Video games based on popular manga and/or anime have always been a bit of a dicey situation for Western audiences. Certain anime series, such as “Dragon Ball” and “Naruto,” have created several successful game franchises adored by fans both in Japan and the United States. And due to the popularity of characters from these franchises, namely Goku and Naruto, crossover games featuring characters from not only the aforementioned series, but from other popular shōnen anime.
The first game that featured this type of crossover was the Japan only “J-Stars Victory VS,” published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.This game received a lot of attention from Western audiences and was eventually adapted for a North American release on the Playstation 4. In February of this year, Bandai Namco released a spiritual successor to “J-Stars” titled “Jump Force”, the name being a reference to the “Weekly Shōnen Jump,” a magazine that releases different chapters of popular shōnen manga in various languages.
The game itself is more or less similar to “J-Stars Victory” in both fighting mechanic and style of gameplay. There are a few minor differences between the two games such as, which characters appear in the game, updated graphics and some basic formatting. The main difference between the two games is the inclusion of a main story and unique character customization in “Jump Force.”
As a huge fan of classic anime series, I could barely stop myself from attempting to play it. I found playing the split-screen multiplayer fighting mode with friends to be exciting and fun. The combat system is a bit interesting as the game heavily relies on character balancing. The controls are also a bit vague as I found myself not knowing basic blocks and counters about three hours into gameplay.
However, the fights feel very fluid and the grandiose spectacles that come with ultimate attacks make the game an exciting experience. An aspect of the gameplay that I found beyond fun was the use of playable support characters. In the split screen game mode, players choose a team of three characters that the player can cycle through during the match. But, not only can you switch between these playable characters, they can be used for supporting attacks when not being directly controlled by the player. Though, the combat does have some issues that come along with it. The biggest problem I had with it was the fact that one could use a basic block during an ultimate attack and negate around 90% of the damage. This made for some rather frustrating matches that made me feel as if I had been cheated out of a victory.
Other than that, the gameplay is pretty solid and makes for a fun fighting game. While “Jump Force” is an all around fun game to play, it is really lacking in the main story. The character creation and use of that custom character in the story was very cool, but the story itself was not very well made. The story was dry with your character teaming up with popular anime characters to defeat an evil organization that seeks world domination. I found myself mindlessly completing missions and not really caring about major plot developments. “Jump Force” is a very fun multiplayer fighting game, but its story mode is lacking in depth, content and general enjoyment. Final score: 7/10.