JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle Review
We are going to start with the claim that the dashingly handsome Staff Writer responsible for the words you now read is the only games journalist in the country who has actually read all of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The manga series has been running for over 20 years in Japan and is a huge hit, but still remains almost entirely unknown in the west. Some gamers may be familiar with the last JoJo’s game to make it over here, a 2D fighter from Capcom released in the late 90s. Since then we’ve had nothing, which makes it all the more surprising that Bandai Namco decided to localize and release All Star Battle in the west.
All Star Battle is developed by CyberConnect2, the team behind the fantastic Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games, and fans of those titles will know what to expect. Beautiful graphics, over the top special moves and a metric ton of fanservice are the order of the day, and we love it.
JJBA: ASB is essentially a 2D fighting game, although one with limited 3D movement. The standard Street Fighter rules apply, with special moves performed with the same basic quarter-circle motions – this is a game best played with an arcade stick, although it never saw an arcade release. That said, there are no particularly difficult commands, with nothing more challenging than a basic hadouken motion, and as such pad players shouldn’t have any trouble.
Fighting game fans will feel immediately familiar with the various systems at play. Light, medium and heavy attacks all chain into each other (Marvel-style), and meter can be spent on super and ultra attacks as well as rapid-canceling your current move to continue your combo. Sounds pretty standard, right?
The game’s most original system is its “Style” button, although this is similar to the Drive system found in Blazblue. Characters are divided into 5 different styles, and this button does different things depending on what that style is. Many characters have a “Stand”, a physical representation of their psychic powers (basically, a big glowy monster person) that can be summoned or dismissed with the style button. Others use the “Hamon”, electricity power that charges up your super meter when you hold down the Style button. A couple of characters are even mounted, the Style button making them get on or off their horse – first time we’ve seen that in a fighting game. The variety in character types is massive, and helps in creating one of the most interesting casts in a fighting game today, whether you are familiar with the series or not.
It also raises some balancing issues, but that isn’t as much of a problem as you might think. This isn’t a “proper” fighting game in the way that something like Street Fighter is. While Street Fighter, Tekken and the like are designed to offer balanced, competitive-play at a high level, All Star Battle exists for one reason alone: fanservice. This isn’t a deep, balanced fighting game, but it isn’t trying to be. That isn’t to say it’s overly simple, and it’s easy to have great multiplayer games and learn decent combos.
But in terms of fanservice, the game delivers in spades. It helps that it looks phenomenal, perfectly aping the fabulous style of author Hirohiko Araki. Every action throws up sound effect visuals, and characters constantly strike poses from the manga, all rendered in a beautiful cel-shaded style. It really is one of the most stylish looking PS3 games we’ve ever played.
There’s a lot to do, with a story mode following each of the 8 long parts of the manga, a campaign mode which has you buffing up your character and fighting tougher foes, and all the other standard fighting game modes and galleries, including fighting others online. You won’t get bored in a hurry.
If ever there was a game intended entirely for fans, this is it. Almost every attack, special move, pose and quote in All Star Battle is taken directly from the manga, and the love that CyberConnect2 has for the source material is easy to see. Even the menus are “hosted’ and narrated by obscure characters that only the hardcore will recognize.
So, for gamers unaware of JoJo’s, All Star Battle will be a fun and stylish, but not particularly deep, 2D fighter. For fans though, it is one of the best examples of a game lovingly created to celebrate a long-running franchise. JoJo’s fans will love All Star Battle, but we don’t know if they are enough of them in the UK to really justify Namco’s decision to bring the game over here. Luckily, that is their problem, not ours. We are too busy striking fabulous poses and punching people in the face. ORA!
A fun if slightly shallow fighting game for most, JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure fans will absolutely adore All Star Battle. For that select few, this is a must have.