Shonen Jump. A weekly shonen manga series that was first published back in 1968 in Japan, enrapturing young boys and girls with tales of Super Saiyans, pirates, Soul Reapers and Shinobi ever since.
50 years later and Jump Force is supposed to be the result of years of well-loved anime craft, and the passion in bringing them all together in this brawler. Only the result is a game that’s got the schematics to be something truly great… but completely lacks the substance to do it.
Instead, you’re left with this soulless product, whose only enjoyable factor is the relief you feel when you finally get into beating your enemy to a bloody pulp.
The premise of Jump Force is simple: you, a nameless nobody, is conscripted into joining the organization known as Jump Force (or J-Force for short). For some reason or other, the real world and the worlds of Shonen Jump have collided.
This has left J-Force being led by Director Glover, a new character that has specifically been created by Dragon Balls Akira Toriyama, to squash those who wish to do the real world harm.
With you joining the ranks of J-Force, you’ll be assigned missions with huge Shonen Jump heroes like Goku, Luffy and Naruto.
You know, the characters you want to play in the first place rather than be stuck as some random original character. There are a variety of missions, some being there to help you earn abilities or new cosmetics, whereas there are others that are included solely to push the plot of Jump Force forward.
Speaking of plot, where the hell is it? While you can argue that not many folks will be there for the plot, the threadbare attempt at one is nothing short of ridiculous.
For a good portion of the game, you’re carted off to different locations to recruit heroes into J-Force, fight them, and then have a small talk before you repeat the process over again.
This wouldn’t be so bad, but it takes about five minutes to get from completing the quest, to actually doing the quest. The load times are just so darn long!
Thankfully, Jump Force eventually switches it up a little by having ‘big’ missions, but by God, it takes far too long for the game to introduce something exciting. It’s sad really, because there are miniscule snippets of interesting plot, but it just gets bogged down by fetch quests that leave you feeling dead inside.
It doesn’t let you interact with your favourite characters enough either, and even when you do, it’s like talking to a caricature rather than someone you recognize from the series you love.
And then there’s the lack of voice acting for some characters and scenes. Hoo boy, am I used to playing games with no voice acting? Yeah, it doesn’t really bother me.
But when you’ve got characters who just don’t speak at all (I’m looking at you, Ryuk) while around other characters who do talk, or there are scenes where it’s just head nodding between characters? That’s when I start to wonder why there’s so little effort in certain features of Jump Force.
Because, despite appearances, it’s obvious that there was a lot of effort put into the combat of Jump Force. Each character has their own gait, special abilities and Awakened ultimates. They have their own lines, and unique ones depending on their opponent.
In fact, Jump Force’s combat is mostly, despite the inconsistencies of dodging, superb.
I’d even go further to say that it’s unfair to compare it to fighters like Dragon Ball FighterZ, as Jump Force is much more welcoming to beginners of the fighting genre and doesn’t rely too much on combos at all.
Some may find that disappointing, but considering I don’t even like fighting games and I enjoyed Jump Force’s combat, I’ll take it as a positive.
During the open and closed beta, there were a number of issues with connecting to other players. There is none of that now, and it makes getting into the nitty and gritty of combat that much more rewarding.
You’ll also be able to earn points if you play in ranked matches, allowing you to show off your fighting skills to the others around you that yes, this person… They’ll be a challenge to fight.
Of course, you don’t need to play ranked. You can always just head into quick-match or even have a friendly match which, just like ranked, you can change the settings of to suit what you’re looking for in a fight.
It’s a pretty interesting feature, and it’s obvious that Jump Force wants the player to feel like their choices matter when it comes to combat.
Which is why I’m left scratching my head at how there’s little choice on who you can play if you’d like to play a female hero. It’s 2019 for god’s sake, and out of 42 characters there are only three – yes, three – female characters included in the roster. You have Rukia from Bleach, Hancock from One Piece and Kaguya from Naruto.
Frankly, the fact that Sakura Haruno from Naruto is the only member from Team 7 not included speaks volumes. You’re also missing characters like Videl from Dragon Ball Super, and Nami from One Piece. All of them play important roles, yet not one of them appear.
I get it, Shonen Jump was targeted towards teen boys, but it’s been 50 years and there are more than enough badass lady fighters to include in this game. The lack of female presence within the game just makes Jump Force feel like a boys club with a tacky ‘no girls allowed’ plastered on it.
I’d also argue that the ladies are barely in the story too, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t recognize any of the characters from how they are in their respected anime. So perhaps them hardly being in it is actually a blessing in disguise.
In fact, Jump Force is best enjoyed by separating it from the story entirely. It isn’t worth your time to invest in this half-baked storyline with its soulless characters and poor plot.
A damn shame too, because the combat is great, the game itself looks fantastic, the ranking system has real promise and the multiplayer is where the real fun is. But to present this to fans and say it’s the product to celebrate 50 years of Shonen Jump?
Well, that’s just downright insulting.
The Verdict – 2/5
• Combat is fun and exciting
• Customization is fun
• Multiplayer feels rewarding with the ranking system
• The characters are unrecognizable in everything but their appearance
• Voice-acting is poor
• The lack of female presence in the roster is disheartening
• Barebones story bogged down by fetch quests