‘JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle’ Review
Platform PlayStation 3 Developer CyberConnect 2 Publisher Bandai Namco Games Genre Fighter Platform Played On PlayStation 3
When an anime/manga series is making the jump to video game form, there is no better developer to be at the helm than CyberConnect 2. Their latest endeavour is a 3D fighter based on the popular Japanese manga series, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The series was originally created by Hirohiko Araki in 1986, and has sold over 80 million copies in Japan alone, making it one of the best-selling manga of all time.
Like the manga series, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle revolves around the Joestar family and the long list of descendants. Story Mode is dedicated to telling the 8-Part tale of the series, which allows the player to partake in the most influential battles from each family member’s life. The problem with this set-up is that these battles are never explained well; aside from small sequences of dot-point-based text before each battle, there is no real explanation for newcomers to understand. While the inclusion of a glossary that explains characters, terms, and items is appreciated, the fact players cannot quickly access the glossary from Story Mode itself means it is a feature some may miss entirely.
Story Mode also suffers from repetitive moments, due to the fact each Part usually takes place within one arena, facing the same opponent repeatedly, which becomes a chore after the same battle has occurred for the fourth time in a row. Luckily, even though Story Mode can become a repetitive affair, the flamboyant nature of JoJo’s cast of characters and their unique situations do provide a memorable showcase. Fighting in the past as a disabled cowboy, or fighting against a manga artist, or doing battle on the Kennedy Space Station, are only a small selection of the crazy moments that any player can appreciate.
All-Star Battle tries to add variety to these battles by adding requirements that the player must overcome, such as starting with 50% health, given less time to beat the opponent, or facing an enemy with an ever recharging health bar. These obstacles provided an extra challenge throughout the 6-hour Story Mode, which made me re-think my strategy, depending on what problems I had to overcome.
All-Star Battle is a competent 3D arcade-style fighting experience, where players will succeed if they button mash, but will be torn apart by those who want to explore the depth within the combat. Utilising precise dodging, environmental damage and the use of your special abilities, coupled with the typical light, heavy and grapple-based moves of any fighter can be an impressive display. All-Star Battle also features five different fighting styles, which range from Haman – who are able to replenish their special ability gauge with a click of a button – to the Stand style, where a spiritual being fights alongside them providing a new series of attacks. With over 30 fighters to choose from, there is an impressive range of choice.
Though providing a decent amount of depth, it is hard to tell if fighting game aficionados will become attached to the experience. Due to the ease of spam-attack dominance, All-Star Battle rides a very fine line in terms of being classified as a casual or hard-core fighter. In terms of balance, All-Star Battle relies more on a vibrant visual display and over the top moments, rather than being a hard-core fighter that relies on well balanced competition and skill to claim victory. These aspects are something to consider when determining if All-Star Battle is the fighter for you.
These vibrant visuals are beautifully produced using the cell-shaded anime style that has become the norm within anime/manga video games. When initiating the special ability of each character, I was greeted to an impressive explosion of vibrant colours – a unique firework that each character possessed. CyberConnect 2 went to strong lengths to make these manoeuvres devastating, yet breathtakingly gorgeous at the same time. Fans of the original manga will also appreciate the visual call-backs to the manga itself. Before each battle, a small instance occurs where the camera zooms into a comic book style panel, creating the illusion that we are watching these manga battles play out before our very eyes. It is a minor detail, but it adds a visual flare and appreciation of the source material.
The cell-shaded art-style also does wonders for the 12 arenas included in All-Star Battle. Each battleground is beautifully crafted, and includes a lively background. When battling in a suburban district, residents and vehicles will move around the background of the 3D arena. Every arena also includes a unique Battleground Gimmick that can hurt your opponent, similar to the stage transitions found in Injustice: Gods Among Us; obviously, these moments can be used to your advantage. Each stage also includes a special Dramatic Finish, which will see your opponent fly off into surrounding areas. These Finishes are an excellent way to showcase your knowledge of each arena, while also rubbing salt into the wounds of your inferior opponent.
Alongside your typical Versus and Arcade Modes is a unique mode called Campaign. Surprisingly, this mode is nothing like the name suggests. Players must search for random battles which will remove energy from their gauge, in hopes of finding a boss encounter. When the boss is defeated, their overall health will decrease, depending on how much energy was used to increase your overall damage output. Defeating opponents and bosses will unlock new taunts, costumes, tag lines, victory celebrations, and sound effects.
The mode is strangely similar to previous free-to-play games I have experienced. When your energy is depleted, you must wait for it to refill before searching for more encounters. Not only that, but there are also micro-transactions, which will allow players to skip the waiting period and continue searching for boss encounters. Throughout Campaign Mode, I was constantly hassled to use extra energy on support items or attack bonuses, almost like the game was pushing me in the micro-transaction direction. Having the option to unlock a plethora of bonus customisable options for each character is a great addition, but the weird inclusion of real-money transactions made the mode feel like a Farmville-esque activity, rather than a mode that had any substance to its existence.
All-Star Battle also contains an online component, which allows for ranked and un-ranked matches. After competing in over a dozen online battles, my online experience was far from positive. Almost each match I played suffered from strong lag issues that would at times freeze the match every few seconds, even when I chose to host the game myself. Due to the small online community at this time, my lag issues could simply be due to the fact not many people close to my location (Australia) were playing online. But these issues have never been a problem when playing other online fighters, such as Mortal Kombat, or Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which is an issue to keep in mind if you plan on spending a majority of you time online.
Where CyberConnect 2 has succeeded is giving hard-core JoJo fans a reason to continue to play. There are a plethora of items to unlock through the various modes, or simply by purchasing from the Gallery. These include 3D models of each character, sound bites, art work, and music found in the game. Those looking to enjoy every aspect of All-Star Battle, will find themselves spending countless hours trying to unlock every item.
CyberConnect 2 has once again treated a property with utmost respect, providing amazing fan service for fans looking to experience their manga come to life. Though All-Star Battle may lack the subtle nuances and balance to become a must play amongst the hard-core fighting community, there are some excellent moments to be had.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle provides a unique fighter that possesses a flamboyant nature, creating a charming experience as it brings life to the popular series. Newcomers may find themselves confused as to why certain fights are taking place within the Story Mode, but there is enough challenge and vibrant style to keep their attention regardless.
+ Vibrant, visual style
+ Extensive roster
+ Fan service
– Campaign Mode
– Online suffered from severe lag.
– Newcomers may be overwhelmed