Jojo’s Unremarkable Adventure

HIGH Kenshiro!

LOW Bland fighting, bland visuals, bland storytelling.

WTF Linkin Park/Naruto mashups from 2007 are more interesting.

I’m no expert on anime, but I have enjoyed many TV shows and films ranging from esteemed classics like Cowboy Bebop to new shonen masterpieces such as My Hero Academia. I also grew up with unrestricted internet access and a cousin who was obsessed with Naruto and Dragon Ball Z, so I feel like I know a fair amount on the subject.

I say all this because anime and manga fans who are more steeped in the content than I am may get more mileage out of Jump Force than I did, but this 3D arena fighter that brings together characters from the long-running Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine just didn’t translate into a good game.

Starting with the positive, I love the roster diversity. Seeing all the amazing fighters gathered from fifty years of manga history is impressive. Faces from series like the aforementioned Dragon Ball, Naruto and My Hero are present, as well as characters from Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and plenty of others. Hell, even Yu-Gi-Oh! is represented here, and it filled my cold heart with nostalgic joy. Of course, I have to call special attention to Fist of the North Star’s Kenshiro — another highlight for me.

Players select a team of three from this diverse roster, and can switch between them while fighting. Each character has a light and heavy attack, and a variety of super moves that burn a meter.

Combat looks good in motion, even with the lowered resolution of the Switch in handheld mode, and it’s cool selecting a team that mixes and matches different characters from different places — my main rotation featured Kenshiro, Piccolo and Yusuke Urameshi. Unfortunately, the fighting is pretty shallow, and in a fighting game, this is a fatal flaw.

Matches rely on button-mashing, more like a 3D brawler than it is a proper fighting game. Matches against AI can be won by simply spamming a few attacks, and there’s little strategy to be seen (or needed.) During combos, characters start zooming around the screen and it feels like the match starts running on autopilot. The short bursts of joy I had from seeing Kakashi from Naruto beating up Luffy from One Piece faded from how boring the fights were.

Besides the mash-happy fighting, play happens in large arenas and players have the freedom to traverse a large, open area as they fight. Unfortunately, the camera can be a mess as it struggles to properly focus on the action. Even worse are the performance issues on Switch, with characters looking blurry on the selection screen and significant framerate drops cropping up during matches. Also, cutscenes run at a low framerate, making it look like an awful slideshow.

Of course, the main selling point of Jump Force is the crossover aspect. This culminates in a story mode in which players control a custom character as they help famous characters fight evil forces that invade both the “real world” and various anime worlds. It’s a basic “good vs evil” storyline that fits the mold of many shonen anime, but never gives the cast a chance to showcase anything special. Also, the cutscenes don’t even look appealing thanks to the strange art style Jump Force went with — characters look like they do in their respective manga/anime, but also a little hyper-realistic in bizarre ways.

Overall, Jump Force feels less like a celebration of beloved anime franchises and more like a half-assed attempt to cash in with the widest fanbase possible. With other great crossover fighters like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Injustice 2 out there, it’s hard not to think that these iconic characters deserved better.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published by Bandai Namco and developed by Spike Chunsoft. The Deluxe Edition is available for Switch, while the standard is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. This copy of the game was provided by the publisher and reviewed on Switch. 10 hours of play were spent in singleplayer with a combination of story mode and offline fights played. 2 hours were spent in the online modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T for Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, and Violence. The official ESRB description reads as follows: “This is a fighting game in which players compete in 3-on-3 matches with characters featured in the Shonen Jump Magazine series. Players use punches, kicks, and special attacks (e.g., fireballs, laser blasts, rush attacks) to drain opponents’ life meters in arena-based combat. A handful of characters use swords, machine guns, and bazookas to inflict damage against opponents. Battles are accompanied by colorful light effects, cries of pain, and large explosions. Small drips of blood can appear on characters’ bodies and faces as they are damaged in combat. Some characters wear outfits that expose large amounts of cleavage; portions of female characters’ clothing may rip off during matches. Dialogue also references suggestive material (e.g., “Get a load of this package. You like what you see?”).”

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are subtitles, though the size cannot be adjusted. All of the dialogue has accompanying subtitles or text boxes. No audio cues are required for play. The game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable and there is no control diagram. There is a tutorial that explains how the face buttons are used to attack, jump and grab opponents while the triggers and bumpers are used for assist moves, super moves and blocking. The y-axis can be changed.

Cj Salcedo
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