s all it ever needed to be.
Overall, Jump Force had a number of opportunities to be a little more than just mediocre but I guess in the end it just didn’t feel the need to explore them. This coupled with performance issues just make the game feel largely mediocre and not quite close to the spectacle one would hope for this celebratory title. As much as I love some of these characters they’re just poorly realised here and the gameplay, while enjoyable, is only enjoyable up to a point. All of this could have been alright if the game didn’t carry the expectations of a big budget game and such I guess that’s where it’s true fault lies. Jump Force tries to masquerade as something more than just your favourite Jump characters beating each other up when that’s all it ever needed to be.