|Dev: CyberConnect 2|
|Pub: Namco Bandai|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Do you know what that means? If not, then you haven’t been watching/reading the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure anime/manga. This absolutely outrageous series has seen people attacking each other with concepts, unraveling themselves into Mobius strips, altering entire universes, and posing… oh god, so much posing. This epic, eight-act shonen manga is still being written in Japan today, and a brand-new anime series has just started airing to commemorate it, and yes, to commemorate that commemoration anime, we have yet another commemoration--Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, a fighting game.
The game just came out in Japan for the PS3, and it is awesome! 100% pure fighting-game awesome! If you are thinking of picking this game up, note that most of the menus are in English, and the move sets are easy to understand even if you don’t speak a lick of Japanese. The story mode, which is easily one of the game’s biggest assets, is unfortunately a little hard to penetrate without knowledge of the language, but fan translation guides are already being written and can be found all over the Internet. So if this game tickles your fancy, don’t hesitate to import it, or even better, purchase it off the Japanese PlaySation Network store.
But enough about these importing technicalities, let’s talk about gameplay. While Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is a Namco Bandai game (and yes, that means that it has that confusing high, mid, and low system where mids are jumping attacks and highs are standing attacks), it plays a lot more like a Capcom or Arc System Works game. It has four main buttons, light, medium, hard, and style. The attack buttons chain into each other from low strength to high and can be canceled into specials or supers at any time. The style button activates a special power unique to the character you are controlling, usually a Stand power of some sort. Stand powers create a second ghostly character that hovers slightly in front of your main character, and while you would think this would give the game some Persona 4 Arena-style two-character mechanics, all it really does is alter your move-list and mechanics a bit.
There are plenty of other mechanics, however, that feel as if they were lifted from Persona 4 Arena. For example, you can spend meter on a rapid-cancel maneuver that returns you to neutral immediately. There are also quick dodges, EX moves, and a whole plethora of character-specific mechanics.
For example, Josuke has a special install he goes into when someone “insults his hair,” i.e., attacks him during a certain pose that allows him to quickly cancel his attacks and get super armor. Joseph has a counter taunt that actually predicts the opponent’s taunt and taunts before him. Pucci can evolve his Stand throughout the battle to eventually create the all-powerful Stairway to Heaven. There are tons of other character-specific mechanics throughout the entire roster, from time stopping to riding horses, and this is where Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle really shines. This is one of the most creative rosters that we have seen in fighting-game history.
Sadly, one of the more inaccessible modes that the game has to offer is a character-customization mode. Here, characters can “level up” by altering their stats and move properties. To be completely honest, it’s impenetrable without a translation guide, but it shows a lot of promise. It’s certainly a welcome spin on the same old fighting-game formula.
Another interesting spin on the same old fighting-game spiel is Jojo’s “situation finishes” and character-specific moves. Situation finishes are special end-of-battle cutscenes that take place when killing a certain character with a certain move on a certain stage. Usually, these finishes end up recreating scenes from the anime and manga, ending the battle in a far more spectacular fashion. For example, Jonathan can use Sunlight Yellow Overdrive and punch Dio off the balcony of his manor!
The same holds true for the game’s unique, character-specific attacks. When two characters who have something in common in the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure cannon fight each other, the properties of their moves change. For example, Dio’s infamous Road Roller Da move, where he drops a steamroller on you and punches it ‘til it explodes, has a special animation when it’s done on Jotaro, the protagonist of Act 3, where Dio originates. The animation shows Jotaro punching the steamroller back, and this actually gives Jotaro a chance to counter Dio’s move. Some character-specific attacks only change in appearance, while others make moves stronger or weaker. It makes the game feel a bit unbalanced, but it certainly ups the cinematic feel of each battle.
Overall, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is one of the most fun fighting games on the market right now. It successfully marries deep, complex game mechanics with stunning cinematic attacks. It’s not as mashy as a Naruto game yet not as technical as Street Fighter IV. It’s the perfect game for either the hardcore Jojo’s anime fan or a casual fighter just looking to have some fun.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is currently a PS3 exclusive. Namco Bandai has said that it will be looking into releasing the game here in the States, but an official release date has not yet been given. We will bring you more information about the game and its localized release as it becomes available.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: September 12, 2013