Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is based
on Hirohiko Araki's long-running manga series, featuring over 40 characters
taken from all 8 story arcs of the series. The game was made to celebrate the
25th anniversary of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series.
14 fighters to
start... 18 unlockable in-game... plus 8 DLC!
"It's not a fighting game, it's a
JoJo game," said CyberConnect2 CEO, Hiroshi Maruyama, when the game was first announced. I
didn't know what to make of that
statement when I first heard it, but at the time, I wasn't positive if I'd be
continuing coverage of the game on TFG. As it would turn out, Jojo's Bizarre
Adventure: All-Star Battle
is mostly a fighting game.
However, it might not be the type of game that some fighting game players of
today might be expecting.
Based on Hirohiko Araki's iconic manga series, JJBA: ASB is
obviously a huge fan service for anyone who has
followed the series over the years. Unlike some of the more "mainstream"
manga & anime out there, the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure seriesactuallyhasn't seen many video game adaptations. A true cult classic, Capcom's JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
2D fighter from back in 1998 was based solely on "Part 3"of
the series (Stardust Crusaders), and kick-started interest in the Jojo
series to a new fanbase. As the spiritual successor, All Star Battle offers a much more comprehensive roster
(over 40 characters),
spanning across the 8 story arcs of the series (1987-2011).
The stylized cel-shaded
graphics engine provides an unparalleled level of nostalgia for fans, and
impressively manages to capture the manga's iconic art style. What makes All-Star
Battle interesting is that it
rips many iconic scenes straight from the manga, cleverly bringing them to life
during gameplay (in fact, here are some fan-made videos
that demonstrate this). While only hardcore fans will appreciate some of the references at
first glance, it would seem that All Star Battle aims to bring new
fans into the insanely imaginative universe, as well.
There is seriously no
shortage of stylish JoJo poses... this game has 'em all!
As a "fan service" sort
of game, the gameplay engine likely wasn't the top priority of the
dev-team... unlike most tried-and-true fighting games of today. First of all, if you're
looking for a fighting game catered to hardcore Super Street Fighter 4 players who
study frames and memorize 100's of different match-ups... you should probably
just stick with SSF4.
Clearly, the main goal of JJBA was not to become the next headliner at
EVO; I'm pretty sure
the creators couldn't care less, actually. However, it's also clear that the
dev-team did put some significant thought and effort into the fighting mechanics.
In fact, most of the infinites and character balance issues found early
on were swiftly patched. While some overlying flaws still remain, the gameplay
manages to offer a unique and very aesthetically pleasing experience. For the most part, All Star Battle
plays like any familiar 2D fighting game. However, there's a 3D sidestep
mechanic, allowing fighters to move a full 360 degrees around their opponent. Characters can quickly sidestep at any time - great
for dodging projectiles and linear attacks. Furthermore, "Stylish
Moves" are special dodges which stylishly slow down the
action when they occur (and they look pretty awesome, indeed).
Stylish Moves are done by tapping "back" as soon as an
attack is blocked. They also deplete the Guard Gauge, which can result in a guard
break when a player is being too defensive.
Characters have a standard amount of specials, along
with flashy super moves (called Heart Heat Attacks), and mind-blowing "level 2" super
moves (Great Heat Attacks). Interestingly,
there are several different character "types" in All Star Battle. Each fighter makes use of the universal "Style" button
differently. Characters like Jonathan & Joseph Joestar can strike a pose and "charge up" to fill their super
gauge. Other fighters (most) have a "stand" whom they can call out to fight
alongside them and can perform a variety of unique moves. Lastly, Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli fight on
horseback (or on foot). Depending on which "mode" the character is in, they will have different priority & special moves at their
disposal. In addition, some characters, like Dio (with
his classic 'Za Warudo!' technique), can completely "freeze" their opponent for a brief period of time,
leaving them totally defenseless while they get knocked around.
The diversity between the different types of fighters is pretty intriguing and
fun to discover. While
there are tons of awesome-looking, exclusive attacks per character, I think most
characters could use a few more
options in terms of their play styles, overall.
Similar to some old school 2D fighters, characters in JJBA: ASB have a limited amount of
priority / basic moves, making their options pretty limited.
