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Jump Force Review - Shonen Through And Through

  • First Released Feb 12, 2019
  • Reviewed Feb 13, 2019
  • PC
  • XONE
  • PS4

The game's story plays out like a predictable shonen manga.

Jump Force is a celebration of 50 years of Weekly Shonen Jump manga, featuring nearly four dozen fighters from 16 of the magazine's most iconic stories. Bandai Namco's arena tag-team fighting game borrows plenty of elements from its source materials, for better and worse. Although Jump Force's campaign story drags on for way too long and ignores what could have been interesting character interactions in favor of repeated excuses for everyone to punch the crap out of each other, its combat is an enjoyable dance between two teams of fighters--thanks to the game's excellent mechanics and flashy visuals.

In Jump Force, you're an ordinary human who's caught up in a warzone when the Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto universes collide into our world and bring their assortment of heroes and villains with them. After being mortally wounded by Frieza, you're resurrected as a hero capable of learning the powers, skills, and abilities of Shonen Jump's characters, and you decide to join Goku, Luffy, and Naruto's Jump Force of allies in order to fix everyone's broken world. What follows is a fairly stereotypical shonen affair, with your character growing stronger over time, enemies and friends switching sides, and a mysterious evil working behind the scenes. Like most fighting games, there's not a single problem you don't ultimately just fix with your fists, from deciding team leader to knocking sense into those who have been corrupted by the same evil forces responsible for everyone's worlds colliding with one another.

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There's a decent story in Jump Force, but it's buried beneath a second act that goes on for far too long. After getting acquainted with your new allies, the game tasks you with responding to threats around the globe, as well as the recruitment of any additional heroes who've managed to stumble into our world from their respective universes. Character models during cutscenes are all rather cookie-cutter, as everyone stands in the same position throughout the story, only stiffly moving their mouths and occasionally blinking. The actual story moves with the same awkwardly slow pace, and it doesn't explain what's going on with everyone's worlds or what the villains' motivations are until the third act, so you play through most of the game without any idea as to what you're really fighting against. Not being able to skip cutscenes is also rather annoying, as exiting out of a mission for any reason--such as buying more items to use in combat--has you watch the same 40- to 90-second scene again.

There are brief snippets where you can see how a side story might have helped flesh out the characters, which in turn could have been a good incentive to keep pushing forward through the campaign. For example, Boruto recognizes a sadness behind the eyes of My Hero Academia's Midoriya and confides with the young hero that he knows how hard it is to live up to the ideal of father figures. But the game breezes past moments like this in order to get to the next fight.

Thankfully, those fights are a blast to play. Every combatant comes equipped with an assortment of attacks, blocks, grabs, counters, and dodges that operate in a rock-paper-scissors system. Combat is fairly accessible, and it doesn't take long to understand how the basic mechanics work. However, with over 40 playable fighters, it takes time to get a handle on the entire roster's assortment of strengths and weaknesses, giving you plenty of reason to keep playing. Each fighter has four distinct and unique special attacks as well. Even though these special moves can be broken down into one of seven different types--short-range, dashing, counter, area-of-effect, long-range, shield, or buff--each fighter handles quite differently. If you've read the manga that these characters come from, you already have a fairly good idea as to what most of these iconic moves are and how they behave, but you'll still have to practice with each fighter to get a grasp of what every move can do.

Every attack, basic or advanced, can be avoided in some way--whether via blocking, dodging, or countering--so most fights are tense, with each side looking for a way to bait their foe into opening themselves up for attack without putting themselves at a disadvantage. I've had fights where, after 30 seconds of back-and-forth, both sides are one strike away from defeat, and the battle continues for another full minute of counters, perfect dodges, and last-second blocks. It's empowering to finish off your foe with a perfectly executed combo or snag a victory when all hope seems lost. Each win feels like it needs to be earned, and this encourages you to explore the varied movesets of each fighter, experiment in how attacks might be chained together, and deduce your go-to characters' weaknesses in order to avoid defeat.

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This is especially true in regards to the campaign, as you're allowed to customize your character with any four special abilities you want. You can also choose your character's gender, body type, voice, and skin tone, as well as dress them with an assortment of hairstyles, make-up, jewelry, and clothes, allowing you to build your perfect protagonist. Completing campaign missions earns you in-game currency, which you can use to buy new outfits and items. Cosmetics won't affect your character, but it's still fun to put together outfits and it's a welcome distraction when you need a moment to step away from the steep challenge of the late-game battles.

