Announced at E3 during Microsoft’s presentation, Jump Force is a fighting game featuring characters from various Shonen Jump series. At present the only playable characters we know are: Goku and Frieza from Dragon Ball; Naruto and Sasuke from Naruto; Luffy and Zoro from One Piece. Light and Ryuk from Death Note are also involved but it has been confirmed they will not be playable, only serving a role in the story.
During E3 we were treated to a theatrical trailer and some gameplay footage. The story of the game is about our world clashing with the world of Shonen Jump, thus the heroes must band together to not only figure out what is happening but take down their villains counterparts. Reflecting this the fighting stages are confirmed to be real life places which have a combination with Shonen Jump such as Times Square having the World Tree from Naruto. I reckon the way Light and Ryuk are shown at the end of the trailer, they are likely to be involved in why the two worlds are colliding. I wouldn’t be surprised, this is Light after all!
Moving to the gameplay, this has shown us 1 on 1 fighting. However, each side has up to 3 fighters and a player can switch between them when they desire (and in the process you can do a tag team combo). Yet they all share the same health bar. So the aim is to whittle down your opponent’s health bar until there is none left over knocking out every fighter! Further to this, each character has their own unique fighting style, designed to how they are presented in their respected series. This includes an awakened state, where characters may transform (such as Goku turning Super Saiyan). Of course, not all characters have a transformation in Jump, so they will most likely get an awakening boost state to make it fair.
So that’s what we know, but what more can we expect?
Some of you may know this is not the first Shonen Jump collaboration fighting game (despite it strangely being advertised that way). In the west, we got J-Stars Victory+ (released on PS3, PS4, and PSVita) but even that game is not the first! It started back on the Famicon with 2 games simply called Jump Famicon. Then there was Battle Stadium D.O.N. (PS2), which only featured; Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto. Lastly, there were two Jump Super Stars on DS. It is interesting these games are not directly linked in name but is a long-running game series. Based on what I saw, I would say this looks directly like an up-scaled and improved J-Stars Victory+. However, there are already two critical differences so far which makes me wonder if those features are returning.
First, you only controlled one fighter in Victory, but the fights were up to 3 v 3 at the same time. Where it was fun, it could be chaotic and a pain to do competitively. The stages were also larger to accommodate all 6 fighters at the same time. Yet it seems with Jump Force they are changing this for fighting 1 v 1, yet you still keep the team of 3 but they just fight one at a time. I also noticed the stages are smaller, which would make sense to avoid fights being needlessly drawn out and people just running away. They also seem simplified, again this would support the new 1 v 1, but they have seemingly added special stage attacks so if you manage to knock your opponent to a specific part of the stage you can deal some extra damage. It will be interesting to see if the 3 v 3 format returns as an alternate mode but I have a feeling it won’t.
Secondly, there seemed to be lack of support characters in the demo shown at E3. This could have just been because they haven’t finished programming this or simply just did not want to show it just yet. Still, I do wonder if they will choose to bring it back as the feel of this game seems to be more serious. The support characters could be summoned to either provide an attack or give some sort of stat boost. In the last version, a support character could be any of the playable characters or even some extra ones who were only supported. This is a good way to include more series and characters who are not fighting based. Particularly as they were included in the introduction scenes of each fight which made them feel just as involved. It is completely possible this is where Light and Ryuk come in as they aren’t playable, but could be support characters. This one we will have to wait and see for further information. I do hope they return as it is a nice game mechanic but may be confusing with the 3 different fighters you already control.
Compared to the previous versions, Jump Force already seems to be more story driven than the previous versions. Indeed there has been story modes, but it is more of a case it was just put in there to extend the game. At their heart, they are just fighting games. J-Stars Victory+ for example does have a story mode where you pick one of three teams and you navigate through a combined Jump world, interacting with other heroes and such. This also had visual novel style cut-scenes which I loved as it was great seeing characters from different series interacting. However, it’s a safe bet to predict that Jump Force will have proper animated scenes which will be even cooler when the different characters interact.
From what we have been shown, it is already clear the creators are going to go all out on this one. Which has got to mean a bigger rooster than J-Stars Victory+. It will hopefully be a case of more series and also more characters from each series. Plus there have been plenty of newer series that are likely to join the fray. For instance, we have Black Clover, giving us Asta and Yuno who are no doubt likely going to be involved. Of course, the big new series is My Hero Academia that will have to be included. My bets are on: Deku; Bakago; All-Might; and Stain, all being playable characters. The tricky part will be how to balance this between series. Popularity and how fighting orientated the series is will be a huge factor so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Again, if supports return it will be great to include a wide range of series.
On a personal note, I just want to see more Gintama characters. Particularly as in J-Stars Victory+ Gintoki was only really a joke character with only 1 basic combo. I hope they give him a more rounded style that actually fits with how he fights in the anime. Kagura (if she is not a support) and Takasugi would be another 2 good characters to just give Gintama the representation it deserves. It will be interesting to see if the joke characters do return such as; Lucky Man, Kankichi Ryotsu, etc., as they would not fit with the more serious tone. Yet I would still like to see their return as it just captures the heart of Shonen Jump’s variety.
Either way, as this is linked to the 50th Anniversary of Shonen Jump, it is sure to be a huge project that will bring all the great elements of the different series together. Jump Force will be published by Bandai Namco and released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019. Comment below if you agree with our predictions or have any of your own!