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Game review: ‘Jump Force’ brings together manga’s biggest names

Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, May 29, 2019  /  06:29 pm
Game review: ‘Jump Force’ brings together manga’s biggest names

Big names: 'Jump Force' features many famous names from the world of Japanese comics but that does not make up for the lackluster gameplay. (Courtesy of Bandai Namco/-)

Jump Force is a game that celebrates the 50 year anniversary of Weekly Shōnen Jump – an immeasurably influential magazine focused on Japanese comic manga that bred now-legendary titles such as Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star, One Piece, Naruto and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure – just to name a few.

So it's a shame the end result is an experience that feels lacking in every direction. Bland and unoriginal, Jump Force is a waste of its exciting cast of legendary comic characters.

A one-versus-one with elements of a group brawler akin to the successful Super Smash Bros series, Jump Force serves up a whopping 42 characters (40 known ones from various manga titles and two originals made for the game) with 9 more coming in the downloadable content (DLC).

Safe to say that most players, who are likely manga fans, will find some of their favorites there even if issues of character inclusion and exclusion is part of the course among the fan-base.

Pick me: 'Jump Force' features an exciting cast of legendary comic characters. Pick me: 'Jump Force' features an exciting cast of legendary comic characters. (Courtesy of Bandai Namco/-)

The large cast of characters puts forth the game's first obvious flaw, however. While they all obviously have different special attacks, the execution is all so simplistically similar that aside from the cosmetic difference – it feels like you are playing the same character pretty much every time, regardless of who you picked.

The plain control scheme may be a way to get manga fans who aren't gamers into the foray, but the button mashing rarely goes beyond putting your fingers down the light or heavy attack buttons repeatedly or even randomly with the hope of winning.

This maddeningly oversimplified approach extends to special attacks which are, again, triggered all through a similar-scheme of button mashing (instead of a combination of button and directional button moves like most fighting games).

Level up: The game offers player opportunities to customize characters through the points earned.Level up: The game offers player opportunities to customize characters through the points earned. (Courtesy of Bandai Namco/-)

This feels like a waste when you have characters as disparate as the super-powered half-alien hero Son Goku from Dragon Ball and the tragic samurai Himura Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin.

Attempts at projecting character individuality are done through animation scenes, which occurs during fights when special attacks are executed. Pulling these iconic attacks together is undoubtedly a cool draw for longtime fans of the comics, and managing Dragon Ball's “Kamehame” or Naruto's “Rasengan” is always exciting to experience.

But they too feel slapdash and certainly far less exciting than watching the anime or reading the manga.

Bring it on: The fighting style feels pretty much the same throughout the game.Bring it on: The fighting style feels pretty much the same throughout the game. (Courtesy of Bandai Namco/-)

After the same cut-scene happens a few times to your character during these special moves, it ends up being something that feels more like an unnecessary momentum breaker rather than a colorful element.

It also doesn't help that in the split seconds that some of the cut scenes happen, you will lose sight of where your opponent is. The camera angles are hyper-kinetic, which isn't rare to the genre, but feels additionally confusing to follow here.

To tie all these fighting elements together, the game comes up with a forgettable story involving the merging of the JUMP universe with ours, unleashing the comics' villain characters onto Earth. In response, the earth decides that instead, it will counter by bringing to life the good JUMP characters.

Players create a character basically based on the JUMP comics’ roster and decide which manga's fighting style you'd like to take from. As the fighting style feels pretty much the same throughout, this all ends up feeling ultimately inconsequential.

Throughout there are opportunities to customize your character through the points you earn, both in appearance and skills. Most of these are superfluous but sometimes they present niche goodies that hardcore manga fans may appreciate.

The physical appearance of the characters is something that cannot be overlooked. The 3D approach has always been an awkward fit with manga characters, and the way the game tries to make them all feel physically fitting with each other is a major flaw. The result are character models that look very little like their source material and more like stop-motion models of toys based on the actual characters. 

The story offers very little beyond clumsy dialog and cut scenes (and the character design looks most uncomfortable during these moments too).

But its biggest sin is in how dull the game feels to experience. Redundancy creeps up fast, with fights and tasks that all feel the same from one another.

There are no dynamics to the narrative nor the gameplay. Considering the sheer number of iconic manga characters here, that feels like a big miss.

Jump Force does not at all feel like a “force”, instead it wastes these characters' legacy for something that feels like an utter cash grab. (ste)

 

 

Jump Force

Developer: SPIKE CHUNSOFT

Series: Shōnen Jump

Engine: Unreal Engine

Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

 

 

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