|Pub: Namco Bandai|
|Release: April 29, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Animated Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Good news fighting game and anime fans, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle has made its way to America… and it hasn’t really changed. Last year we played the Japanese import version and we are happy to say, not much has changed. In fact, little has changed at all. The voices haven’t even been localized. All you are really getting is a translation of the menu and the story mode, and a tacked on Arcade Mode. However, for anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese, this is enough, because Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle is a phenomenal fighter that deserves your attention, whether you are a fan of the Jojo’s anime or not.
The biggest draw to this game is its fighting system. It’s a six button system, but not exactly how you would expect. The main three buttons are light, medium, and heavy attack, just like Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The attacks chain into each other, which then chain into specials moves and super moves which cost a bit of a meter which fills as you attack and defend. You have all heard this before. It’s the other three buttons that set Jojo’s apart from any other game.
The first button is dodge. While Jojo’s controls like a 2D fighter, it takes place in a 3D arena. As such, you can use the dodge button as another defensive option. The dodge button makes you sidestep into the foreground or the background, avoiding an opponent’s attack and gaining a chance for a counter-attack. However, some attacks track your motion, and so attempting to dodge them will get you hit. However, these tracking attacks are easily blocked and countered, so there is yet another level of mind-games to play on defense and offense.
The second unique button is taunt. “Now wait a minute,” you are probably saying, “Tons of fighting games let you taunt.” That is true, but few let you taunt the way Jojo’s does. Taunting actually reduces your opponent’s meter. Unfortunately, doing a taunt leaves you completely open. However, if you taunt while your opponent is knocked down, the game goes into a special cutscene that guarantees your taunt will finish and your opponent will lose meter. Doing so, however, spaces you away from your opponent and doesn’t let you mix them up as they get up.
The final unique button is the style button, and this is where Jojo’s really sets itself apart. Each character has a unique fighting style, and using the style button activates it. The most common style is the “stand” style, which summons a user’s stand. Think of these like Personas from Persona 4 Arena. When a stand is summoned, it fights for you instead of the character you are controlling, and this changes up your entire move set. By spending meter, you can switch in and out of your stand style in the middle of moves, creating interesting combos with you and your Stand together.
However, the style button has many other effects for many other characters. For “ripple” users, it allows them to charge their super meter and perform special EX versions of their specials. For “vampire” users, it allows them to drain life at the end of combos. “Mode” characters can perform installs that increase their stats and give them new special moves. “Horse” characters can quite literally ride horses in the middle of battle, giving them immensely increased damage and maneuverability at the expense of gigantic hurt boxes.
There are a ton of other interesting mechanics in the game as well, including guard crushes, rapid cancels, easy combos executed by just tapping the light attack button and more. There are even stage hazards, done exquisitely well. Basically, the game warns you before any of them come, showing their exact path and letting you dodge them. In fact, they don’t even activate unless you knock an opponent down in a “danger” zone, and so they are easily totally ignored. Characters also go into a desperation mode that gives them some sort of stat bonus when their health is below 25%. In short, there are a lot of interesting mechanics here to fool around with.
That should be enough to get you to purchase the game, if you are a hardcore fighting game player. However, if you are a more casual Jojo’s fan, the game has you covered too. The game has a story mode which walks you through all of the eight arcs of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Unfortunately, the story mode isn’t a huge production, like you would expect from DBZ or Naruto games. It’s mostly text and image cut-ins, bookended by battles here and there on specific stages with specific conditions. Of course, you’ll go through it to unlock all sorts of different characters, but you probably won’t touch it much otherwise.