This week I was lucky enough to be invited to Bandai Namco’s London Headquarters where I had the chance to play the launch build of the upcoming Shonen cross over beat-em-up, Jump Force.
Right from the very beginning, I quickly learned that if you come in unprepared, you won’t have much luck. But once I got the hang of switching out characters, charging, and dodging, the controls became intuitive enough to have me shifting from one character to another, taking advantage of each fighting style’s weakness and strengths.
The gameplay mechanics in Jump Force are vastly dissimilar to other games in the genre. Jump Force is much less Tekken or Street Fighter, and more like a and one on one Dynasty Warriors or a larger scale Soul Caliber, focussing less on directional inputs and more about well-timed button presses which ultimately build to super moves and Awakened Attacks.
Awakened Attacks in Jump Force take a little getting used to, too. First, you build up a power meter to the maximum five levels, and then after pressing the correct button combo your character will transform into their ultimate form and perform an Awakened Attack. Out of all the Awakened Attacks I got to see my favorites included Yugi’s Slifer the Sky Drago,n a particularly spectacular special move, while Dai’s anger builds as he fights and he calls upon his great rage to berserker punch in his special.
One of the main features of this preview was being able to get hands-on with all of the game’s starting roster. Including your player created character that can use moves from all of the other Shōnen Jump characters, there are 49 Characters to select from originating from 50 years worth of source material. No confirmation of who as of yet, but there are nine fan-favorite DLC characters on the way too.
One thing that stood out the most, however, was that Jump Force’s starting roster features three female characters – that’s one team’s worth. They are so rare that if you make an all-female character team and go up against One Piece’s Sanji, his eyes will turn into hearts the whole match as he pervs on your trio of lady fighters.
As well as being able to choose from more characters than I could shake a stick at, I had an opportunity to play on all of the Fifteen stages: San Francisco, New Zealand, Namek (DBZ), Hidden Leaf Village (Naruto), Mairineford (One Piece), Umbras, Training Area, Matterhorn, New York, Hong Kong, Paris, Mexico, Japan. These are all cool, right? But where’s my London location?
It is a delight to see a realistically rendered Cell and Frieza walking through a semi-realistic Hong Kong and Paris. Hong Kong is my current favorite with rain-soaked streets filled with puddles that reflect hazy neon lights up, and characters are even more glossy and wet-looking than usual. As each fight develops, a character’s costumes and bodies become dirty and damaged; Cell’s caprice is chipped and cracked, Yugi’s cape is knocked off from his pompous shoulders while Seiya’s armor is shattered.
City Hunter’s Ryo Saeba was my favorite to play with as his no-nonsense personality and move set him apart from the other characters. While also still fitting in with the game’s world perfectly he also accurately nods back to the anime and comic book he originates from. Ryo uses his tactile fighting style made up of earthbound guns, explosive barrels and cars. It is a delight to see planet destroying celestial beings given their dues by the closest thing to a regular guy.
If you are familiar with one of the many properties featured each character’s move set should be familiar and somewhat nostalgic, but this also inversely applies to a character that you are perhaps unfamiliar with. A feature that I did not get to experience, but was told will be available in the full version was Character encyclopedia this would hopefully help fill those gaps in my otaku knowledge. I can not wait to pour over the histories for each character and fill up my watch list with a lifetimes worth of animes.
I have much the same problem with Jump Force as I do with most other three on three fighters, such as King Of Fighters, which is that the roster gets seen very quickly which often doesn’t allow for newcomers to focus on other characters, leading to confusion. I hope that Bandai Namco takes a leaf out of Dragon Ball FighterZ’s book and we will get a future update providing one on one fights to allow for more focused gameplay. That being said, this play session focused on Jump Force’s Versus Mode with all the characters unlocked, so maybe there is a mode for one-on-one fights.
The best thing about Jump Force is it makes you want to go back and watch all the old anime and read up on all the characters after playing. Shuffle your decks, charge your Kamehameha, and polish your armor as Jump Force will be launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on February 15, 2019.