Shonen Jump, the most popular boys’ manga publisher, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In conjunction with this, Bandai Namco announced a new crossover game called Jump Force. Bringing what are arguably the most popular characters in all of Japanese pop culture into a single team-based brawler.
The premise of the story is simple enough. A mysterious incident has sent the multiple Shonen Jump universes crashing into the real world. Sending characters like Goku, Naruto, and Monkey D. Luffy into our very own universe. As a result, these heroes must join together and form the Jump Force in order to defeat their respective antagonists; and also to figure out what really happened.
Thus far, we’ve only seen two maps and six characters (including Sasuke, Zoro, and Frieza). A seventh character in Death Note’s Light Yagami has been revealed, but no gameplay has been shown.
For the most part, the ideas kind of fit together. The power levels of each character has been necessarily scaled to fit in with their counterparts. Preventing ridiculous outcomes like anyone actually being capable of beating Frieza and a Super Saiyan Goku; seeing that both these characters have blown up entire planets.
I am somewhat hesitant to comment too much on the experience of playing the Jump Force demo at E3. Seeing that the build is clearly incomplete. It was also running on an Xbox One, further removing me from my usual point of reference. For the most part, the game itself felt somewhat unintuitive; requiring a lot more practice and careful study than a short 5 minute demo could possibly provide.
The game also felt a little sluggish thanks to it being capped at 30fps on consoles. Although there is still time for Bandai Namco to change its mind.
That said, it showed some level of competence. Bandai Namco has had plenty of experience building these sorts of games; and anyone who has played the recent Naruto and One Piece games will be familiar with how it goes. Players form teams of three fighters, and are able to freely tag fighters in and out of the battle.
This is likely being designed to an extremely casual style fighting game; with Bandai Namco not being too worried about game balance. Something evident from the fact that not all characters have access to a super-mode; give them access to an additional super-move. For instance, Naruto can activate his Kyuubi form; while Luffy can activate his Gear Fourth.
From what I can see, this is a game for the fans. It’s meant to please one demographic: people who read Shonen Jump magazine. At that, it might be all it needs to be a successful title. All Bandai Namco needs to do now is spend the next six months polishing the gameplay.