I play a lot of different fighting games, and most of these are 2D fighters such as Street Fighter, Guilty Gear and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Recently I purchased Jump Force — I only did it because I’m a simp for Yoruichi, okay? — and after playing the game for a little while I had some serious thoughts about it.
Today I want to talk about exactly what Jump Force is, along with what I think it could have and should have been. A game like this that mixes all of the characters from numerous different Shonen Jump titles had the potential to make our dreams come true. Alas, we got this…
What is Jump Force?
Jump Force is an arena fighter along the lines of the Naruto Storm games, One Piece Burning Blood or the Xenoverse games. The premise is this: The world of the Shonen Jump character collides with the real world and humanity is invaded by “Venoms”, a mind-controlled army led by Kane and Galena (original characters made solely for Jump Force by Akira Toriyama). The Shonen Jump heroes are recruited into “Jump Force” and aim to save the human world from this invasion.
To top it all off, after a battle between Goku and Frieza in New York, “you” are shot and rescued by Trunks, and the only way to save you is to turn you into a hero. So within this world of shounen heroes and villains, you get to play as your own original character.
Basically, the game is just “anime Avengers”, but executed in a somewhat poor manner. So where did the game go wrong? Well, in my opinion, it was from the very beginning.
I think that one of the most consistent track records that shounen anime currently holds is that whenever it is placed into a quasi-realistic setting, it goes poorly. Be it movie or game, it never ends well. The appeal of anime like this is in its unique style and worlds, not the real world where we’re suddenly able to see just how bizarre looking Deku’s eyes are or how terrifying All Might is.
Quite a while back a game released called J-Stars Victory VS which, at its core, was a very similar game to Jump Force. The difference is that it was set in the anime world where all of the Shonen Jump franchises had collided with one another. The fact that this game kept the appeal of shounen anime made it a better game than what Jump Force ended up being.
What Jump Force could have been
I started this piece off by mentioning my love for fighting games, primarily the 2D kind, and what exactly the direction that I wish Jump Force would have gone. In a previous article here on Rice Digital, I talked about the two shounen franchises that I believe could receive a fighting game similar to Dragon Ball FighterZ, but I left out what would ultimately be the dream fighting game; a Shonen Jump All-Stars game.
Just imagine something along the lines of Marvel vs Capcom, and the way that game managed to combine the worlds of Marvel superheroes with some of the most iconic and historical fighting game characters. Instead, we’d be mixing all the worlds that make up the Shonen Jump universe to create the ultimate team-based fighting game.
Maybe it’s just my love for traditional fighting games taking over, but the thought of One Piece’s Luffy shouting for an assist attack from Joseph Joestar from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is something that would make me smile for years to come.
I think that when creating anime-based action games, developers and publishers need to remember the reason that anime is as popular as it is: the unique aesthetic, characters and settings. Rather than trying to shove these larger than life characters into the “real” world, let us see something that mixes our love for all of these characters while keeping them firmly in the realm of anime.
When a game like Jump Force gets announced and anime fans see this insane crossover roster that features characters from Shonen titles of past and present, it’s not surprising that they’d get excited; then when they see that it’s another arena fighter with an off-putting visual style and animations that instantly break your immersion — I’m looking at you, floating Frieza — you can’t help but get a little depressed at thinking just how incredible such an ambitious crossover game could have been.
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