The hugely popular manga series “Weekly Shonen Jump” is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion Bandai Namco is releasing a huge crossover fighting game featuring many regular characters from the series. The result is Jump Force, and it’s available now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
Jump Force Details
We can be heroes
As Jump Force begins, the Shonen Jump multiverse collides when the villainous Frieza shows up to destroy New York City. You are a civilian caught in the crossfire, suffering a mortal wound during Frieza’s rampage. Some familiar faces come to your aid however, saving your life by infusing you with the power to become a super hero yourself!
Thus begins your tenure as a member of Jump Force. Along with familiar heroes such as Goku, Trunks, and Naruto to name a few, you must defend the multiverse from invasion. Powerful umbra cubes like the one responsible from turning you into a hero are being used to mind control other heroes and turn evil-hearted civilians into enemy “Venoms”. To save the world you must free them and recruit more heroes to Jump Force.
Broad character customization
Your first task in Jump Force will be to create your own customizable avatar to represent your hero. The level of options available to do so is actually quite impressive. I was happy to find a significant number of choices for every aspect of my character’s appearance, which can often be limiting in fighting games that offer character customization. Jump Force certainly leans heavily into unique avatar features.
You can visit a number of shops in the game’s hub world as well. Here you can spend the currency you’ll be earning by playing the game on even more unique clothing and customization options.
You’ll start out with a default set of special skills, but you can ultimately purchase and swap these out as well. Players can obtain better skills and powers from the shops using the same currency. You can also purchase a number of single-use buffs and power-ups to assist you in battle.
This allows you to create a fighter that not only suits your style aesthetically, but in combat as well. It gives the game an interesting level of replayability as you strive to unlock as many customization moves and apparel as possible.
Deep, deep lore
Jump Force definitely makes a huge effort to provide fan service to fans of the source material. As the story portion of the game progresses, it digs deep into the lore of Shonen Jump with drawn out, expositional dialogue. Fans with the most dedication to these franchises may appreciate this, but the average player will almost certainly get mired down in the confusing fanfare.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the cut-scenes on their own were done well, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. The dialogue is awkward and often cringe-worthy, and every vignette feels rushed and incomplete. As of right now they are not skippable either. Whether they like it or not, players must sit through the lengthy story beats before advancing.
Load times and more
Sadly it isn’t just the cut-scenes that give the sense that Jump Force did not receive the level of polish it needs. It also suffers from frequently lengthy load times that really hurt the pacing of the game. When you combine the painful load times with the unskippable cut-scenes, it’s definitely a recipe for frustration.
On top of this, the main hub world where players spend their time out of battle is janky and unappealing as well. I personally experience frequent and blatant screen-tearing every time I move the camera. It’s really shocking how poorly the game performs here.
All this really just adds up to one conclusion—Jump Force needs more development time. These sorts of bugs and issues are exactly the sort of thing that likely could be fixed with a bit more time and care. It speaks to the assumption that Jump Force may just have been pushed out the door before it was really ready.
There are rumblings that the development team is working on updates that may alleviate a number of these issues, including the ability to skip cut-scenes. If this is true then Jump Force may see some significant improvement down the line. That said, it’s still disappointing that the game shipped and released in its current state.
For all its other issues, Jump Force is actually a pretty competent fighter when you actually get to the fighting. The action is intense and the flow of battle is quick and engaging. Although occasionally things get a bit frantic and it’s difficult to even tell who is hitting who—think like a Michael Bay Transformers film—for the most part there is a lot of potential for fun.
Jump Force features 1 v. 1 combat utilizing teams of three characters. You’ll be able to swap between your team members, with one fighter active while the other two offer support. There are currently 42 characters available, along with your own custom avatar.
The combat system does a good job of toeing the line between accessibility for amateur players and deep mastery for fighting game pros. Super moves don’t require complex inputs like they do in some other fighters. Yet there is real skill involved in becoming competent in the game’s system of counters and breaks.
Jump Force is an average fighter that would benefit from a bit more development time
I can’t help but feel that Jump Force wasn’t quite fully baked before it came out of the oven. The persistently long load times and screen tearing seem to indicate that the development team just didn’t get enough time to work the kinks out. The production level of the game’s cut-scenes as well just doesn’t match the level of reverence it should have for the source material.
That said, the combat itself is actually pretty fun (when you finally get there). The level of customization may also be satisfying enough to keep some players coming back for more. Still, future patches aside, Jump Force nevertheless lacks the polish it deserves.
+ Deep avatar customization
+ Fun, fast-paced combat
– Terrible cut-scenes
– Lengthy load times
– Frequent screen tearing in hub world
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF JUMP FORCE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5