You'll love it if:
- You are a JoJo fan.
- You aren't very good at complicated fighting games.
- Posing in front of the mirror after gym is what you do daily.
Not for you if:
- You have no idea what JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is.
- You like pressing 30 buttons to do a complicated combo.
- You haven't yet finished watching all the JoJo anime.
I, honest to god, don’t really know how to start this review. For this to make comprehensive sense for everyone I need to provide information that’s so dense it can actually be used as heat insulation in the cold Northern European climate. So I have bravely decided that I…won’t. I will assume that not only are you a fan of JoJo but probably obsessed with it. Now, now…calm down. I can already hear you superfans screaming about me not helping more people be introduced to the media. Because, god forbid, your JoJo cult doesn’t get any more new members for a second. I’ve been asked to watch this anime more times than I have been asked if I want Jesus Christ as my lord and savior by Jehova witnesses. Nevertheless, I will also provide a very small introduction to the background themes of the game so those fortunate souls that don’t make poses every time they hear Giorno’s theme on Tik Tok have a clear view of the tip of the iceberg.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Review TL;DR
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is a JoJo-themed battler by fans and for the fans. It has done a great job being faithful to the source material in all the right ways. The graphics and aesthetics are crisp, competent, and most of all-over-the top as any JoJo-styled art should be. The Sound and especially the voice acting deliver the uniqueness and the grandiose themes of the series wonderfully even though the music leaves something to be desired. If you are a JoJo super fan, then this is a must-buy for you. If not then I wouldn’t recommend it except maybe on a big sale.
The first one is always free
Why am I here though? What horrible atrocities had I committed in my previous life to end up as a JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure fan? Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know though is that god damn do I love this fucking series. There have been only two attempts to animate this saga. The first one was almost 30 years ago in 1993 with only a short part of the story coming to screens. David Productions, having a pair of testicles that are so big they have their own gravity, decided to animate the series completely in 2012. That was also my introduction to JoJo. At that time I had just seen the retro cover art for the anime, felt amused, and decided to watch the first episode. Nothing was ever the same.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown
I was a kid that grew up knowing One Piece and Naruto when it comes to shounen anime. JoJo though, was something different. The only way I can describe it is Baki the Grappler meets Jules Verne Around The World In 80 Days. It is ridiculous, over the top, and has a more than fanatical fan base in Japan. This isn’t hyperbole. The manga came out in 1987 shattering what everyone knew, at the time, as the golden standard. After that everything that you know about Japanese animation has been influenced by JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure…and I mean EVERYTHING. JoJo is the anime Bible. A multi-generational saga about a family and their adventures on this planet. Do you now get my comment about David Productions’ testicle size?
All images have been taken in-game or from the game’s steam page
Enough dilly-dallying then. What is JoJo about? Well as I mentioned before it’s the story of a family. Starting in the eighteen hundreds and reaching through the centuries to today. The protagonist of every season or “part” as is mentioned changes every time with a new threat being introduced and new adventures to be had at every corner. And it’s not just the main plot that changes.
Honestly, Hirohiko Araki doesn’t give a shit. The aforementioned author of this acid trip of a manga will, with no hesitation, completely change the setting, villain, or even power system of any part. Welcome to part 4! Where the setting is a small town in Japan and the protagonist is a student. Part 5, you ask? Of course, it takes place in Italy and the main character is part of the mafia. If you liked the characters using the power of the battle breathing technique, Hamon in part 2, then you gonna love the manifestation of a Stand that’s created by a meteorite arrow to fight a time-stopping vampire in part 3.
To put it in other words, this is magic. Strange, whimsical, over-the-top, pure magic. JoJo has what ninety percent of the forgetful trash that’s out there doesn’t. JoJo has a soul. Araki is an artistically talented molder of flesh. You just can’t help but watch in horror, fear, fascination, and be in admiration of the skills that create this flawed but masterful abomination. To call JoJo unique is to call the ocean wet. Accurate enough in its way but wholly insufficient to the task.
The non-existence of a story
After my rant I realise that there was always gonna be a problem in this review. You see, it is very difficult to separate the video game from the anime/manga and judge it objectively. I am gonna try my best though, and if an aneurysm kills me during this thought process then so be it. There are worse ways to die after all, hopefully.
There is no story. No, you read correctly. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R has absolutely nothing new when it comes to the story. This is a pure-blooded battler. All-star battle is the only mode with a semblance of progression. In this mode, you are able to play some signature fights from the anime and progress through them gaining a currency that will be used for other things.