The combo system is definitely "simplified" and a bit stiff when compared to
most fighters these days. The game features a basic chain combo system (Weak, Medium, Strong). Each
character also has at least one basic command attack which can also be strung
into combos. Similar to Persona 4 Arena's auto-combo system, All Star
Battle's "Easy Beat" system allows beginner players to sequentially tap
one button and pull off a full combo, complete with a super
move! It's certainly easy for a new player to jump in and start having fun. For
more advanced players, there
is also canceling system in place, enabling longer, more impressive-looking
Indeed, there are some badass combos in this game (some that even
include taunts, mind you)!
I think an air combo system would've greatly improved the fun factor of All-Star
Battle, but the combo system in place is easy to comprehend at least. While JJBA: ASB
isn't nearly as deep or balanced as other fighters, it's certainly
fun to watch (possibly more fun to watch
than some mainstream 2D fighters right now, if
you ask me).
You'd be hard-pressed to
find more epic super moves!
To wrap up the gameplay details... All Star Battle also features
"Stage Hazards" that go into effect when characters approach a specific
area of the background. These hazards can range from speeding cars, to falling chandeliers,
to blue toads raining from the sky. In any case, hilarity will ensue!
In addition, "Situation Finishes" will occur on most
stages when a character wins with a super move and, like everything else, are based
on actual events from the manga. (When specific characters are used on their
story-oriented stage, Situation Finishes will faithfully recreate classic events
from the manga!) Last but not least,
"Rush Mode" is a clash system, requiring both players to mash buttons
winner being the player who mashes the fastest. Rush doesn't occur very
often, but looks awesome when it does!
Thanks to the epic camera angles and unique style of animation, the
overall "ouch factor" of the game is quite satisfying. The trademark
"machine gun punch" barrages performed by many of the series
characters never looked better, and the intensity of the super moves
rivals if not succeeds some of Street Fighter IV's. Normally
I would scoff at such long, drawn-out super moves (especially since they're
performed and connected so easily by the player), but JJBA's supers are
so damn intense, dramatic, and many are surprisingly entertaining to watch over and over
One thing I really like about JJBA's animation is that nearly ALL
exclusive to each
I'm talking about walking animations, crouch animations, jumping animations (in all 3 directions),
falling animations, and of course ALL their attacks. Speaking of their
attacks, there are so many ridiculously unique attacks in All Star
Battle, that words can't even describe them. Each character even has two
unique throws, which zoom in the camera (almost Tekken style) and look
excellent. Amazingly fleshed-out character-specific details like these go
a long way in my book, and really allow each of the characters to stand out from
one another. A ton of these subtle animations are also throwbacks to specific
panels from the manga. Again, the fan service is simply off the charts! The weirdly charismatic characters of
the JoJo series
shine through the animation quality of All Star Battle.
If you're new to the series, and perhaps you
thought King of Fighters had a lot of "flamboyant" male
designs, you haven't seen anything yet.
While these types of character designs aren't for everybody, they're nonetheless
original in nearly every way imaginable, and naturally have translated very well as fighting game
characters.Jojo characters are simply a different breed, and you'd be
hard-pressed to find a single moment when they're not overflowing with
personality during gameplay.
A catchy art direction
that captures the integrity from the manga.
Other noteworthy visual aspects about the game: The epic 3/4th's angle when characters
become really far apart, and the slow-mo effect during K.O., which naturally
highlights various details of the
animation (just like SF4). There's also a ton of "manga style" eye candy
that pops up all over the screen during gameplay, successfully blurring the
line between comic and fighting game. The only major flaw is that the game's
rate runs at around 30 frames per second (whereas most fighting games are 60
FPS). What's worse, is when there's a lot on the screen at once (such as two
fighters on horseback), the frame rate drops significantly and there's even some
slowdown. If your TV has a "motion enhance" option, it might actually
help the frame rate in some minor instances, but it's really a shame ASB couldn't
Besides the basic modes like
Versus & Online Versus, All-Star Battle features two main single
player modes: Campaignand Story.
is an online-based mode, set up similar to many "free-to-play"
mobile games. To play this mode, players use credits from what looks like a
battery gauge. This gauge refills by one bar every 5 minutes, but players can
purchase new credits (with real money) if they don't want to wait for it to
refill. Players can also purchase various power-up cards to unlock stuff more
quickly, but thankfully, these shameless micro-transactions aren't required to
enjoy the game. (On the subject of micro-transactions, I'm sure some players
also won't be happy about having to buy the additional DLC characters... but
they're only $2-$3 each.) Finally, All-Star Battle features a Customize
mode allowing players to customize character taunt and victory sequences.
