Jump Force was first announced during the Xbox Conference at E3 2018, and the hype for it hasn’t calmed down since. The prospect of a video game including all of your favorite Shonen Jump characters in a fighting game was very tantalizing to say the least. We had a game similar to this called J-Stars Victory VS a few years ago, but it had so many issues and didn’t really connect with fans the way Jump Force has.
The game has been scheduled for release in February 2019, but a couple of lucky people (myself included) had the chance to take part in the first closed beta for the title.
The first thing that came to mind when I got my hands on this title was that it played very similarly to the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm fighting series. They both share the same 3D fighting style, and the attacks and functionality of the move-sets are similar to an extent. While the Storm series was developed by CyberConnect2 and Jump Force is developed by Spike Chunsoft, they share a publisher in Bandai Namco Entertainment, which surely played a part in that stylistic decision.
The beta starts with you at a screen where you choose one of six pre-created avatars – two in the vein of DBZ characters, two for One Piece, and two for Naruto. It had been previously revealed that character creation would be implemented here, but they didn’t allow you to get wild with it the first beta.
As soon as you pick your avatar, you’re taken to what looks to be the main hub of the game. This area is used to set up online matches, choose story missions, and also purchase things from the shops (the matchmaking was the only thing available during the beta).
The hub world looked very detailed and if you explore around, you’ll notice familiar faces scattered around the area. You can start conversations with Naruto, Luffy, Gon, and more. That was definitely something cool to see! One thing that I noticed while running through with my avatar was that the hub is very laggy, and the running animation looked a little wonky. But that’s why we have betas, right?
Now, onto the actual gameplay. In the beta, you can choose to either play against the computer, or you can hop right into online matches. I didn’t want to get spanked too bad the first time, so I decided to try my chance against the computer (later on, I still ended up losing most of the online matches, shocking no one). The character selection was limited here, but you still had plenty of options. You could choose to play as your avatar, but why on earth would you do that when you could make a team of Naruto, Gon and Luffy?
As I previously stated, the gameplay is similar to Storm. The attacks and combos aren’t hard to accomplish, and there’s a small learning curve to it. Certain attacks can’t be blocked at all and personally, I’m not sure how I feel about those just yet. However, for the most part, you can pick up on the fighting styles and get used to the close-range, mid-range, and long-range attacks of each character.
My only concern about the title is that the fighting got stale pretty fast. It could just be me, but I was expecting a more intricate fighting mechanic with the game. Not that I’d be any good with it, but I would like to have to do more than just hold a trigger and press a button.
Overall, the gaming experience was very fun. The main draw here is the nostalgia and ability to cross your favorite characters with one another. This was the first time I got my hands on it; so, hopefully with time, any minor issues I had with it are tweaked and they find a way to make it more engaging for a longer period of time.
Jump Force is set to release in February 2019 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows.
*If I get the chance to play any future betas, this article will be updated to reflect any significant changes.*