For the uninitiated, the constant wave of previously Japanese-only titles getting a Western release can be extremely daunting. Despite the recent successes of Persona 4 Golden, Catherine, and even the likes of Demon’s Souls, there still exists a barrier that very few people are willing to cross in the name of newer, more unusual experiences. One of the latest titles to be translated even brazenly bears the word ‘bizarre’ in its name – and it does one hell of a job living up to it.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a popular culture phenomenon in the Land of the Rising Sun. Beginning as a manga in the mid-1980s, it’s gone on to spawn television shows, films, and a few games – the first of which launched in 1993. As the manga continues to this day, the plot is incredibly vast and very complicated, but the basic gist is as follows: Jonathon Joestar, a member of a powerful English family, has a falling out with his adopted brother Dio Brando after an incident with an ancient mask causes a few vampiric and world dominative side-effects.
As the years have passed, so have the various generations of Joestars and Brandos, with all of them locking horns with one another at some point. There’s something really poetic about an inter-family feud lasting several generations, and thankfully you can now try to settle it in one way or another in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle – by kicking and punching your opponent harder and faster than they can kick and punch you.
In our hands-on session, we were provided with access to two parts of the finished product: Versus and Arcade. These two modes are much what you’d expect, with the former seeing you take on a friend or computer controlled opponent, while the latter sees you work your way through a ladder trying to beat everyone that you come up against without losing.
The fighting itself feels responsive and suitably bonkers, with each of the 32 playable characters having their own unique movesets and art style, including an immensely flamboyant and entertaining walking animation. Indeed, so hilarious is some of their ambling that we would take the time at the start of each fight to inspect it thoroughly before pummelling our opponent into submission.
Typical fighting game controls also apply here, meaning a seasoned veteran from the world of Street Fighter will take to it like a duck to water. There are the slower, heavier attacks and fast jabs, plus, a successful chain of offense will allow you to unleash a more powerful super move that not only looks completely mad, but takes off a serious amount of the victim’s health bar, too. Some characters even come equipped with robot sidekicks and mountable steeds, although we found this only served to make our victories that much sweeter.
As has become common in the genre, the title also sports arenas that don’t simply take place on a 2D plane. You can dash and move around areas relatively freely while still facing your opponent, and stage-exclusive third-party interferences will pop up from time to time as well – including collapsing debris, a strange creature that latches itself onto the nearest player, and an irate, knife-swinging chef that darts around the screen.
Furthermore, if you’re a fan of the manga, you can breathe a sigh of relief that the incredibly reverent CyberConnect2 is handling this interpretation. Being developed by the same studio responsible for the Naruto series, the Japanese-based developer is frequently praised for its respectfully accurate licensed games, and this is no different.
As previously mentioned, each character from every generation of Joestar thus far comes equipped with their own unique fighting abilities and animations, but perhaps most importantly of all, they’re appropriately designed so that each fighter looks the same as in their original manga run.
So, as far as the outsider is concerned, this may just be another bonkers Japanese localisation with a limited potential audience, but thanks to a lovingly respectful and competent developer, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle has the potential to not only please fans of the manga, but also fighting game aficionados as well.
Are your fists of fury clenched tightly in anticipation for this title? Show us your all-star move in the comments section below.