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We played Jump Force at E3 2018, and found a surprisingly accessible character fighter.

One of the (many) surprises at E3 2018 was the reveal of Spike Chunsoft’s Jump Force at the Xbox press conference. Published by Bandai Namco, Jump Force is a 3-on-3 tag fighting game developed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world-famous Shonen Jump manga magazine.

The game features characters taken from various Jump properties – including Death Note, Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece – with further additions to the roster to be announced later this year.

Rather than taking place within the fictional universe of any one Shonen Jump property, the game’s premise is that it’s our world that needs saving. As a result, popular characters such as Goku, Naruto and Monkey D. Luffy must band together, assemble Jump Force, and save the Earth.

During our hands-on with Jump Force at E3, our helpful demo guide explains more:

“There have been a lot of games based on manga and anime, but never before have we seen our reality be part of the experience. That’s exactly what Jump Force is all about.”

As shown in the E3 demo, Jump Force will feature real life locations such as a decimated Times Square, or the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.

“This real-world crossover is much more than a cool visual setting,” he says. “The best proof of this is that the whole concept is at the heart of the game’s storyline.”

This realistic take extends to the design of the characters themselves, who have a much more grounded visual look that fits with the earthbound concept.

“The biggest challenge for the artistic team has been to find the best balance between the different visual styles, maintaining the look and feel of the original manga, while giving them a photo-realistic touch to create a brand new visual identity.”

The result is a new interpretation that might not be to the taste of hardcore fans, but one that successfully gives the game visual consistency.

Jump Force screenshot

As for how the game plays? In this demonstration at least, Jump Force feels like an extremely accessible fighting game. Modern fighters often move at too fast a pace for an old duffer like me – DragonBall FighterZ, for example, is most certainly a pursuit for the young – but I found Jump Force to be approachable, even considerate, to newcomers.

It’s possible the difficulty on the E3 demo was dialled down for public consumption, but I was able to throw, punch, and launch my foes across the screen with remarkable, but nonetheless satisfying, ease.

At one point – and I’m still not entirely sure how I did it – I executed a series of side-to-side dodges before teleporting across the screen to launch an attack on my enemy from behind. For that briefest of moments fighting games suddenly made sense to me again. I understood. I got it.

However, although the basics appear to be in place, and based on the chatter of other players around me, the final product would do well to offer more of a challenge. With Spike Chunsoft on development duties, this shouldn’t be a worry.

Jump Force screenshot

Jump Force is also shaping up well visually. The characters and backgrounds all look solid enough, but it’s the effects that really make the game pop. Jump Force absolutely crackles with energy, with neon pyrotechnics and motion-blur used to great effect, and smart camera positioning giving each fight a dramatic staging. The splendour of the tag transitions alone will be worth the price of entry.

With plenty of development time ahead, the final product should look even better. It will also feature enhancements on Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, including full 4K support for Microsoft’s console.

Jump Force confirmed characters

  • Light Yagami – Death Note
  • Ryuk – Death Note
  • Goku – Dragon Ball
  • Frieza – Dragon Ball
  • Naruto Uzumaki – Naruto
  • Sasuke Uchiha – Naruto
  • Monkey D. Luffy – One Piece
  • Roronoa Zoro – One Piece

Jump Force will be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.

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