Once you're done with Jump Force's campaign, there's still plenty to do--even if not all of it is worthwhile. Free Missions are the game's version of a challenge mode, but it's not all that different from the handicaps placed on you in late-game story missions. The same can be said for Extra Missions mode, which you can play if you need a little extra in-game cash for that smokin' pair of black pants you've been eyeing for your character or if you want to expand your level cap.

However, a lot of fun can be had in Jump Force's competitive modes. You can play online or off, with both friendly and ranked matches in the former. Online is where your skills will be put to the test, meaning it's also where you'll find the game's best fights. Jump Force also allows you to practice against a computer while you wait for the game to find you an opponent, so you're not just waiting on a loading screen, which is a welcome touch. Ranked Play provides the most challenging combat in Jump Force by far, but earning higher titles--and thus bragging rights--by defeating more skilled opponents is a compelling goal to work towards.

Each win feels like it needs to be earned, and this encourages you to explore the varied movesets of each fighter.

It's awesome to see Jump Force's roster of playable fighters include so many characters from Shonen Jump's history, even the ones from manga that aren't as mainstream but no less important, like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Saint Seiya. That said, there's a disappointing disparity in the number of male and female characters, especially when Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto contribute to nearly half the roster and only have two women between all three of them. Shonen Jump has always been geared towards young boys, but that doesn't mean its manga hasn't had great female fighters. Including Dragon Ball's Piccolo over Android 18 and Naruto's Gaara over both Sakura and Hinata is odd, as is leaving out Black Clover's Noelle, Yu-Gi-Oh's Anzu, My Hero Academia's Uraraka, and Boruto's Sarada.

Jump Force is a worthy celebration of the legacy of Shonen Jump manga, but it honors its source material a little too well with how filler-heavy the middle of its story arc is. However, even if the game rarely provides a clear motivation for stopping evil other than good must always oppose it, the act of stomping out villains in Jump Force's frantic bouts of tag-team arena combat is an enjoyable test of strategy. And with over 40 characters to master, there's ample opportunity to develop new strategies and reach greater feats of combat prowess in online multiplayer.

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The Good
Each character's unique fighting style has been captured
Rock-paper-scissors style of combat is easy to understand and encourages strategic planning during fights
Character customization is fairly robust and fun to do
Fights against equally skilled opponents--both locally and online--are enjoyably tense
The Bad
The story is a rather generic and bland conflict of good vs. evil that drags throughout its second act
Cutscenes aren't great, with little in the way of storytelling or believable character animations
The difference in number of playable female characters in comparison to male is disappointingly large
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Jordan tore himself away from reading Shonen Jump's latest chapter of The Promised Neverland long enough to celebrate the manga magazine's more iconic stories and characters in Jump Force. He spent 28 hours in the game playing on Xbox One X, with other GameSpot staff testing the PC and PS4 versions. Complimentary review code was provided by Bandai Namco.
101 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for zedetach

'The difference between playable female and male characters... ' - God here we go again.. How does that qualify as a con? While you're at it why don't you complain about the lack of colored people in the game? Or transgender for the matter? Gamespot when will you learn that what we want is a proper review and not your political/moral opinions about a game. C'mon man be a little professional.

Avatar image for irishinstigator

@zedetach: I knew it! I knew the moment I saw that in the negative, the first comment I saw would be something like this! Thanks for being so predictable :D

Avatar image for wswedin

@zedetach: More like certain editors/reviewers need to be less opinionated on political issues. Gamers represent a vast range of culture, sexuality, and ethnicity. I agree entirely with your point, but clumping it all together as "Gamespot" is just as bad as what they are doing. There are plenty of reviews that have nothing to do with moral/political ramifications. I will still take this over the paid reviews of IGN and PC Gamer any day... but this reviewer, @jordanramee, needs to be professional about his job. This was not a professional take.

Avatar image for rickjamesia

I just want to know what happened to Arale and Korosensei.

Avatar image for skylander

This is the MOST CASH GRAB game from 2019, the game us that kind of rushed that even the "victory animations" are nowhere to be found and all the animations are doll and bland, the lipsync is horrible and at certain times the games feels empty, the fights are ok with some unbalanced shit here and there, but there's no doubt the game needed more hours of development.....

Avatar image for jimabadon

@skylander: I don't think any more development time would have helped. This has a "failed project" feel to it, like it was better not to be undertaken in the first place. Still, we'll never know for certain.

