We’ve seen something of a resurgence when it comes to fighting games in the past decade or so. There was perhaps some concern that the genre was starting to get a little stale, but there’s definitely been a push toward releasing new and impressive titles that cover a variety of franchises. Licensed anime games are certainly among this push, of course, Bandai Namco’s franchise-mixing Jump Force is just about as much of a licensed anime game as you can get.
Let’s be honest: it’s not exactly on par with recent hits like Dragon Ball FighterZ, but it’s not trying to be; Jump Force is all about bringing together a bunch of characters fans love and having them fight.
When a malicious force of baddies known as the Venoms led by various Shonen Jump villains shows up to cause problems, you’re caught in the crossfire and mortally wounded. It’s fortunate, then, that you’re able to become an anime hero yourself with the power of a mysterious cube. In order to fight back against the Venoms and save the world, you’ll need to team up with the Jump Force, an organization of characters from all kinds of classic anime and manga who combine their powers to get the job done.
In essence, this is a sort of all-stars version of the Dragon Ball Xenoverse series. Characters from Dragon Ball Z, Bleach, One Piece, Naruto and more are all present and accounted for, not to mention you can create your own character, incorporating elements from multiple series to create the most concentrated dose of anime nonsense possible. It’s just like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – only with absolutely nothing to do with anything related to Nintendo.
Much like Xenoverse, Jump Force amounts to a hub area that links together numerous combat-focused missions. Messing around with stats and customization is nice, much as it is in Xenoverse but actually running around the hub feels a little slow and awkward since the place is too big for its own good. The combat here is somewhat similar to the Naruto Ultimate Ninja series; you’ve got extended autocombos, cinematic special and ultimate attacks and a bar-based means of escaping from attacks. It’s all very flashy – perhaps even too much so, as the most bombastic attacks are stupidly destructive and leave the arena in shambles for a bit.
All your favorite characters are here and they’ve got their signature attacks, so you can expect to see Kamehamehas, Red Hawks and even Dark Magician summons paving your surroundings. Yes, you can play as Yami Yugi. Yes, it’s a little dumb, but just as hilarious as you’d expect. The cast is fairly large, so it’s nice that fights are team-based so you can experience more characters at once. You can play online as well, but I didn’t find that the combat was deep or involving enough to merit the effort.
Jump Force is all about its presentation. Bringing all these characters together and unifying them into a single art style was more…generous to some franchises than others, admittedly; the DBZ crowd suffers a bit in this regard, while the Bleach characters generally look pretty okay. Voice acting goes about the same way, with some characters being tolerable and others…well, Yugi comes up again here, as his screams when taking damage last for around three to four seconds longer than the actual hits. It’s a mixed bag, in other words, though I’d say on the whole Jump Force looks and sounds better than average, and at least the framerate tends to stay consistent.
Anyway, look, you and I both know you watched Naruto, DBZ and One Piece as a kid. With that in mind, you’re probably going to like Jump Force. There are a few quibbles here and there, but as a game that’s all about giving fanservice to fans who love it, it’s difficult to argue this cross-pollinating, character-mixing smasher does what it sets out to do.