Jump Force Brings 3v3 Tag Fighting To The 3D World

Depending on whether or not you’re a massive Shonen Jump anime/manga fan, the announcement of Jump Force during Xbox’s E3 Briefing might very well have stolen the show. Though franchises like Dragon Ball, Naruto and One Piece have crossed over before (J-Stars Victory Versus, for example), it’s always exciting to see them interact with each other.

Even if Jump Force is still a long way off, committed only to a vague 2019 release date, the game has the potential to follow through on that excitement. It borrows enough ideas from the many anime brawlers that have come before it while adding some new ideas into the mix to create a game unlike anything that’s come before.

At its core, Jump Force is a 3D arena fighter in a similar style to One Piece: Burning Blood or the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Series. If you’re looking for another Xenoverse style combat system, you’ll go wanting. Jump Force is much slower by comparison, which makes sense as not every character can fly around like Goku. As such, the gameplay is much more grounded.

Jump Force

The game also feels much more cinematic than other 3D brawlers, with plenty of camera cutaway for super attacks and throws, along with arena transitions and the impressive new graphical style. Admittedly, it’s a little weird seeing Naruto, Sasuke and Luffy being presented with a more realistic art style, but it helps distinguish Jump Force from other games and looks incredible. It’s a win/win.

Controls are fairly standard, and pretty similar to other Bandai Namco 3D fighters. You’ve got light attacks and heavy attacks on X and Y respectively, along with grabs mapped to the B button, and using the control stick while attacking can lead to new combos. Players can also use super attacks by holding down RT and pressing a face button, and use awakenings with a press of the right stick, provided they’ve taken enough damage anyway.

Due to the nature of the 3D brawling genre, Jump Force has the very real danger of devolving into just a button masher, but fortunately it has some tricks up its sleeves to give the action a little bit more nuance and depth, chief among them being the tag mechanics.

Jump Force

Similarly to Dragon Ball FighterZ, Jump Force plays out as a 3v3 tag fighter, with one character from each team fighting at the same time. At any point during the fight, you can press LT to tag the next fighter in, and they’ll shoot across screen before appearing next to your opponent, while holding down the trigger will call your partner in for an assist.

Naturally, these tag mechanics help bolster the combo potential of the game, such as using an assist to follow up on a regular combo or calling someone in just as you use a super to continue laying on the damage as well. The ability to combo someone on the ground with attacks and supers also helps strengthen your damage dealing opportunities.

That being said, there’s more that could be done with the tag system. Currently, it seems like you can only call in the assists of the next person in the team. Character 1 calls in 2, 2 calls in 3 and 3 goes back to 1. It seems like an oversight, considering other 3v3 tag fighters allow you to choose from either character. In its defense though, it means that your team composition has to be on point, as each character has to work well with the next fighter in sequence.

Jump Force

One of the most interesting decisions regarding the tag system is that each team has only one shared health bar. There’s no tagging in a teammate to get more health here, and yes, it is possible to get KO’d without ever making a switch. It’s a decision that can make matches go by very quickly, with one quick burst of momentum often being the deciding factor in who wins.

Of course, if you are being pressured by your opponent, you still have tools at your disposal to turn the tide in your favour. Blocks and dodges can help weather the storm, but a well timed press of the X button as your opponent attacks launches a damaging counter attack. Although we say well timed, it seems like you can just mash the button and hope for the best.

The true test of Jump Force’s staying power will be how it fares during player vs player battles, which unfortunately wasn’t available during the demo. Because the AI didn’t exactly offer much in the way of a challenge, it was tough to get a handle on how the game would handle at high level. Still, with plenty of time before the game comes out, we’ve every faith that Jump Force will be a success.

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