Jump Force is a love letter to all fans of Jump Manga/Anime, featuring the most famous characters from several series in celebration of the magazine’s 50th anniversary. Pitting them against one another, aiding their friends and fighting against the antagonists of the separate shows, Jump Force was meant to be a climactic, flashy show of the amazingness that is Jump. Following in the footsteps of other Jump games like Jump Stars, Jump Force moves the franchise to consoles in a somewhat Xenoverse skin. But with so much competition in the fighting scene, has Jump Force been able to ascend?
The story of Jump Force is pretty common for the style of game where you create your own character. You are attacked by a villain to have a hero save you, but in doing so you are given the limelight with powers of your own. After a quick creation segment, choosing from hairstyles all over Jump, and some meagre choices of body types alongside various tattoos, we will dash straight into the action. Following along with Luffy, Goku and Naruto, we will be fighting back against an evil invasion of Cube controlled grunts and the antagonists of the shows like Freeza, Kaguya and Blackbeard.
Whilst fighting off these foes you will be knocking the sense back into controlled heroes who join your side, increasing the roster of characters to play as. The overall story is similar to that of Xenoverse, with worlds colliding together and you keeping the peace. You will be taking on missions from several teams, whom you choose 1 to align with for the multiplayer portion of the game. There are 2 main antagonists within the story, Galena and Kane, combined with seedy adversaries in the dark.
To complete the story mode of Jump Force you will need to spend around 12 hours, though that will change based on your expertise with arena brawlers. Aside from the story missions, Jump features dozens of side missions to unlock new outfits, abilities and skills, adding several hours to your max playtime. There isn’t any point to replaying the game, as your choice of a team doesn’t affect the story, though you may want a character for each fighting type from Pirate, Martial Artist and Ninja.
If you have played Dragonball Z Xenoverse you will be very accustomed to the gameplay of Jump Force. If not, it is an arena based fighting game, with X for light attacks and Y for heavy attacks. Holding down an attack button will charge it to break guards, or you can grab the opponent with Circle to throw them from any stance. As you attack, get attacked, or charge with R1, you will gain energy to use for special abilities.
Your special attacks are mapped to holding R1 and the face buttons, with the A button saved for your Awakening ability. These attacks deal quite a sizeable amount of damage and take 1-2 bars of energy, with your max energy being 5 at a time. Ranging from physical attacks like Meteor Combination to beams like Special Beam Cannon, the abilities have a wide variety of build-up times as well as the distance they travel or track opponents. When it comes down to these abilities it is a real Rock, Paper, Scissors match of using ranged versus melee and making sure your attacks have no charge-up time to win out in situations of opposed abilities.
Each match has you fighting with and/or against 3 characters, swapping them in with the L1 button. While characters don’t differ heavily in power, their move sets and abilities will warrant a swap here or there to counter an opponent. You can also call in your teammates by holding L1, having them use one of their abilities against the enemy team. Health and awakening gauges are shared amongst all team members, so swapping out won’t give you any more.
As you receive damage you will increase your awakening bar, at 50% it will allow you to use your awakening ability or enter into an awakening state. While in this state you will move quicker and deal more damage, with some characters changing style, like Super Saiyan or auras. Ample use of this gauge will allow players to come back from hard fights, with 2 or so uses per match.
You will also be able to attach skills to abilities, increasing the damage of the specific ability or gaining a buff to your character or giving a debuff to your opponent. Skills aren’t incredibly powerful with most of their usage feeling underwhelming, though combining them all together with other skills, support skills and the like add into an overall increase in stats.
As you make your way through the game you will also increase your level, gaining experience from completing missions either in defeat or victory. Levels will unlock new missions, which in turn will give more EXP, items, outfits and abilities, feeding your ever-increasing character strength.
If you’re not one for the story mode, which is amazingly lacklustre, you can also try your hand at online matches, in both ranked and friendly modes. Playing against other gamers isn’t too different from AI as you’re in a constant struggle of trying to gauge what the opponent will do next, to attack accordingly. With my time in the game, I didn’t find any broken combos to kill an opponent within 1 combo, though I do believe there could exist one. While it does take some skill to come out on top, you can still spam or wait for the opportune moment to win a match.
The music in Jump Force is incredibly forgettable, with hardly any tracks from the franchises used. While the game seems to try and meld the styles of all the anime, mostly Naruto, One Piece and Dragonball, it all turns into a weird cacophony of sound that doesn’t fit at all. The main hub song is grating, battle tracks are washed out by the action and cutscenes rarely have a fitting song to follow their events.
For the most part, the story is way too easy with only a few enemies giving me any trouble. Bosses have more defence and often attack non-stop, requiring a change in tactic, but with enough planning and memorising of their AI it becomes a cakewalk. Sadly the game makes it all too easy to repeat or spam moves to win a match, be it blocking until you have an opportunity to grab, or rushing in and using your physical abilities.
If you are coming into Jump Force for the story mode, I would highly advise against it. The story is bland, cliché and repetitive to the point where a good 8 hours is spent just fighting nameless grunts or the Jump heroes and villains 5 times or more each. Add into that fact that each mission will have you see 8 or so loading screens before completion, loading between each scene, conversation, fight and rematch. There is also way too many missions that don’t follow your character or have no relevance to the major plot, almost like filler.
While the graphics can be to personal taste they are disgustingly action figure-like to the point where faces look painted on with little to no emotion or animation. Body movements are weirdly tweened and cause a strange uncanny valley effect that is both realistic and nauseating. If you’re fine with the art style this can be ignored, but for such a famous conglomeration it deserved a bit more in way of detail.
Overall, Jump Force gets a 6/10, the PvP and gameplay are passable but balancing is horrendous with too many exploits alongside a terrible story mode. If you want to just play this game for PvP, you will need to grind heavily to build up your own-made character’s abilities or regulate yourself to the roster of 42 characters which is way too low for the number of franchises within the game itself. The repetitive gameplay is made even worse when both you and the AI reuse tactics over and over with flashy attacks that sometimes lack detail to their design.