Weekly Shonen Jump magazine has graced readers in Japan and all over the world for over 50 years, introducing manga fans to iconic characters, stories, and power-ups. With so many muscle-brained heroes and crazy over the top action stories, combining all these characters together would seem like a no-brainer for an action heavy fighting game. Jump Force Deluxe Edition attempts to bring together all of the wonderful characters you’ve come to love, like Luffy, Goku, and Naruto for a fighting game that unfortunately misses the mark of what it could have been, ultimately resulting in a lackluster 3D anime fighter that feels less than the sum of its parts.
The game takes place in a world where manga characters and settings have collided with the world we live in. You take control of an unnamed person who is a victim of Dragon Ball’s villain, Frieza, and reborn into a hero. Here you can customize your character to look and fight however you want, utilizing the signature attacks of the Jump heroes you meet along the way.
Recruited by Trunks, also from the Dragon Ball series, you are brought back to the Jump Force base of operations where you learn that mysterious villains are using peculiar black cubes to control other manga heroes to destroy the earth and you’re the only one who can save the turned comrades. The plot doesn’t make sense and I wish I didn’t have to play it, but that was the only way to unlock all of the characters.
Having watched and read a majority of the anime and manga represented in the game I really wanted to like Jump Force and was hoping for some meaningful interactions between characters from different universes. Unfortunately I found that the majority of the story is made up of unvoiced text boxes with stiff, plastic looking character models talking to each other without their lips even moving.
Most of your time in the story mode is spent going on missions to fight possessed heroes and recruiting them to the Jump Force. It’s about as boring as it sounds. Also you will need to grind your skills and stats in order to progress through the game so be prepared to set aside time to go on Free Missions in between the Key Missions. Honestly the game probably didn’t need a story. It could have worked as just a fighting game, considering how much, or how little, effort went into it.
At least there are plenty of heroes and villains to play as, after unlocking them of course. From Yugi Muto to Yusuke Uramashi, Jump Force has plenty of variety in terms of characters and choosing your favorite three-person team. The attacks and move sets each character uses are taken directly from the manga they come from, which was great to see in huge battles. If you’ve ever wanted to see who would win in a fight between your two favorite anime heroes, Jump Force lets you live out your wildest anime fever dream.
The combat itself is similar to the Naruto Ninja Storm games so if you have played any of those it will be an easy transition for you. Playing the game with my roommate for some 1V1 was a nice break from the story.
To do anything in the game you must go to the Jump Force base and speak to NPCs to access online or offline battles. The base is way too big with too little inside it to warrant it being that size. If you’re playing online expect the framerate to consistently skip while walking around the base. I also noticed some framerate skips while not online and during offline battles while docked and in handheld. This is obviously not great for a fighting game as every frame is vital to ensure you aren’t getting your butt handed to you by the NPC.
The art style on the other hand is love or hate. I definitely lean more towards the hate side of the spectrum. The heroes of Jump Force hail from Japanese comics, which are cartoony 2D based mediums, but Jump Force translates this into a realistic 3D setting that just doesn’t work well with all of the clashing art styles. It’s a strange design choice considering 2018’s Dragon Ball FighterZ and the Naruto Ninja Storm series are both so highly regarded for how closely they resemble their respected anime and manga series. This turns heroes like Luffy and Goku into looking like terrifying wax models of their real selves.
As stated earlier, the game does not run too well on the Switch. When I played in handheld mode I noticed that the picture looks blurry or out of focus. I thought playing the game on my TV would fix that but it didn’t really help all that much. The Switch version is definitely not the prettiest one out there and even if you just want to play it on the go you’ll notice a downgrade.
At least the voice actors of the characters from their respective animes are here to lend their talents in the game. Sadly the voiced dialogue is far and few between the voiceless text boxes you’ll be clicking through. Don’t expect there to be any music from the cartoons either, which is a crying shame considering how iconic their soundtracks are for Shonen Jump fans.
Jump Force is a game that I purposely skipped out on when it launched last year for other systems because it didn’t seem like a game that I would enjoy, even as big of an anime fan that I am, and not much has changed upon playing it. The Deluxe Edition adds a few new characters, but it doesn’t change the fact that the game is a clunky mess that simply does not play or look well on the Switch. Despite this there were a few random moments when I got to live out my dream of seeing Jotaro Kujo fight and win against Goku.
Jump Force Deluxe Review
- Graphics - 5/105/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 5/105/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
This is not the anime game that you’re looking for. You might be tempted to play it just to fight as your favorite manga hero, but chances are you’ll just ultimately end up as disappointed as I was. With performance issues, lack of quality audio visual presentation, and a bunch of grinding to unlock characters, this fighting game leaves much to be desired.