Avatar image for jimabadon

Seems like Gamespot was generous, from what I've seen in Metacritic the game goes lower. Still, I half-expected Jump Force to turn out mediocre, it was way too ambitious and failing seemed too possible. Either way, I expect it to sell a lot because anime games tend to do that.

Avatar image for kubiksc

Getting over a crush isn't the hardest thing to write, I definitely wouldn't call it a dead end it would of actually made for a lot better character development if Kishimoto had done that, especially when Sasuke literally tries to stab her through the chest with lightning. (even if nartuo still ends with hinata, Sakura should not have been with sasuke). But we do see a lot more of characters like Shikamaru, Gaara, Lee, Neji. these characters all get multiple cool moments throughout the series, and Hinata really doesn't do anything. IDK maybe its because Kishi couldn't decide on a love interest until well into shippuden. I'll compare prices of Jump Force on

Avatar image for lonesamurai00

Well, Unreal Engine games just never perform well on consoles. It's pretty bad according to DF, with framesrates in the twenties on them - ouch!!!

Avatar image for mari3k

No wifus for Jordan .... :-(

Avatar image for nick2ooo

Personally I think there should be an equal number of male, female and transgender characters to choose from. They should be the same shade of beige too to avoid any conflict.

Edit: Also why not have them compliment each other and help each other on tasks instead of fight? Not over compliment however as that can be offensive.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

The game has lackadaisical presentation outside of the fighting gameplay. It's like Spike Chunsoft didn't have time to put in the polish.

Also, Gintoki is not in this one, despite some promo material showing him to be in the game.

Yeah... I get the impression that either Spike Chunsoft did not make it in time, or stuff has been cut away for paid DLC. Possibly both.

Avatar image for Byshop

@Gelugon_baat: I don't really expect a ton from crossover games like this. I'll probably pick it up for the novelty of it, but maybe after it drops in price. Game plus Character Pass packs is running $90+ right now.

Avatar image for USDevilDog

Some people are confusing why some of us want more female fighters in this game. It really has nothing to do with being a SJW. It has to do more about wanting to see some of your favorite major characters who happen to be female. I think this game would have benefited from having just 3 or 4 more staple female characters in the various series. Sakura -- I didn't really care for this character -- was a bigger part of the Naruto series than Gaara. Yoruichi from Bleach would be sick. Nami from One Piece? There seems to be some glaring omissions. That's all I am saying.

Avatar image for supamastergamer

I 've been playing fighting games since Street fighter 2 in the Arcade and I've NEVER IN MY LIFE heard one of my friend not recommend or feel bad about a fighting game because of a lack of female fighters.

Avatar image for CRAPCOM1926

@supamastergamer: How many People played street fighter 2? How many female characters were in SF 2? I close my case

Avatar image for supamastergamer

@CRAPCOM1926: I don't understand your comment...Please explain

Avatar image for CRAPCOM1926

@supamastergamer: If you dont know Street fighter 2 then there is nothing to talk about

Avatar image for supamastergamer

@CRAPCOM1926: Have you read my original comment? Because I don't think you did or if you did not understand it.

Avatar image for jerusaelem

@supamastergamer: "one of my friend"

With feedback, it typically helps to have more than one...

Avatar image for billythebastard

@jerusaelem: no, you're totally right,their point has been made invalid by your keen eye for spelling mistakes. What ever would we do without that biting wit? How ever would anybody have known that you're just so superior to anybody that thinks this was a stupid thing to take points away from the game for?

Avatar image for supamastergamer

@jerusaelem: ah ah ah...really funny

Avatar image for jcwainc

The difference in number of playable female characters in comparison to male is disappointingly large

are u serious. this review is stupid in invalid now. stop wasting our mf time

Avatar image for Mogan

@jcwainc: This is state of American public schools. : (

Avatar image for jcwainc

@Mogan: it's an America game its Japanese. Also in but not exclusively for boys manga magazine. If u want more girls then boys in fighting game play dead or alive or skullgirls

Avatar image for Mogan

@jcwainc: Man. : \

Avatar image for BLKCrystilMage

There are more male than female characters present in a game licensed by a magazine whose comics are aimed at young men? A magazine that has the japanese word for "young men" in the title?


Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide

@BLKCrystilMage: Controversy aside, I'm pretty sure young men would prefer to look at female fighters.

Avatar image for syts

@BLKCrystilMage: To be honest, only female charcter that deserves to be in the game is Kaguya. Rukia and Hancock just occupied a roster spot for the sake of adding girls. They are mostly irrelevant in terms of "fighting" in their respective series.

