Licensed anime games have been around forever since the early 1980s. Many vary in quality, but many generations and ages still continue to enjoy them. There is a heavy stigma around anime arena fighters, such as the majority of them feel massively repetitive, cheap, lazy, or just cheap clones of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games or bad renditions of the Dragon Ball Tenkaichi series. Fast forward to 2024, we have our first awaited Jujutsu Kaisen anime game: Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash.
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is a very needed entry in the anime game spectrum. Even though the game has its few inherent flaws in presentation & design, Cursed Clash reinvigorates its own style within the arena fighter experience. Byking has perfectly returned to form, with gameplay again reminiscent of great games from the past and childhood.
What is Jujutsu Kaisen & Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash?
Jujutsu Kaisen is a popular Japanese manga series serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, written and illustrated by Gege Akutami. As of January 2024, the Jujutsu Kaisen manga has over 90 million copies distributed worldwide, including related novels, digital versions, and Jujutsu Kaisen 0, making it one of the best-selling manga series of all time.
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is an upcoming fighting game developed by Byking and Gemdrops and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is a 2v2 Anime Arena fighter that completely separates itself from the rest of the genre. I find myself deeply in love with the gameplay of Cursed Clash because it’s very indistinguishable from Dissidia: Final Fantasy in its execution while keeping its own IP’s fanservice involved. This title is not another Naruto Storm clone or anything similar to previous Dragon Ball games; it indeed has its own identity.
Weak Presentation But Practical
A huge criticism of Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is the game’s presentation. The game menus primarily care more about function & accessibility vs form and flash. While I care about the communication factor of where to find everything in a game, I feel like this is where Cursed Clash ultimately fails overall. The game is heavily themed after the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen anime, where you see cutscenes of various in-season moments as you change through the different game modes.
The place where Presentation matters the most and lacks is in Free Battle mode. The offline character select screen is not as flashy as many fighting game character select screens of the past and seemingly feels like it lacks soul, where it should take more inspiration from the series so far.
Even though this can come off as very lazy, it does make things practical. Making all the main Free Battle settings have their own dedicated section instead of clicking through multiple windows just to get into a match and being cluttered in this type of game is a blessing. In many anime games in the past, you were required to endure 3-4 loading screens before the match even started.
The Story Mode
The Story Mode in Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash is a massive retelling of major scenes from the anime of season 1 of Jujutsu Kaisen & the events of the prequel movie Jujutsu Kaisen 0. It’s nothing grand as it literally takes anime screenshots with its retelling; however, this is one of the best ways to experience a shorthand version of the story.
The best part about the Story Mode is that there are pretty decent challenges to increase the rank for each mission. If you learn the game quickly, getting an S Rank is pretty easy through various story mode missions. If you want to earn more Jujutsu Points to unlock colors & unique costumes for your character, this is one of the best ways to do this early on and max out your relationship chart with the characters. Your relationship chart will increase as you progress through the story.
Online Co-op is another mode where you can have access to 2 additional modes: Rush Battle, where you can team up with friends and take on a series of waves, and Survival Battle. It mostly has RPG elements where you can train/equip your characters with upgrades to max health and damage over time all the way up to level 30.
An Exhilarating Combat System for Anime Games
Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash Combat system is a huge breath of fresh air compared to many other anime arena fighters out on the market currently and in the past. The gameplay has so much depth in various different places, from movement to combat and team synergy.
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash fares stray away from the normal anime arena fighter design. If you’ve heard of arcade games such as Square Enix’s Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Gunslinger Stratos, and/or Byking’s recently released Magicians Dead, you’ll feel right at home and be very familiar with the concept of the gameplay.
In Cursed Clash, there are four basic attacks: Combo Technique is your basic combo attack; however, if you have a cursed energy gauge, feel up to a specific tier of the gauge. If completed, the auto combo will end with a cursed technique or cursed tool ender.
Next is Extraction Techniques, which vary 100% on character and why everyone feels completely unique in this game. Some characters’ extraction techniques serve as a massive blowback attack to knock an opponent away, giving you time to reposition your focus on the other teammate, while many other extraction moves can be mid-ranged attacks or give fast advanced armored abilities like Yuji’s dive kick or Sukuna’s teleport.
The coolest feature in this game is Joint Attacks. Essentially, it’s like a launcher that is unblockable, and if your teammates hit them while they are in the spinning animation, it triggers a special damaging cutscene that does damage.
Finally, Cursed Energy Attacks are your special moves that actually damage the opponents! Combo technique without the enders and or extraction attacks doesn’t decrease the health of the player but helps build up your Cursed Energy Level to do even stronger variations of cursed techniques/cursed tool moves.
Domain Expansions is one of the coolest mechanics in the game, they usually require curse energy level to be at max to activate and requires the trade off time to go into it. I think the fun is finding amazing scenarios to coordinate with your teammates for specific situations in matches. Jogo’s domain expansion boosts his cursed energy techniques while constantly damaging enemies in the area and messing with the movement. On the other hand, Gojo has limitless, which stops opponents from moving for a certain amount of time.
Team Synergy is very important in Cursed Clash, where team compositions could mean everything. I won’t go super deep into it now but know that each character comes with different archetypes, different damage outputs, and combo routes from the whole roster of characters so far. Characters like Geto & Nobara can be classified as zoners, while fighters such as Yuji & Gojo are classified
If you’re expecting this game to play like Naruto Storm or even Xenoverse, you will be disappointed. This game is not a heavy combo-oriented game. The goal of the game is to use Team Synergy to help defeat the opponents faster. Whether it is the use of set play, mixing your opponents, or overwhelming them with attacks.
Heavily influenced by the source material, a mini-game called “Jujutsu RBI” is the baseball game in the second and final competition of the 30th annual Kyoto-Sister School Goodwill Event! The gameplay of Jujutsu RBI is very similar to R.B.I. Baseball (1986) with Jujutsu Kaisen characters.
What makes this so fun is that it has the characters in their element and form. The pitcher mechamaru is in robot form, and seeing the Jujutsu Kaisen cast in an 8-bit iteration is always a very nostalgic vibe from my childhood. The gameplay is very simple and easy to play, with the circle button being able to control the batter’s ability to swing, stop midway to bunt, or even return to face. If you’re defending, you can move around with the d-pad or left analog stick while you can use any of the four face buttons to decide base, select players, or move pitchers as well.
Amazing & Fun Gameplay Buried By Weak Low Budget Presentation
I love Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash, however the game presentation in other areas outside of gameplay holds it back from being potentially one of the best to come out for anime games recently. The gameplay being a complete 180 from the typical arena fighter gameplay format is a blessing, but the lack of expression in the menus, the weak retelling of story mode, and the overall atmosphere don’t feel like this game is Byking & Gemdrop’s best. If you’re here for the gameplay and online component, like the exhilarating 2v2 anime battles that haven’t been done since J-Stars Victory Vs+, this game is 100% for you! The lackluster single-player experience and presentation are what ultimately make it feel not worth the price tag on launch, but a month down the road, it is definitely a must-play if you’re into anime arena fighters and/or yearning for more Jujutsu Kaisen.
Even if you’re not one of those people who care about the online component of the game dying, you can always tackle Online co-op modes with a friend years down the line! As it stands currently, Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is a game that is fun and ugly but has so much potential even beyond its gameplay. If Byking/Gemdrops decided to tackle a sequel and build upon this foundation, this game could be one of the best in the genre, undoubtedly.
Bandai Namco provided Final Weapon with a PlayStation 5 copy of Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash for review purposes.