So, this one came out of nowhere, huh? I’ve owned and have been playing this since its release, but only thought to review it now. Ah well, better late than never.
Firstly, some context: “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is a manga that’s been running since the 80s- it’s split into several parts and each one follows a different descendant of the first JoJo- Victorian English gentleman Jonathan Joestar. There’s also an anime, which is currently adapting the most well-known and generally most liked section- Part 3. It’s colourful, over the top, surprisingly violent and I love it. At the time of writing I’ve seen the first two parts of the anime and read the epic (that word gets used a lot but it really is) manga of part 3 (the manga is currently on part 8), and was really anticipating the localised release of the game.
As you can probably tell from the title, it’s a fighting game that includes characters from all eight parts- the protagonists, their allies and antagonists and condenses the stories of each part in a story mode (except for part 8, which is a protagonist boss rush). Now, I’m no fighting game expert, but I do really enjoy them, and I can do my best to review it as both a fighting game, and as a piece of JoJo fan service.
As a fighting game, it’s quite simple, particularly compared to the other JoJo fighting game on PSN- “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD” (Which I recommend). Feature wise it’s pretty standard fare- eight round arcade mode, versus mode (VS COM, Local and Online), a Story Mode and practice. The stand-out here (for better or worse) is Campaign mode. Story and Campaign are where all the unlocks are- Campaign gets you costumes and story mode gets you characters. More on both of those shortly. There are 41 characters in total with nine released as DLC, and they fit into five different styles- hamon, stand, mode, mounted and vampirism. Practically though, this doesn’t make a whole lot of difference- hamon characters can hold a button to fill their super meters, Stand characters fight with stands (obviously), etc. but while it doesn’t make a huge difference it does add some variety. I said the game is simple, and that’s for one main reason: though you can control it like a normal fighting game- stringing together different button presses to form combos, activating super moves with specific controller motions- it can also be controlled with two buttons and an analogue stick. Repeatedly pressing the square button will take your character through a long combo consisting of several special moves and ending in their super, while with a 2/3 full super meter pressing L1 will activate your character’s ultra. Now as I said this isn’t the only way to control the game, but it may put some people off, particularly those competing online. I don’t have a problem with it so much though- the game does place emphasis on timing and movements, and despite the simplistic controls you can’t just pick anyone and hammer your way to victory. This will work some of the time, but will often get you a beating, particularly if you pick a character with no “ORA ORA ORA!” attack (for those who don’t know, it’s basically a whole load of quick, strong punches so fast it looks like the attacker has multiple arms).
Story mode falls rather short- it can only work with the characters and stages it has (which is uneven; parts 1 and 2 have one stage each, while parts 4, 5 and 6 have two, for example), meaning that the game’s attempts to stage important battles from the manga are lacking at best and crap at worst- all of part 2’s fights take place in the Colosseum and all of 3’s on a street in Egypt, but that’s nothing compared to part six, which is the primary protagonist fighting the primary antagonist three times in a row in the same place. Fortunately, it’s over quickly and it unlocks all of the non-DLC characters, including both versions of DIO. Campaign mode is an odd one. Basically you choose a numbered campaign, and fight either a boss character (defeating them earns you costumes, taunts and the like), or an avatar with an online tag. Various characters from the stories turn up to help you out against bosses, and one helps you by making a boss show up more often. Now for the odd part- in order to search for a boss, damage the boss and pay the characters that help you you have to use up parts of a segmented battery that represents your energy. You can pay microtransactions to buy items that refill the bar, but it refills at a rate of two minutes per segment, which I’ve found to be quick enough to not bother with said microtransactions.
So it’s an enjoyable if mixed bag as a fighting game, but what about as JoJo fan service? Well, that’s where it shines. The characters all look fantastic- alternate costumes can sometimes turn them into different carnations of the character (DIO in particular has this- so far I’ve got regular, jacketed DIO, powered-up beast DIO and Shadow DIO). The moves are all accurate to the manga, and the special moves are almost entirely named after quotes. The outlandish poses from the manga make an appearance in several places. If you like the manga or anime, you’ll like this- it translates incredibly well into its look and style. It’s incredibly accurate. If anything, this is why you’d buy the game- I bought it to re-enact fights from the anime, mainly.
There’s a clear divide as to whether you should buy this, and the game has a clear audience. If you’re a fan of the anime and/or manga and want a game that lovingly re-creates the characters, locations, poses, moves and all in great detail while also being a fun albeit simple fighting game, this is for you- I love it. If you’re looking for a more challenging, technical fighting game, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.
By James Lambert