Jump Force review: Hands-on
Microsoft’s E3 2018 conference boasted a few great surprises, but one of the biggest reactions of the night went to the reveal of Jump Force, a new fighting game from Bandai Namco that pits characters from some of the most popular manga and anime series of all time up against each other.
We got the chance to test Jump Force out at E3 2018, and found out for ourselves who would win in fight between Goku, Naruto, and Monkey D. Luffy.
Jump Force release date and platforms
First up, you can look forward to the game coming out some time in 2019 - though we don’t know exactly when yet. Whenever it finally arrives, it will come out on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
If you know you're definitely going to buy the game, you can already pre-order if from Amazon in the UK or the US. If you're in the UK you might be alarmed by the £69.99 pricepoint on Amazon (at the time of writing) - but since it also lists a release date of 2030, it's probably fair to say that's a placeholder. And with Amazon's pre-order price guarantee, even if you pre-order now you'll only pay whatever they eventually lower the price to - probably around £49.99.
Jump Force preview
Jump Force is a 3v3 arena fighting game that’s essentially designed to settle every single anime-inspired playground ‘what if…’ argument you’ve ever had. Could Goku beat Luffy? Would Naruto thrash Frieza?
You build a team out of characters from the assorted manga series: Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and One Piece characters all feature in the E3 demo, but the reveal trailer also teased Death Note, and more series are undoubtedly yet to be announced. For now though, the playable characters are Goku, Frieza, Naruto, Sasuke, Luffy, and Zoro.
The uniting factor is that they’re all manga that were published in Shonen Jump, an ongoing Japanese magazine, so look to there to think what other franchises might be added: think Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hunter x Hunter, and similar.
Combat follows the simple, newbie-friendly style of Dragon Ball FighterZ, with simple combos and quick access to some powerful moves: just hold the right trigger and hit a face button to pull off a move like Goku’s Kamehameha, blasting your opponent from across the stage.
Fill up your power bar and you can activate a super form - again, for Goku, think Super Saiyan, which gives you quick access to your ultimate super move. It’s all very easy to get to grips with, though from the demo at least it’s not clear if there’s the strategic depth that the game will need to take off as an esport.
Combat also felt strangely weightless. You zip round the expansive, empty stages and fling blows at each other, but there’s so little sense of impact - visual or otherwise - that in my first fight I wasn’t even sure if I was successfully landing hits or not.
Movement is totally free in the 3D arena, which keeps fights feeling fluid and dynamic, but the game seems to lock you on when you fire off a special attack - or maybe just corrects your aim as long as you’re in roughly the right direction - which means big attacks are forgiving rather than fiddly.
As for those stages, they’re oddly based on real world locations, rather than settings from the series themselves, which feels like a slightly missed opportunity. Instead of running Goku around Naruto’s ninja village or Luffy’s pirate ship, right now you fight in stages based on New York’s Times Square or the Matterhorn. Both feature vivid backdrops, but the arenas themselves are sparse and empty: this is about your fight, with no distractions.
SHOULD I BUY JUMP FORCE?
From a first play then, Jump Force doesn’t seem to quite live up to the lunatic potential of its giddy reveal trailer. It’s absolutely joyous thrashingFrieza with Naruto’s Nine-Tails, as you’d expect, but the game that builds up to those manic mega attacks isn’t quite there yet.
Still, Bandai Namco has plenty of time to lock it down. If it can tighten up the fighting in line the superb FighterZ, liven up the stages, and bring in a few more of our favourite Shonen Jump series, this could be one of 2019’s highlights.