Avatar image for notserbamma

@syts: Hancock is pretty elite bruh, that bia is like medusa

Avatar image for Lightsyde

@syts: Rukia is irrelevant. Hancock isn't

Avatar image for jerusaelem

@BLKCrystilMage: Yeah, young men being interested in girls/women is patently absurd.

If only there was a western magazine that also had a PLAY on the English word for "young man" that could illustrate that title does not dictate content. BOY that would be something.

Avatar image for billythebastard

@jerusaelem: **** outta here. You want a game with female fighters? Go play DOA 6 when that comes out. I've heard they decided to kill their franchise to appeal to people like you, so go nuts. Enjoy the virtue signalling and the garbage gameplay and try not to get offended when they tell you that Ryu is a straight male, and that their cast of characters isn't 25% LGBTQ.

Avatar image for fedor

@jerusaelem: I feel like you think you made a good point...

Avatar image for BLKCrystilMage

I could say the same about you, chief.

Avatar image for jyml8582

@BLKCrystilMage: pretty sure they’re saving the females for paid dlc.

Avatar image for nsa_protocol44

Jordan, may the wrath of the weebs be upon ye.

"looks at the comment section, it's already started"

Avatar image for inmycontrol

Character rooster is amazing
Regular and special moves are incredible, as well as their personalities

Boruto (but you can just ignore him, so that's fine)
Cinematics are sometimes terrible because dialogs are mostly shown as text
Only one Boku no Hero character (Deku)
Story map couldn't be worse! You cannot expand the map, so basically you have to walk everywhere intending to find the next mission.
After playing the story for few minutes you feel like it's getting repetitive.
Customization (check details below)

Mention to GameSpot's review:
• "Character customization is fairly robust and fun to do"

Customization is not robust as they say! There's NOT a good variety of colors. You have Kuwabara and Android 16 hairs available (although these characters are not in the game), but you don't have the orange hair color. There are 3-4 color options of each costume to choose, but you can't freely change it. Futhermore, some body parts pierce through other body parts. For example, try to use a long hair and Hokage clothes, or Seiya's bronze gloves with Ichigo's Kimono. Clothes should cover these body parts instead of "mixing them" in the most weird way.

• Customization issues should be fixed and expanded (more color options)
• Available hair options could be a good teaser of what's coming up: Kuwabara, Android 16, Gohan, Urahara Kisuke, Shunsui Kyoraku, Rock Lee, Shikamaru, Aokiji and Marco Phoenix.

Still, I don't think this game is competitive enough to hold players until the new DLC arrives. I am a huge fan of animes and I loved to see 90% of those characters, but this is the type of game that will stay in my library for a week, unfortunately.

Avatar image for Dualmask

Unskippable cut scenes and a lack of female characters? Sounds like a pass to me.

Avatar image for billythebastard

@Dualmask: Good, we don't want annoying SJWs in our community.

Avatar image for Lord_Sesshy

@billythebastard: Maybe some people just want to see more of their favorite female characters?

Why is it that every time someone mentions females in any contexts you hear "SJW". It's not even a bad term. You should want equality for everyone. We're all human beings.

Avatar image for Dualmask

@billythebastard: if you think I'm an SJW you might need to revisit your understanding of the term. Try not to be such a limited thinker.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide

@Dualmask: SJW is just a blanket term thrown around with all the limp power of a racial slur.

Avatar image for Dualmask

@Bread_or_Decide: and overused and misused just as much. And like a racial slur, I don't allow it to have any power over me. Simpletons tossing that term around in some attempt to attack me are punching way above their weight class.

Avatar image for billythebastard

@Dualmask: If you're unironically saying you won't play a game because there aren't enough women in it, you're an SJW. Full stop.

Avatar image for Dualmask

@billythebastard: right, because wanting more T&A in a video game is classic SJW behavior. *Sigh*

But I guess that's what is to be expected from a basic individual who simply thinks in flavor of the month terms they barely understand.

Avatar image for videogameninja

Still slugging away at Dragon Ball FighterZ between other games that are taking all my time away but Jumpforce is something anime fans all around are going to want to take notice of.

After all, who doesn’t want to see Goku, Jotaro, Vegeta, Naruto, and a whole host of others battling it out on the same screen?

The better question however will be whether or not gamers have the time thanks to the bevy of great games already out/coming out.


Jump Force More Info

  • First Released Feb 12, 2019
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Average Rating13 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Jump Force
    Developed by:
    Spike Chunsoft
    Published by:
    Bandai Namco Games
    3D, Fighting, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence