Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a manga series that was originally published in 1986 in Weekly Shonen Jump. The series became popular enough to spawn an anime series, as well as a few video game titles that appeared on the Super Famicom, original PlayStation, Dreamcast, and PlayStation 2. Despite the quirkiness and over-the-top presentation of the entire anime, the series became popular enough to warrant the creation of another game for the PlayStation 3. Yet having a unique personality and bright presentation doesn’t always mean having a great game.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle follows suit with many other anime based fighting games that have been released before. You have your story mode that takes many elements from the anime, arcade mode to get into the fighting without much fluff, online and offline versus, as well as other niche modes and unlockables to keep fans of the series happy for a while. What is immediately noticeable is the presentation All-Star Battle has no shame in taking to the extreme. Menus, characters, and stages are bright and colorful even in the darkest sections or areas. There is a subtle ink style to the character models, stages, and effects that give a very manga-like presentation, which also has a similar feel to the same style seen in a game like Street Fighter 4.
The fighting itself is very fast paced and can be deeply explored by executing combos and special moves in the heat of battle. There is a variety to the fighting styles that help differentiate each character on the roster; some characters may use traditional fighting methods while others mix things up with fighting powers called “stand”. This sometimes causes some unbalance in the matchups between characters that are unlocked from playing through the Story Mode, as some fighters have more moves and options to launch attacks than others. And while competitively this can raise some eyebrows, those just looking for a casual fun time will indulge themselves in the ease to adopt controls and flashy move sets.
Most of the main issues with All-Star Battle come in the form of smaller problems that eventually build up the more you play the game. From the very time you boot up on your console, the game is constantly reminding you to download campaign data in order to use certain characters that can be unlocked from playing the Story Mode, as well as in the Campaign mode which is similar to that of Tekken Revolution’s arcade mode. At first glance this seems like a mundane issue, but the game continuously reminds you to exit out to the online store and download the data, yet surprisingly it continues to do so even after you download everything necessary to continue onward. This is a silly technical issue that could have been solved by simply including the data on the disk or by having a mandatory update/install the first time the game is turned on.
Playing through Story Mode is where most players will spend their time with All-Star Battle. The story is broken down into a series of parts with a set number of chapters, each with an opponent to fight and various conditions to fulfill, most of which match up to the events in the anime/manga series. The big downer here is that a lot of the story is glanced over and lost in favor of jumping into the action, as well as overly repetitive fights that have players fighting the same character multiple times consecutively.
Most games in the genre based on anime series put a lot of effort into replicating events from the anime, both in cutscenes and during gameplay. All-Star Battle completely drops this and instead limits story elements to small text sequences with some voice-over sections. This is a shame as many of the big moments and fights from the anime could have looked incredible to see play out on screen. What’s more is how events in each part of Story Mode only take place in one stage, with no transitions to coincide with the plot. This comes off as rushed or outright lazy and definitely a wasted opportunity to take examples from other games in the genre that have executed a story mode much better, such as the Naruto or One Piece games.
Online is almost non-existent for All-Star Battle. Finding a match online is nearly impossible and can feel like a waste of time when in match-making for both Ranked and Casual matches. If you do happen to find someone to play with online, be prepared for possibly the slowest animations on screen due to poor net code and matchmaking. Despite setting a search to find players within the same region, matchmaking will still at times match with other people continents away and make for some horrible connections, making matches completely unplayable. This is a real shame because much of the replayablity of All-Stars is lost because of the difficulty to get a stabilized match online, something all fighting games must cater to in this day and age.
For fans of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure this is not the ideal game you have been waiting for. While the presentation is faithful to the anime/manga and caters to the basic expectations of what a Jojo game should encompass, poor execution and silly mistakes drag this experience down severely. Many of the same things that have been out in other anime based video games are done poorly, with little to no attention to important details.
Newcomers to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure will receive only a lackluster overview of what the series is about, despite its attempt to have a unique, bold-looking fighting game. The lack of stable online play completely brings down the value of what could have been an amazing fighting game based on a series oozing with personality. This just isn’t the Jojo game you are looking for.
This review was based on a digital copy of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle for the PlayStation 3 and was provided by Namco Bandai Games.