Crossover fighting games are a great way to duke it out as all your favourite characters. However, does Bandai Namco's latest fighter with characters from across the Shonen Jump universe offer enjoyable gameplay?
Jump Force features a large cast of characters from franchises such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hunter x Hunter, and many more. Right off the bat, I was a bit hesitant as I had to create my own character. Upon actually diving into the game, I was blown away by how many characters there are to play as. So, why would I want to play as my own goofy fellow? Anyway, the roster is full of many familiar faces as well as some obscure characters like Dai from the early '90s Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai. Thankfully, the visuals are fantastic and very unique. Whereas most anime / manga fighters opt for a cel-shaded and cartoon-like approach, Jump Force looks a lot more detailed and gritty which is a substantial change of pace. Needless to say, I like it!
The main thing that matters in a fighting game is its gameplay and unfortunately, that's where Jump Force begins to become disappointing. At first, I was impressed with its intuitive and responsive controls. Upon becoming accustomed to how it's played, I found myself enjoying it a little. Then, I noticed that the battles started to all feel the same no matter which character I was using and it all went downhill from then on. The fact that each character has the same control scheme and that their own unique moves don't require you to change up your strategy is hugely disappointing. It's as if you can exchange moves between the characters and nothing substantial would change. That being said, the battles definitely look exciting complete with flashy moves and explosive abilities.
On the plus side, Jump Force features a fair amount of modes and challenges. For starters, you play it from a central hub area where you can visit a couple of different shops, take on story or optional missions, or battle in a variety of online and offline modes including local multiplayer. By the way, the shops and configuration menus allow you to assign skills and use boost items for your next battle. Running around the expansive hub is quite fun, especially considering you can see other online players scattered about. There are also 3 factions that you can join but no matter which one you decide on, the following missions and story will basically remain unchanged.
Finally, I'd like to discuss a couple of points that annoyed me a great deal. First of all, the load times are absolutely atrocious. I spent almost as much time waiting for battles to load than actually fighting which is just absurd. Along those same lines, there are plenty of cutscenes and dialogue sequences that you can't skip. Considering the premise for the game is so silly, I really couldn't care less about the goofy story segments and desperately wanted to skip them but you cannot. That actually leads me to my final complaint: there are no English voices. I found this to be quite jarring as some of the Japanese voice actors don't sound anything like their English counterparts so it was hard to hear certain voices coming out of some of the characters. I thought this was a somewhat big budget game.
Jump Force features a massive cast of characters but its gameplay is definitely flashier than deep which makes it eventually become incredibly monotonous and tough to enjoy. Hopefully, Arc System Works will make Bandai Namco's next crossover fighter.
- + Huge roster with loads of familiar and obscure manga characters
- + Lots of challenges and modes
- + Great visuals / unique character models
- - Combat is more flashy and shallow than long-lasting and engaging
- - No English voice acting
- - Awful load times / unskippable scenes