If you’re a big fan of the Shonen Jump anime and manga series, then you’ll probably love the idea of many of them coming together in Jump Force. Crossovers between different series of heroes and villains always have a fun appeal to them, but unfortunately, their charm is very short lived beyond seeing everyone’s favorite characters meet up with each other. This is the case with Jump Force’s overall package, which has some interesting visuals and music but suffers from rough bugs, glitches, and poor design decisions with its gameplay. Does it still have enough for anime fans to push through and enjoy this massive anime ensemble? Only if you’ve played previous Bandai Namco games that follow this same formula, otherwise what’s here is very banged up.
The biggest problem with the gameplay of Jump Force is how wonky and broken some portions of the game can be. Battles are 1-on-1 with each combatant having two other characters that can switch in and out, as well as launch an assist attack. There are a lot of characters to play as, with some being interesting choices for a fighting game that many probably would not think of. Having Yugi Muto square up against Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star is a weird and fun to watch. This is great but also comes with a few setbacks that kill the momentum of matches, such as sharing one health bar among everybody. The hitboxes of attacks are also inconsistent a lot of the time, with some attacks connecting in weird ways and having a varied amount of damage delivered. Taking on the computer in a fight isn’t hard, but when you frequently run into instances where the damage you receive seems unfairly scaled, it can get very frustrating.
Fighting takes place in large ring-like stages that take place in some popular world locations, each with a few iconic things from the Shonen Jump worlds has appeared. These are wide and have a lot of room to move in, but aren’t completely open-areas with destructible objects. Don’t expect to be blowing your opponents into buildings with a Kamehameha wave because the game doesn’t get anywhere near that level of environmental interactivity. Things also get very repetitive with how few stages there are to fight on, with most of them not fully playing up the merging world’s aspect of the game. It’s neat to see the Saiyan pods or Luffy’s ship in the background, but not only can you not interact with them you also don’t see other obvious nods as easily in the stages.
And then there’s the main hub and overall design of the game’s options and menus. If you were hoping there would be an easy to navigate, streamlined way of getting around in Jump Force, don’t get your hopes up. The home base hub you explore looks good but lacks a larger map to reference when moving around and interacting with key points of interest. The mini-map only goes so far with showing you information unless you actively inspect each section of the hub.
What’s more, is how bad the framerate can drop when playing online and seeing a ton of players move around the hub. This can make finding the next event or key quests to initiate difficult and annoying when you’re stuck searching around for something you need to find to start the next mission. The three main sections of the hub are divided among teams or Jump anime series that are popular among fans. You can choose which team to join at the start of the game but there’s very little variation between them, in both the missions you get and the rewards you receive.
The one thing that makes Jump Force appealing are the visuals, which try to make realistic renders of the Jump characters by placing them in the real world. This is a unique concept that sometimes clashes together a bit too much in some cases, but does have a few neat moments. The clothes on everybody look tangible and more three-dimensional with high-quality textures, especially the fabric on Goku, Naruto, and Luffy’s clothing.
But this doesn’t always work well with the characters themselves, especially those with really exaggerated faces and expressions. The One Piece characters suffer the most from this since they look either unfinished or basic compared to the rest of the roster. The dynamic lighting is pretty intense in most environments and looks great, as do the effects of the Ki attacks and special moves from everyone in the game. If you want the best realistic interpretation of what a Special Beam Cannon or Spirit Gun blast would look like in the real world, this is as good as its going to get.
Going online with Jump Force is a very lackluster affair, especially if you try to do so without finishing the main story. The missions for the story and extra missions after are pretty basic, but the online battles against other players can at times be a big disaster. Latency issues when connecting to others and balancing of the fights are only some of the problems you can run into, with the latter being something that should get changed over time.
Bugs and glitches are rampant in and out of matches, with the camera also getting in the way when the action gets pretty intense. In the hub area, you can frequently see pop-in textures and objects being rendered into the game, or even catch a glimpse of someone riding an invisible motorcycle around you. Some of these issues can be due to the quality of an online connection, but the abundance of them and frequency they occur are very questionable.
Jump Force is not going to be for everybody, even among the biggest of anime fans who love the Shonen Jump stories. Some of the references and appearances are pretty specific and will go over many heads, mostly due to the lack of any menu to reference or dossier on the characters that appear in the game. The bugs and glitches will severely impact everybody’s experience and may turn your time playing Jump Force into a frustrating one if you aren’t willing to look past its obvious issues. The visuals and overall concept might be great, but everything else about Jump Force needs a whole lot more training.
This review is based on a digital review code for Jump Force on PlayStation 4, provided by Bandai Namco.