Developed by: CyberConnect2
Published by: Bandai Namco
I could be completely out of touch here and that wouldn’t be something unusual (If it wasn’t for being on Twitter I wouldn’t have a clue who Justin Bieber is and I’m still not completely sure), but I can’t imagine many people in our fair isles know much about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. That in no ways means it’s not popular though. In Far East Asia, it could almost be termed as a cultural phenomenon. The Manga comics are said to have sold over 80 million in Japan alone.
The story is based around the Joestar family. A family with English heritage and a penchant for the camp and flamboyant. Flamboyant could actually be a one word review for this game. This is no Gok Wan slap-fest though, this is a traditional 2D (with some simple depth of field 3D movement elements) fighter akin to Street Fighter and all that has followed since. It’s camp, it’s brash, it’s brutal, it’s in your face. There are no limp wrists here, but there are high kicks galore. The game packs a punch weighty enough for it to be taken seriously in a genre defined by precision. Whilst purist may say this isn’t a ‘real’ fighting game, that may be missing the point. This game is made to be fun, something many of us forget when gaming these days.
Developed by CyberConnect2, it comes with their own hallmarks of beautiful graphics, over the top special moves and enough nods and winks to fans of the comics to keep them happy for a lifetime.
The crux of the games fighting system is the ‘Style’ button. All the characters are divided into 5 different styles and the button has a different effect depending on their style. These range from trans-morphing into OTT monsters, to even horseback fighting. Yes folks, your flamboyant fighting Japanese family from Victorian Britain can sit atop horses and fight on the 2D arena. It’s fabulously entertaining. The different styles along with the large cast of varied characters and the aforementioned highly stylised cel shaded graphics really lends to a feeling of WOW!
I should point out that this game whilst being accessible, can and does confuse the hell out of you. There’s no tutorial mode, so whilst you’re trying to get to grips with the controls, the style buttons, the combos and everything else. The game is like a bomb going off in a drag queens dressing room. Insanity, high-hair, wigs and costumes-flying out at all directions whilst you’re trying to get to grips with it all can be too much. There is a practice mode arena though, that will give you some space and time to practice those moves.
The true hardcore may be disappointed by the lack of depth involved in having to pull off the special moves. I don’t think this should be confused with being completely vacuous at all. The amount of moves and unlockables is massive. The developer clearly has a love affair with the source material and this shines through with a big fat grin on its face.
To unlock the entire cast of characters in the game you will have to play through the entire story mode. I think this is where not being familiar with the source material left me feeling a bit out in the cold. There are clearly landmark moments in the story on show here, but these moments just left me feeling more than a touch confused. The story itself being dished out in small bites of text.
Then you have some of the other modes: Arcade mode lets you fight random opponents one after the other, great for a quick match. Versus mode lets you tweak around with the settings to give you full control and play a game exactly how you want to. There’s a gallery that allows you to unlock artwork by buying it with any gold won from playing in the other modes.
Then there’s a campaign mode. This is very different as the rules of combat were changed. But it’s novel in its own way and another great way to practice and it does unlock more goodies for gamers of that persuasion. This mode consists of fights of one round against AI opponents. The enemies have stats based on ghost data from other players. You have an energy bar which restricts you, but find some space in the arena to hold back and the bar refills. Whilst feeling a bit cheap, it’s a mode that’s actually very addictive, but again, I think this is the mode that will have fighting purists up in arms the most.
Online battling seemingly works well enough. Whilst keeping things simple, it’s a lot of fun and that sums up much of the game. Of course, online is riddled with the same disease as any other online fighter, that being players playing with one character and one set of moves.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle is fun. There’s a lot of game here and what really appeals is its sense of fun, flair and the beauty. Fans of the source material I imagine will be overjoyed. Fighting fans will find enough here to keep them amused and the developers passion shines through. Purists will probably find it lacking and the game as a whole doesn’t offer anything new. For myself, it’s great to see a game that is actually unashamed to be Japanese and insane.