Sometimes I buy things as a joke. Not always the best idea. Something about trying out a thing you know you won’t necessarily like as just always been appealing to me since sometimes you may end up being surprised by it or even find entertainment from it. However other times it ends up exactly how you think it will and it just ends up being miserable. Jump Force does both of these things to an extreme degree.
Ever since Jump Force was revealed back in 2018 I was always skeptical of it. Not because the gameplay looked bad or anything, it’s just the visuals did NOT leave a good first impression which I know isn’t really fair, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover…but….come on.
While the character models still don’t look much better months after the reveal, I will say some characters look better than others (mainly Kenshiro and the Naruto cast) but I WILL give credit to the environments. There’s a lot of fantastic detail put into some of those stages, and they make great use of the wide arena’s they’re given. However, with that being said the game has a lot of little things that really do hinder the experience. For one thing it uses an atrocious amount of motion blur and it makes the frantic, particle effect heavy combat almost unwatchable. Luckily you can mod it out of PC version (I’m not sure on consoles however…sorry). Now while I think the vast majority of this game looks like an absolute dumpster fire, I actually can’t say the same thing about the combat.
Though fairly unpolished and inconsistent with move properties, the combo and assist system can actually give the player quite a lot of freedom in terms of what they can do. It’s extremely easy to string together light, heavy, and special attacks together and a lot of characters have great synergy with each other. Character placement on teams actually matter too since you can only tag in/call the assist of the next character so you have to make sure they work together and I kind of like that. It adds a layer of strategy to the game and it does keep combat interesting. A lot of characters feel very different from each other mechanically and many of the special moves are a ton of fun to experiment with, Yugi being a stand out because of his “Draw” move.
The combat is not without its flaws however. The biggest issue is with how assists/tag ins work. In many other tag team fighters (Marvel vs Capcom, Dragon ball FighterZ etc.) to call out an assist you tap the partner button and to tag them in you hold it. In Jump Force it’s the exact opposite and it can make stringing combos together very cumbersome and sometimes downright annoying. Another is that far too many moves have super armor and that can make predicting and counter attacking extremely difficult since a lot of characters can just brute force their way through you, which I GUESS is the point of an anime arena fighter but it just never gelled with me personally. All in all though I actually thought this game was fun to mess with when it worked and it’s probably the games best feature.
Because the rest of the single player sure as hell isn’t.
One of the biggest selling points of Jump Force was the ability to create your own character and interact with your favorite Jump characters in a large story mode. So, allow me to introduce the star of our rundown of the single player content. This is Brock.
When you start the game initially you’re tasked with creating a character and you join Jump Force…or J-Force..the game’s voice dialogue and subtitles never really match. Your mission is to stop the real world and the worlds of Jump from merging by finding a bunch of weird, ugly little cubes and…that’s it! Honestly the story is the most tedious part of the game because it’s a slow slog of mission after mission of just doing the same thing with no real variation. The real notable thing is that the writing for all the character just kind of……..
Almost every character that isn’t from Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, or Bleach are written in the most flat and boring way possible, only making casual references to their source materials or even being straight up out of character. There’s also very few fun pieces of crossover dialogue between the cast as most of it mainly consists of “Oh you know a guy that was like me? I hope we can meet someday!”. It’s just really boring and when your entire TEN PLUS HOUR story consists of that it gets VERY grating, VERY fast. It’s not even really worth going through either as all you really get out of it is an extra stage. You don’t even get to unlock any of the non Jump related characters in the game just play around with, which is a real shame.
The mission based story system also ties into, what I think is the most baffling part about Jump Force as a video game. Aside from the Story missions you can also play things called “Free Missions”, which are basically side ops that let you earn random drops as rewards. Now does this sound familiar? It should since the developer Spike Chunsoft stole this system from ANOTHER anime game with a create-a-character option Dragon Ball Xenoverse.
Now this would be fine if this game let you take on missions with other players like in Xenoverse, making the random loot drops make more sense as it would add to the replaybility and option to try again with a different party…except that it doesn’t. ALL missions can only be tackled by a single player…so what exactly is the point of this then? Why have an online lobby system and missions with loot only be available to a single player? It comes off as pointless and honestly I just quit messing with them after a while since the rewards you get don’t even come close to the amount of gold and experience points you get in the story mode.
Jump Force was one of the most exhausting games I’ve played in a long time, and it’s not even because it’s necessarily bad. There IS something here that can be enjoyed and played with but it’s surrounded by pounds and pounds of monotony. I can’t say I wouldn’t recommend this game but I can say that you absolutely should NOT buy this at full price. Wait for a deep, deep discount and then get it. If you have some friends the vs mode can honestly be a blast but everything outside of that is so forgettable that I would have honestly been happier if all the cutscenes were replaced with screenshots of the manga all of these characters came from.