Reviewed on Xbox One
As the largest pillar of the manga and anime industry, Shonen Jump is an icon throughout the world for fans of Japan’s most popular media. It’s a cultural phenomenon; iconic franchises such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, and My Hero Academia all hail from this one publisher. With such a wide spread of characters with their own personalities, backgrounds, and histories, a game based wholly on this decades-long franchise should be worthy of the IP. Sadly, Jump Force is not worthy.
Jump Force currently feels like a multi-million dollar effort to shove as many Shonen Jump properties into one product. It’s a definite act of compensation; instead of polish and finesse, you get character quantity. And characters you’ll get, there’s a whole host of them here: Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, Jotaro Kujo (and Dio) from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures and the obvious Naruto, Bleach and Dragon Ball characters. Most characters that aren’t currently caught in licensing limbo are present here.
It’s an anomaly then that with 40+ iconic characters already in the game’s roster, Jump Force is more focused on providing you with a unique avatar to play as. In the same vein as Dragon Ball Xenoverse, you’re tasked with creating your own hero. As you proceed through the game’s barebones, cookie-cutter narrative you’ll get to interact with all the characters you know and love, use their classic moves as your own and even mix and match their clothes.
While this is all fine and dandy, Jump Force does skimp out on key aspects of character customization. Instead of being allowed to take whatever character’s move set you want for your default combos, you have a choice of three: fast attacks, slow attacks, and an in-between form. There’s no sword-based basics, no guns, no stretchy limbs—everything cool is delegated to special moves.
Even more bizarre is the way in which Jump Force makes your character appear as the strongest person anyone has ever seen. In fact, the game’s myriad heroes only seem to exist for two reasons: marketability and to make your character seem cooler. Early on, you manage to hold your own against Dragon Ball villain Frieza when even Goku couldn’t. Not long after, during a training spar with Saint Seiya’s Shiryu, you mark his supposedly “impenetrable” shield. You did that! You must be so cool!
With so many interesting characters, it seems trivial to introduce a custom character into the mix. You can fight better than any of the actual heroes, you’re the best of the best. Meanwhile, in the corner, a literal God is cowering as you break his face.
It would help then if the missions and scenarios your husk of a character took part in were anywhere near enjoyable, but they’re not. Every mission consists of the same few steps. You’re told there’s a disturbance, you teleport in, you fight and then you go home. Sometimes, you’ll have to fight two or three times. All of this is surrounded by generic dialogue, horrendously low-fps cutscenes, and horrid animation. The awe-inspiring multiplayer boss battles of Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 2 are nowhere to be seen here – it’s just the same thing over and over again.
The actual fighting isn’t too bad, just unpolished. Much like Xenoverse, you have basic auto-combos, four special moves, a high-powered awakening mode and a way to quickly zoom to your opponent. It’s complete style over substance. A bevy of post-processing and particle effects fill the screen every second. It’s hard to see what’s going on and, once you’re even ten hours in, you’ll barely care.
Playing Jump Force for extended periods of time just feels like you’re going through the motions. Once you’ve gotten to grips with some of the more “advanced” techniques in your arsenal, you won’t come across much of a challenge. It’s the Best Bits compilation albeit with the editor’s OC inserted just for shits and giggles. There’s very little to like here.
Jump Force isn’t a game worth playing unless it meets two criteria: you’re really into all of its anime representations and you can find it quite cheap. At $60, Jump Force is a horrid interpretation of the anime industry’s signature publisher.