Jump Force Review

Richard Walker

As a piece of pure and unadulterated fan service, it doesn't get much better than Jump Force. Should you have even a passing fancy in Shonen Jump magazine and its slew of different anime characters, you'll be in nirvana with the number of characters on offer and all of the other manga-based fripperies. As a package, however, Jump Force just doesn't cut the mustard, for a whole variety of reasons.

How about the boring, by-the-numbers story in which the Shonen Jump universe has been possessed by mysterious 'umbras cubes', or the poor presentation all round? From the moment you dive into the game, you're thrown into a massive hub area that's irritating to navigate thanks to the complete lack of a map and no arrows pointing the way to your objective. These are things you'd normally take for granted that are sorely lacking from Jump Force.


As for the fighting itself, Jump Force has a range of moves, abilities and mechanics to experiment with, and button mashing will only get you so far. Battling it out with a team of three characters you can tag in and out proves enjoyable enough, for a couple of matches. But after the umpteenth mission fighting red-eyed characters in thrall to the black aura of umbras and cannon fodder known as 'Venoms', it all starts to wear very thin indeed. Entirely devoid of any variation in its story missions, something made all the more apparent by the fact that every character basically feels the same, Jump Force very quickly becomes a tiresome succession of increasingly boring dust-ups. And there's no effort to even conjure up an interesting narrative that ties the whole thing together.

Making your way around Jump Force's hub isn't hugely taxing, but often you can find yourself wandering around aimlessly as your custom avatar in a vast, empty space desperately searching for where to go. You can always check in with Director Glover (who resembles a gaunt Gregg Wallace from MasterChef) for some rudimentary guidance, or your mission objective. Usually it’s “will you help us save the world again?” Sure. You then fight another character or team of characters, bring them back to the J-Force base, ask them to join up, then it's on to the next one. Yawn.

Progression is agonisingly slow too, so reaching the recommended level for certain Free Missions (with special requirements to complete!) takes forever, meaning you'll have likely given up trying after a few hours. Key Missions make up the entirety of the single-player 'story', while Free Missions and occasional Extra Missions give you some additional stuff to do if you can be bothered, but it's essentially all the same. There's nothing here that injects any kind of variety into Jump Force, developer Spike Chunsoft seemingly happy enough to let the core fighting systems speak for themselves.

Indeed, fighting in Jump Force can be sporadically enjoyable, whether you're taking on friends or online opponents. There are numerous things under the hood to take into consideration, whether it's your chosen character's three special attacks or their Awakening ability, designed to help turn the tide when the battle isn't going your way. There's nothing necessarily wrong with Jump Force's fighting fundamentals, per se, it's the scant, flimsy wrapping that surrounds it.

Blocking is necessary, as is dodging and being able to quickly teleport out of a scrape, and the spectacle of a skirmish is suitably epic in scale and scope, with lots of pyrotechnics and ground shattering combat. Being able to chase opponents across each arena keeps the brawls up-close and personal, and you do have to think tactically most of the time, especially against a human opponent. But none of this really matters when it doesn't mean anything. And Jump Force's missions and Events feel entirely pointless, the story dull, lifeless and painfully uninteresting, the hub a place where you can challenge other players online, exchange emotes, or get hopelessly lost.


Or you can head to the Store and use your gold earned from beating missions to purchase new items, clothes and moves for your avatar character, although you can't try on outfits first. You have the picture of the costume to go on, and that's it. Yet another irritating oversight, like the lack of information on the character select screen. Want to know which Shonen Jump thing Gaara is from? Google it, because it's nowhere to be found in the game. It's a shame, because there's a good little fighting game in here somewhere, but it's mired in dodgy execution and marred by a severe lack of modes and differing match types.

Bereft of varied activities beyond its interminable, dull as dishwater narrative and boring missions, Jump Force is a solid enough fighting game at its heart, but it's poorly put together, shoddily presented with little thought given to small details that would have made the game feel more complete. Shonen Jump aficionados will love the generous roster of characters from Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, Saint Seiya, My Hero Academia, and others, but for non-fans, there's really nothing here.

Jump Force

Boasting a roster of great Shonen Jump characters and a decent fighting game at its core, Jump Force forgets all of the other elements that you'd ordinarily take for granted. Fans might find something here to enjoy, but anyone who doesn't know their Frieza from their Vegeta might do well to steer clear.

Form widget
50%
Audio
70%

Recognisable voice actors and a funky little earworm ditty that I'm still humming now ensure Jump Force is easy on the ears. Do the characters have to shout everything, though?

Visuals
60%

Jump Force's art style is strange, transposing its manga/anime characters to real world locations, lending each a more realistic style. Luffy, for instance, just looks plain wrong on so many levels. Your avatar's run animation looks weird too.

Playability
70%

Get past the lacklustre presentation and lack of meaningful content, and there's a solid fighting game to be found. It's unfortunate, however, that each character might look distinct, but they don't feel very different to one another.

Delivery
30%

A complete lack of attention to detail, far too many loading screens (why the hell does the shop menu overlay take time to load up?), and poor presentation across the board make Jump Force feel unpolished and incomplete.

Achievements
50%

A bland list that relies far too heavily on playing for a ludicrous amount of time. Leveling up a character to 70 will take up far too much of your life. Do yourself a favour and don't bother.

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