For ages, anime and manga fans have yearned for the wide release of a crossover game that would bring together much-loved anime characters in one epic game. In 2018, Weekly Shonen Jump answered those calls by releasing Jump Force, a highly anticipated fighting game that brought together many recognizable Shonen Jump characters from Dragon Ball to Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
Prior to its release, Jump Force generated a lot of buzz as fans hoped it would be on a level similar to Super Smash Bros Ultimate or even the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Avengers. Unfortunately, the game did not live up to its immense hype, going on to underperform in Japan as well as overseas and garnering mixed reviews in the process. Let's take a look as to how such a high-profile game became a flop.
Jump Force is a crossover fighting game released in celebration of Shonen Jump's 50th anniversary, developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It features over 40 characters from 16 popular series including Rurouni Kenshin, Hunter x Hunter, One Piece, My Hero Academia, etc. with original characters designed by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. The game is currently available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and more recently Nintendo Switch.
By far one of the biggest complaints of the game is the story. It's pretty straightforward, having the player constantly fight against clones and mindless creatures called "Venoms" with most of the antagonists being original characters with predictable motivations. In fact, the depth to most of the recognizable Shonen Jump characters is pretty shallow in comparison to their respective manga and anime counterparts -- each one is reduced to the bare bones. While the most fleshed out character in the game ended up being Light Yagami from Death Note, unfortunately neither he nor Ryuk are playable characters. Overall the story is generic with more filler missions than actual story content, failing to utilize its array of interesting characters.
In addition to the lackluster story, Jump Force suffered issues in other areas. Another common complaint is with the game's art style. Many of the models feel stiff in their design and movement and feel very incomplete, making for some oddly animated cut scenes. Several mechanics were fixed over time, but many bugs still remain in the game that can cause lagging and other errors. While the gameplay can be entertaining, spam attacks are encouraged and escaping combos is a thing, which sometimes makes for unfair battles.
Despite its flaws, Jump Force does have its merits. The visual effects are stunning and there are many cool combos to discover. The sound design during gameplay is incredible and adds to the force of the unleashed attacks. It's also fascinating to watch the character interactions like Naruto taking a liking to Asta because he's similar to Rock Lee, Goku comparing Bakugo to Vegeta and the swordsmen (Asta, Zoro, Ichigo and Trunks) asking Kenshin for advice after seeing him fight. In addition to being a solo player game, there is an online community option enabling for ranked, friendly and quick matches with other local players.
While Jump Force isn't the best anime video game out there, it isn't the worst either. The immense hype and high expectations set it up to be a disappointment if it was anything less than spectacular. Nevertheless, the game wasn't very well put-together with its many issues. And despite its roster of beloved characters (which is definitely its strongest point), the game doesn't do anything unique to stand out, leaving many disappointed and believing the game to be wasted potential. Now that the hype has died down, if you're not looking for a competitive fighting game but a casual brawl, then Jump Force may still be worth checking out. If not, there are plenty of other anime games worth your time.