There have been 50 years of Shonen Jump and that is truly astonishing. The sheer volume of manga that have seen the light of day because of this publication is astounding. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that many of the series that have run in Jump have been an integral part of anime coming to the west. Hell, Toonami ran a few of the series on Saturday morning many years ago and led many of us down the path of spiky hair and shouting a lot.
To celebrate this in-game form we got Jump Force. A crossover game that could only be rivalled by the memes about Avengers on Twitter. In this, the worlds of Shonen Jump and our world have all collided. An army of Venoms has invaded the real world led by two mysterious villains. As a result, the world is in disarray as anime characters come to life and normal people are turned into inhumanly-strong monsters.
You play a regular person who gets struck down by a rogue blast from a fight between Frieza and Goku. Trunks resurrect you using a special cube that also turns you into a hero. A hero capable of fighting against these superhuman beings no less. You then get to choose your fighting style before being inducted into the Jump Force, the only thing standing between the villains and victory.
So far, so anime, right? The scale of this crossover is genuinely impressive. There are currently forty characters from sixteen different series. You have classics like Naruto and Luffy, and also less well-known characters like Ryo Saeba. If there is an anime fight you have always wanted to see, then you can probably see it here. Also, the fights look really good.
The graphics are an odd one here because the battles themselves look excellent. The explosions and effects are eye-wateringly good. The character movements have a great look in each fight and – while a little hard to follow – the action is great. It just falls apart a bit when it comes to the gameplay.
There’s nothing wrong with the fights really. Well, outside of the fact that you have three characters, but they share a health bar. The combat is just a bit… okay. It isn’t anything special. You have your basic attacks, heavy attacks, special moves, and a few other bits. It feels fine, just generic. None of the characters rely on any specific knowledge. While this is great for the casual fighting fan who just likes anime, it doesn’t scratch the same itch that Dragon Ball FighterZ did.
There’s also the weird cutscenes. Some characters have lines but aren’t voice acted. None of the characters blinks enough. Very few of them even move their mouths, or limbs, while talking. It just feels eerie. Like watching a soap opera acted out by waxworks. It makes the whole game feel ever so surreal.
Overall, it isn’t that Jump Force is bad, more that it isn’t good enough. A celebration of Shonen Jump should be more than this. It almost feels rushed. It just lacks the same heart that the animes it represents have. It feels a bit soulless. It is fun for a short amount of time, but if you are a fighting game fan then this just isn’t going to do it for you. If, on the other hand, you want to just mess around with the characters, then you’ll have a laugh at least.