JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle certainly lives up to its name – it’s bizarre in almost every way. With its overly flamboyant characters and cheesy dialogue, you can’t help but laugh during a fight, but is the battling itself any good? Developer CyberConnect2 has a lot of experience with the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm games, but how do they fare with a much more traditional fighting title?
Based on the long-running anime and manga series, JoJo follows generations of the British Joestar family as they get caught up in several misadventures. Sadly, you won’t get to know much else other than super-powered people fighting other insanely strong people, as the story isn’t very well told in-game.
The story is briefly explained via text, yet fails to explain important information such as who people are, and what ‘Stands’ are; whilst clear the game was created for fans, there’s been little effort in making the story accessible to those who’ve never seen or read JoJo. It makes little sense why CyberConnect2 didn’t use animated cutscenes to tell the story like they have with other games.
We felt encouraged to play the story solely to unlock the characters, as we didn’t particularly connect to anybody. The plot feels as if it’s there solely to appeal to long-time fans, who will surely be disappointed. However, if you want to unlock all the content that the game has to offer, you’ll have to suffer through the relatively short story.
There are seven parts which each have a number of chapters, but none last long. While characters retain the flair you might remember, they’re one-dimensional and not fleshed out in the slightest. This leaves a bitter taste to what could have been an amazing story mode celebrating the series’ success. What’s immensely baffling is that there isn’t even a tutorial mode, just a do-it-yourself practice mode.
Thankfully, the gameplay fares much better than the story, with the over-the-top action accurately captured, and there was no skimping out on flashy animations. It’s a solid 2.5D fighter with 3D elements, as you’re able to dodge sideways and around your enemy, but the primary fighting will be on a traditional 2.5D scale. It’s accessible to those who aren’t familiar with brawlers, but there’s enough depth to please hardcore fans for those who wish to play competitively.
Featuring 1-on-1 battles, you’ll pick your favourite character and jump into the fray. You’ll also be in possession of a ‘Stand’: an apparent supernatural power that allows you to pull off spectacular special moves. You can keep them tucked away, or summon them with the R1 button. Doing so will allow you to use some new moves, and will also extend your reach as they are usually in front of you.
There are also interactive environments represented by red circles on the floor, and if you manage to slam your opponent onto one, it’ll trigger an event. For example, a limousine could drive into the battle and threaten to hit you, or a maybe chariot complete with horses. These are good fun and you’ll want to do your best to not get hit, while trying to force your opponent into harm’s way.
We understand that ‘Ora Ora Ora!’ is a huge JoJo quirk, but it feels that every other Stand uses the same move to rapidly punch their opponents, leaving us feeling a bit underwhelmed with the missed opportunity for more variety. Instead, we’re treated to a solid and fluid, yet fairly generic, game that never seems to stand on its own feet, taking parts from other fighting games and not bringing anything new to the table. Fans will love the iconic moves, but those not interested in the series probably won’t find much enjoyment in the gameplay; although the enjoyment does increase significantly with a group of friends.
If you were hoping that Campaign Mode would offer you a beefier experience, then you’re sadly mistaken. What could’ve been a fully-formed, make-your-own adventure in fact tasks you with simply battling characters that have been slightly customised by other players. Unless you’re looking to gain rewards, you’d be best off sticking with the traditional Arcade Mode.
Graphically, it’s gorgeous, with it’s cel-shaded art and heavy anime look; it’s trademark JoJo, wrapped in glitter, with many colours and flamboyance not seen in other brawlers. Fluid animations and insanely ridiculous moves combine to make you feel as if you’re actually playing the anime. There are no framerate dips or screen tearing, which allows you to enjoy a seamless JoJo experience.
We wish that there were animated cutscenes, as you can only really enjoy the visuals when in battle or in the gallery, and we doubt the graphics will be your main focus during a fight. CyberConnect2 has created some beautiful cutscenes in other games, and as we stated earlier, it again makes little sense that they’ve been completely omitted from this title.
Voice acting is brilliant, albeit only available in Japanese, but the constant talking when hovering over any option on the menu can become grating. The soundtrack is decent, although forgettable, and features predominantly flat tunes with no real kick, providing no sense of importance in what are supposed to be gruelling, life-or-death battles. Be prepared for plenty of shouting, and a constant stream of satisfying punching noises.
As with most fighting games, lasting appeal is huge if you’re excited by the gameplay and enjoy online competition, and although the story and campaign modes are bare bones, they’re both capable of offering entertainment to those heavily invested in the series.
We wish that this bizarre adventure was better than it is, as it has so much original content to work with to really make it shine, but sadly, CyberConnect2 chose not to capitalise on this. Unfortunately, this leaves us with one of the most generic fighting games we’ve played in a long time; it’s certainly not the game you want if you’re looking for a thrilling plot. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle isn’t a bad game by any means, just a disappointing experience that oozes with missed potential.