Here's the scoop on Campaign: The mode has 4 options from
top to bottom - Campaign, Medal List, Ranking & Support Items. "Medal
List" is a list of every medal you've collected for each character. Medals
represent all the customization items you have access to; poses, colors,
dialogue lines, etc. In "Ranking," players can view other players and
their rank online (along with their own). Finally, "Support Items"
links to the PSN store and players can buy various power-ups with real
money. In Campaign, players either
fight against "boss"
characters or ghost characters (called "visions") based on other players. For bosses, you slowly drain their HP as you win battles against them.
Players can also wager additional credits to take more life away from the bosses. Upon defeating
them, you're awarded with alternate color palettes, new costumes, victory poses
and/or new taunts. There are also some mini-games that pop up in Campaign,
such as "pick a card" and a "rock, paper, scissors" game.
Lastly, Story Mode is a bit of a let down, especially when
considering the game visually resembles a comic book.
Story is broken up into 8 parts (just like the manga), each part starring
the main protagonist of that series. Each chapter features a ton of text &
spoken voiceovers, and the gameplay events involve respective heroes & villains battling
it out (sometimes, repeatedly). Even
though these consecutive fights are canon in the storyline, it can get pretty monotonous for the player, and it doesn't help that all of the fights take place on the same stage.
Aside from a few "alternate gameplay situations" that I won't spoil,
Story Mode is mostly a bore. On the bright side, Story does provide an unfolding
written "summary" of each major part of the manga, which definitely
helps to understand the story if you don't feel like reading all 8 mangas (However,
beware of spoiler alerts!). On the bright side, your time spent in Story will
earn you points used to unlock extras in the Gallery (complete with a cool 3D
Model Viewer, Art Gallery, Sound Test & JoJo Glossary)... and it gives away some easy
the hardcore JJBA fan, there is a shipload of memorable dialogue to listen
to, but the awesome voice actors alone don't save the mode from feeling uninspired.
After nearly 14 years of absence, it's a real
treat to see
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure return to the fighting genre (and look so damn
good)! Visually, Jojo's
Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle quickly distinguishes itself from other
fighters. The cool cel-shaded graphics engine, shamelessly
charismatic animations, "in-your-face" camera angles during super
moves, and manga-inspired touches give the game a very unique personality.
To put it bluntly, you've never seen anything like JJBA: All-Star Battle.
It's more than a worthy successor to the first JoJo fighting game and
turned out to be a really unique fighting game on its own. Some hardcore fighting game players
may scoff at the
simpler mechanics and the somewhat "slow" gameplay speed, but there's a certain "old school" mixed with
"new school" charm that I like about the gameplay.
JJBA: All Star Battle is definitely a "casual" fighting game in most
areas... but it can
also be pretty fun once you learn the ropes. Considering this game was made for fans of the series
(not ultra nitpicky FGC people), gameplay really isn't "everything"
in a game like this. Also worth mentioning is that many character movesets are
actually deeper than they may seem at first (so give everyone a try)! There's a lot to
enjoy from a fighting game fan's perspective, especially if you're one to
appreciate "art style" and pleasing aesthetics.
The 40+ unique characters give players a ton to experiment with, and the
colorful, otherworldly backgrounds really set the vibe of the universe. The Japanese
version isn't difficult to get into for English-speaking folks who import, but
things can get a bit confusing in the Campaign & Story Mode. Thankfully, All
Star Battle made its way to the West in 2014, complete with subtitles!
English subtitles alone do enhance the overall enjoyment of the game,
especially since there's a plethora of Japanese voiceovers throughout (even in the game's
various menus, which feature tons of character cameos).
CyberConnect2 clearly put a ton
of heart into this game... something that shouldn't be overlooked. The fact that
All Star Battle spans across
the entire series, from the first manga in 1987, all the way to part 8 in 2011, is an insane
accomplishment in itself.
Even if you're not very familiar with the JoJo series, All Star Battle is the
perfect excuse to venture into this eccentric universe. ~TFG