Despite not being a massive anime fan, one of the titles I was quite keen to try out at PAX Australia was Jump Force, mainly in part to approximately four characters. When I saw Luffy, Zoro, Ichigo and the recently announced Yugi, my excitement shot through the roof – all it needs is Alucard and it would be a perfect personal roster.
Jump Force is a delightful 3D fighting game created by Bandai Namco, which pits popular anime/manga figures in a series of crossplay-infused battles. Players choose three characters to utilise in the battle, being able to interchange your primary fighter at any time. This adds a lot of versatility and a rudimentary counter system into the game, or as just a method to ensure all of your fav fighters get ample screen time.
With how large some of the stages are, you can accumulate some hefty distance which is where some of the more practical utility of the change itself can be seen. If you and your opponent have a fair bit of space between you, the change will prompt a rush-in, allowing you to close the gap rapidly.
Combat is delegated to a set of relatively simple controls, which contrasts with a lot of other fighters in the market, such as Tekken and Soul Caliber making use of overly complex combos. Jump Force makes use of quick attack buttons but doesn’t rely on a long string of button presses to initiate a powerful attack.
Each of the four main buttons on the controller is mapped to a particular ability, and has an associated energy cost. This energy can be generated through a charge ability, up to a total of five bars. The more powerful an ability the higher the energy cost is.
So now that we have the basics out of the way, it is time to talk about my experience. As you could probably have guessed the three characters I chose for my bout with the AI opponent were Ichigo, Luffy and Zoro. And I’ll reiterate that if Alucard had been an option he would’ve been chosen three times.
Queueing up a random stage that my lack of anime knowledge prevents me from announcing, Luffy and the enemy Rukia squared off. It was at this point I instantly retreated to give myself some breathing room to charge up, managing to fill out my energy bar before Rukia came rushing in. Managing to time my attack perfectly, Luffy launched a decisive Gum Gum Red Hawk sending Rukia flying.
This was followed by a Gum Gum Hawk Gattling, which I fell in love with, (the animation in Jump Force is truly wondrous) at which point Rukia was switched out. I apologise again for my lack of anime knowledge because despite picking the enemy team I have no clue who I was faced. So I switched and Zoro became my main fighter, and the pattern began anew with my not-so-disciplined-hands dispensing punishment, in the form of Three Thousand Worlds.
Ichigo was up next, and while his attacks were impressive, it was his Ultimate ability that I was interested in. Out comes Shin Tensa Zangetsu which may have been a fair bit of overkill considering how low the enemy health bar was, but I’m a busy guy and haven’t got time to waste.
The final round proceeded in much the same fashion, with the AI actually proving as quite the disruptive distraction to my exploratory form of gameplay. Back to my main pirate, and the match was in the bag. I was dodging and attacking with a delightful viciousness that felt quite intuitive, the simple gameplay style seems to work well in this sense. As the match’s end drew nearer, I was finally ready to activate Luffy’s Ultimate ability and when I did, I was almost left speechless.
For you see, I am not incredibly far into One Piece, so seeing his Gear Four ability was a complete shock, and led me to having a discussion with a friend as to when Luffy was able to do that. Spoiler alert, much was spoiled.
Jump Force was actually the final large-scale game that I played at PAX Australia and I am quite glad it was. Being a person who doesn’t play fighting games that often the dynamic combat and wonderful art style has piqued my interest. I just cannot wait to get my hands on Yugi, summoning Dark Magician, Dark Magician Girl and of course, Slifer the Sky Dragon.
Jump Force will be released February 15th 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.