You’ve already seen the cutscenes online. Clips shared in tweets, mocking YouTube videos and more have been the source of ire for Jump Force. The art style has been questioned time and time again since the game’s reveal, and things aren’t getting much better. Stiff animations and odd dialogue delivery is rife in Jump Force, making its story scenes a cringe-inducing affair for players. The message is clear: anime and manga fans, you need to demand more from your licensed games.
Despite the issues, Jump Force does a lot right. In battle, the fights looks suitably explosive. Special moves pop off the screen, characters execute speedy juggles, and extending your combos with character switches and assists is satisfying. But as soon as the action slows down and you get a good look at your characters — yikes, something is amiss.
Cut these scenes
This is clearest in the cutscenes. The art style is the first thing to blame. In an attempt at bringing manga heroes into the real world, they’ve been given oddly glassy eyes, and sickly shiny look to them, almost as if they’ve been given a vinyl coating. Eyes look glassy and unnerving, and the clash of art styles between the disparate franchises only serves to highlight how unusual these characters can look when given somewhat realistic proportions.
Then when they move their animations are stiff and stilted, like an amateur puppet master is pulling their strings. Characters sometimes just stand perfectly still and don’t animate at all, other things powerful screams of dialogue are delivered by a character lightly bouncing in an idle animation. It has an amateurish and underwhelming feeling to it. This should be an incredible celebration of the real and manga worlds coming together, and instead, it’s just awkward and disappointing.
Some of the mockery has been aimed at scenes where characters literally float into the air with no animation, and where ultra powerful heroes are toppled and made mockeries of in seconds by a small cube. The story here is laughable and seems to be there just to make players wonder why they had ever even bothered.
Even the hub world is a large, empty environment where logos from famous franchises have been placed on the walls, and at this point, it shouldn’t be permissible. These are literally some of the biggest comic and manga franchises the world has ever seen, but while characters like Batman and Spider-Man have multiple games that can make fans proud, they are few and far between when it comes to anime and manga franchises. This is even more outrageous now because we live in a world where we know these licenses can get respectful, quality video games.
Martial artist, ninja, pirate alliance
Dragon Ball FighterZ was one of the freshest and most faithful licensed games of all time. It handled characters wonderfully, looked great, and played amazingly. The game even had players pausing and screenshotting gameplay to compare them to scenes from anime. The gameplay was so good that it spawned a popular competitive scene with tournaments all over the globe. It turned a licensed anime game into a fighting game community phenomenon.
And to be fair to Bandai Namco, it looks like more quality titles are on the way. One Piece: World Seeker is coming out soon, and looks incredibly promising as a beautifully animated, open-world adaptation of the One Piece license. The new Dragon Ball Project Z is another game that looks like it might be truly great. But even with these titles on the horizon, we’re stuck right now with Jump Force.
One of the prevailing feelings players will get while playing Jump Force is that it feels like cutscenes were all made in Garry’s Mod. Even the hub world and unusual running animation for the player look like they could have been created in Garry’s Mod. It just looks like something fans would make as a free game, not a fully funded game made by a team of professional developers.
So what is the solution to this? It’s simple — vote with your wallets. Jump Force does have solid gameplay, but with so many disappointing aspects, is it enough to justify what feels like a rushed game? And while future games look promising, for now we still don’t know what to expect.
But this is important. If games like Dragon Ball FighterZ and One Piece: World Seeker are the licensed anime titles you’ve been wanting all this time, then buy those instead. Boycotts are one thing, but nothing speaks louder to large publishers than money. If you are willing to pay for polished, big-budget video game adaptations of your favorite franchises, then make sure you put your money down to prove it. Just skip Jump Force in the meantime and wait for the adaptations we deserve.