E3 2018 Hands-On Impression: Bandai Namco’s Jump Force

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

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Jump Force

Platform(s): PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Pro; Xbox One/Xbox One X; PC
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
Release Date: 2019

Jump Force, which brings characters from the past fifty years of Shonen Jump Magazine into one fighting game, is one of the most ambitious titles published by BANDAI NAMCO in years. The story set up is that the Shonen Jump world is being intertwined with our world, leading to things such as Naruto‘s World Tree appearing in New York City’s Time Square and Freiza’s ship appearing in the Alp Mountains in the Matterhorn stage (both of which were available to see in the E3 demo). The fighter graphics in Jump Force are much more realistic than I have been accustomed to from other BANDAI NAMCO titles and therefore needed a bit of adjusting to, but it really doesn’t detract from the ultimate experience.

Jump Force

Frieza’s ship has crashed in the Alps, in one of the playable Jump Force stages at E3 2018. (Image courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO).

The combat system in Jump Force is both new and familiar at the same time. You have a combined team made up of three Shonen Jump heroes and villains per team that you can switch between at will, and they each have different attacks and abilities. This is fairly standard stuff. Where it gets interesting is that everyone on the same team shares a single health bar. So if that bar hits zero, you lose. Speaking with a representative from BANDAI NAMCO on the E3 show floor, what I demoed was an early build of the game.

Jump Force

There are “Awakenings” in this game that will give the fighters different abilities. (Image courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO).

As I stated in the beginning, this game is ambitious in a way that I haven’t seen since the Squaresoft-published/Light Weight-developed Bushido Blade in 1997. There were six characters to choose from at E3 2018: Son Goku, Freiza, Luffy, Roronoa, Naruto, and Sasuke. I picked my three (Freiza, Son Goku, and Luffy) and dove straight into a match. I quickly discovered that with a single health bar and the strength of the attacks, it was very easy for a match to last just seconds in this fully 3D environment. As someone accustomed to the drawn-out fights in most other fighting games, there was a real blink-and-you-may-miss it feeling to Jump Force as the attacks flow back and forth between the fighters as they circle around each other looking for a weak point to attack. Jump Force is not a game you will be able to just mash buttons and get away in the final build with yet another victory on a consistent basis (it should be noted, however, that my opponents just stood there and took whatever damage I dished out in my E3 demo), and I cannot possibly be more pleased by this.

Jump Force is, in other words, not your standard fighting game and, I think, represents a fascinating experiment forward in the genre for BANDAI NAMCO to publish. I for one am excited to see who all else will be filling out the roster for Jump Force, and how all of the fighters handle working with -and against- each other in the final product.

Jump Force is currently available for preorder on PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One/Xbox One X, and PC.

Who are you most excited to fight as in Jump Force? What do you think of the art style as revealed in the trailer and screenshots

Let us know in the comments below!