And this is where the problems start. If you are a JoJo fan and came here to experience something new then I’m sorry my friend, you came to the wrong place. On the other hand, if for some god-forsaken reason you bought this game without being involved with the JoJo anime then you will be more lost and confused than a casual gamer watching Dark Souls lore videos.
Presentation and aesthetics
This game and the medium it was based on have a very important thing in common. They both looked absolutely fucking incredible. The presentation of this game is more faithful to the anime than your son’s face resembling the mailman. You simply don’t understand. This is the JoJo theme park my dear reader and the developers want you to know it. From the menu to the character screen, everything has been thematically doused in JoJo references. The options to exit a battle are even famous phrases that characters use during the series. From a thematic point of view this is a JoJo Big bang and you better be ready for it.
Characters and design
The characters of JoJo are incredibly unique. This medium has entertained personalities that will stay with you for a long time if you undertake the labor of watching some of its parts. The question is: Has the game translated all that artistic spirit that each character possesses well from the anime? The answer is YES! YES! YES! JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Dress-up has done an amazing job when it comes to animation, colour, and even customization. The Shop and Gallery mode gives you the ability to view 2D and 3D art related to the anime. More importantly though, it allows you to change the colour palettes and the outfits of all the characters. This is Dress-Up Barbie the JoJo edition people…and it’s beautiful. You can literally stay and gawk at the character models for hours and admire the workmanship. Was I satisfied? Yes. Will I continue to play with my own JoJo-themed digital doll house for a while more? Also, Yes.
Gameplay and Mechanics
The finger breaker
I’ve got good things to say about the gameplay, and I’ve got bad things to say as well. Let’s start with the good ones. I’m not really a fighting game fan. I actually have minimal experience with them. So, when I got my hands on the game, I was afraid that my lack of experience would make it very hard to effectively play. Good thing it didn’t matter. If you want the 27-button combination combo that gives you finger cramps, then this game isn’t for you. (You might want to check out Sifu though). This can be a positive and a negative depending on what kind of player you are. For me it was great. All the combos of the game are small, concise, and easily remembered. Now that doesn’t mean that they aren’t distinct. It just means that you really don’t have to torture yourself by pausing every 5 seconds to check the move screen in case you missed an input.
Now we come to the juicy part. Remember when I said before that Araki changes power systems like he’s got only 1 week to live and a ledger full of them? Well, they actually can be used to categorise the characters. On the selection screen, over the name, there is a sub-category named “Style”. There you can see what kind of power the character you have selected is using. If your character’s style is “Stand” for example, then they can summon a manifestation of their powers and punch the shit out of the enemy while having a bit of distance. Maybe it’s “Hamon”, meaning that your character will fight in a more aggressive melee style using that specific battle technique. There are also some that are only unique to one or two characters but I don’t want to get into them because I’ll have to use spoilers. And I prefer no one sending me an improvised small explosive device in my mail.
Sound and voice acting
When it comes to sound we traverse a bridge of extremes. Music is unfortunately bland and forgetful. Something I would never have expected to say about a game bearing the JoJo license. There may be a good track here and there but the majority just doesn’t do it for me. On the other hand, the sound effects of the environment and the fights are crispy beyond belief. Whenever Jotaro uses his Stand to bash some guy’s skull in, you can actually hear and feel the impact making it a very satisfying and memorable experience.
The best part by far though is the voice acting. It is all that any JoJo fan could ever hope for. The actors are extremely suited to their roles and provide lines with proficiency, precision, and most of all passion. These characters sound good…and the game knows it. Every time you start the game a new character will be narrating what your choices will be in the menu. And all of them do a fantastic job of it. There are multiple taunts for every character, multiple voice lines for every move, and even beyond that multiple interactions between the characters. The amount of voice work that went into this game is absolutely staggering. Thousands of voice lines are narrated by dozens of actors. They needn’t go that far. The fact that they did, shows you that when it comes to JoJo, these people do not fuck around. And from my personal point of view, this is greatly appreciated.
I have mixed feelings about this game. It feels like being close to the unlikeable child of a very good friend. You can see the resemblance, the similar characteristics, and some of the reasons that you love your friend in it but the child still keeps being annoying and unpleasant to be around. If it wasn’t for the JoJo theme I think that this game would not be a consistent experience for even a fighting game fan, since it doesn’t provide a lot of challenges with its combos and controls. If you would like a JoJo toy box then maybe this is for you. But with the simple edition costing 50 euros, the deluxe 70, and an actual season pass for 20? No, I can’t recommend this in good faith. Wait for a sale or play it on a split screen with a friend. I really appreciate Bandai Namco for a free copy of the game. Have a good one.