I used to be a huge fighting game fan back in the day. Back in the hallowed days of yore when physical arcades were still relatively popular, and I’d meet up with some friends after making a quick trip to the change machine in order to magically transform dollars into handfuls of quarters. I was also a fan of manga, and could regularly be found in Japanese book stores, rifling through them voraciously (I’ll get back to this last part in a sec) for my latest manga fix.
As far as fighting games go, some of the most impressive ones that I played back then were produced by SNK. Among them were the Fatal Fury, Samurai Spirits, and many other series. So, it was no surprise when the King of Fighters franchise kicked off, and combined the most popular fighting characters from among their various fighting series, into one epic match up.
The original King of Fighters games went on to spawn many sequels, but over time it seemed that the character designs became more and more bizarre until I simply lost interest in the series as a whole. I’m just not a fan of playing as little pink-haired 90-lb. chicks nor drugged out-looking, skinny jean soyboys.
More recently, when Bandai Namco announced that they were developing a fighting game called Jump Force that was based on fifty years of Shonen Jump manga, I was pretty elated. Jump Force sought to combine many of the most popular characters from their various manga IPs, and coral them into a grand fighting tournament. Being the typical fighting game, there was zero backstory for how this happened, but who cares anyway, let’s just get it on…
Jump Force pulls some pretty cool characters from Shonen Jump’s Naruto, Dragon Ball, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and my personal favorite: Fist of the North Star franchises. With this sort of blue chip setup, it seemed like a sure thing. Not to mention the outstanding trailers, which showed some seriously badass fighting action that looked like it could have been ripped straight out of an action-packed anime.
In reality, after playing Jump Force for about ten or fifteen minutes, I realized that there wasn’t much to its fighting system. This took me aback. Bandai Namco puts out the Tekken series, which possesses some of the most elaborate mechanics of any fighting games on the market. Jump Force seemed almost like a simplified version of the original Virtua Fighter by way of comparison.
Basically, Jump Force is a 3v3 arena brawler where you have light and heavy attacks, and you can also dodge and throw opponents. If you mash your character’s light and heavy attack buttons in succession long enough, you’re fill up your special attack meter. When that meter is full, you can execute their super-duper power move which is admittedly impressive since it lights up your entire screen with all kinds of dazzling effects.
Sadly, although there are a good number of characters on offer, most of their attacks are very same-y. Yeah, they might look slightly different as they go through their combo routines, but the moves themselves have the same results. They also look stiffened-up as If caught in a freeze frame.
The caveat here is that hardcore fans of the source material may well indeed be entertained enough by the canned combos and flashy-fied fisticuffs. The sounds are also impressively done, and augments all of the gaudy displays of power on hand. Meanwhile, characters like Ken from Fist of the Northstar sound just as they should, and reminded me of the stellar voice acting from each of their respective anime iterations.
But maybe I’m just a little spoiled or something. I mean, by the ninth or tenth time I saw each character’s over-the-top combos and special move, I was pretty much jaded to the whole affair. Jump Force sort of reminded me of games like Injustice 2 and the Mortal Kombat series; impressive when you first behold them, but soon you realize that they’re just elaborately disguised, one-trick ponies.
Overall, I think Jump Force has the potential to “wow” a lot of gamers out there—basically pre-teens and younger, as well as those whose folks out there whose lives revolve around Shonen Jump source material. However, those looking for a little more depth will probably want to look elsewhere.
Jump Force features great graphics that make its fighting gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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