Developed By: CyberConnect2
Published By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Review Copy Provided By Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia
If the anime JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has a fighting game on it, I am in on it as the series is one of those memable classics. Despite the many other anime series in the past such as Dragonball and One Piece series, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is certainly one of those rare gem that needs more adaptations to show how unique it is. Suffice to say there are certainly challenges to translating the gem into a game as the manga and anime adaptations have a lot of more flamboyant, striking artstyle and noisy action on screen.
Unfortunately, All-Star Battle R is not really one of those game but rather more of a remaster of an old game that was released in 2012. To be honest, having not played the previous game, as I am playing All-Star Battle R – I have come to realize that although it nails the art and sounds, many other elements are lacking or feel off and allow me to tell you why. Here is my review of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R. (FYI, due to the lengthy title, I would refer to this as a Jojo game moving forward).
Gameplay – Yes, Yes, Yes and No, No, No!
I find Jojo’s gameplay to be somewhat of a mixed bag besides being 2D perspective in a 3D world fighting game. On one hand, I enjoyed the HUD, UI, art style, gallery, and some move sets are decently made as closely possible as the manga portrayal of the game. On the other, gameplay in general – some characters have very small hitboxes and few limited movesets that are similarly executed. Although Jojo’s anime and manga series pose extravagantly, they have so many moves, traps, and supers per character that anyone’s jaw will drop, making them a success in the first place since 1987.
In terms of the control execution schemes, they are simply grounded and can be as simple as pressing square button repeatedly to unleash all the combos from medium to heavy attacks leading up to a level one short cinematic super (using one bar of super in the process). Alternatively, players can raise up 2 bars of super that can be used to unleash a cinematic super via R2, refraining from pressing the square button repeatedly in the first place by pressing other buttons (triangle and circle) respectively, in which the moves are partly comprised of the original repeated square combo with a few supplementary moves in between.
While varied power types, Jojo game still tries its very best to balance the characters, there are times when certain characters will obviously stand out a lot more by having more reach, power, and surprise elements and are easier to execute in terms of delivering more damage – whereas others felt rather static or had limited moves in comparison. While this is possibly due to the fact that certain characters have lesser screen time or fewer fancy moves portrayed on screen. Jojo in my opinion should not limit all of the characters and simultaneously celebrate them by overpowering each of them in general. Overpowering in the sense that each character should also have their own moves fleshed out with a bit more combo executions, movesets, and more super cinematic that changes during a fight with a few story-driven characters such as Jojo and Dio stopping each other time to outwit each other.
Perhaps a more detailed tutorial or command list showing off many different types of combos and certain character nuances will help shed some light on more experimentation with my favorite characters such as draining enemies’ super bar by taunting after successfully completing a combo by example. Because so far the gameplay teaches me either to simplify the combos with a square button or to smash certain buttons until I practice the right combos for that specific character via practice mode without achieving somewhere in between. Come to think about it, some moves in the command list are quoted from the anime/manga, which left me pretty unsure of whether or not the moves triggered are the right ones intended. Only to find out later that the name of the moves executed is presented in a subtitle word on the left/right bottom side of the screen, right below the respective super bar.
Key elements in cinematic and minigame scenarios practically do not exist in this Jojo game; instead, they are presented in a chapter-based plot scenario called All-Star Battle, where specific key characters are pitted against each other based on an anime/manga-based main plot. The plot is presented as a chapter-based selectable comic designed panels sprinkled with extra ‘what if’ scenarios as an added crossover bonus such as Dio and his illegitimate son, Giorno.
Choosing certain comic panels comes with its own buffs and debuffs placed on players and the AI foe, trying to convey a similar sense of danger and urgency and intense moments, but this only felt like a surface-level effect. On the bright side, defeating your foes in a certain manner passes a checkpoint to not only earn coins but also unlock to shop-in gallery menu for art, 3d models, and sounds (music and voice) which is a welcome addition for fans like myself.
In addition to certain characters being overpowering, other characters’ moves in my opinion should also debuff their foes in certain ways, for example by taking away their supers, draining health, supers, poison, turning old, or even turning young as well, restricting them from attacking for a short and long period of time. Most of this should not only be solely available to level 2 supers of some characters but also extended to all other movesets as well. As each character has varying wacky styles of fighting while mounting a horse, summoning stands, or just pummeling spree action from various chapters of the series – each character should be equally deadly, fun, and unique on their own without relying on screentime in anime/manga to capture these moments. To me, the purpose of balancing in fighting games is not solely to place them in tournaments. Rather, it is to attract audiences to an anime series, be it newcomers as well as those who had missed certain chapters of the series.
Speaking of which, the level designs trap aka gimmicks such as car driving and knocking anyone in its path is seriously a welcoming feature as like the movesets topic above – more should be placed on each level (not just restricted to one) and more damaging with their own debuff as it feels rewarding to players who trap each other or a stronger enemy, much like the manga concept, catching foes by surprise.
As some characters’ movesets have the means of catching anyone by surprise like suddenly attacking from behind or not easily blockable and evaded. Every other character’s movesets or combos from my standpoint (pun intended) should be able to place a trap on their own to keep the fighting elements ridiculously fresh, wackier, and surprising. Like placing a spirit or stand wandering around the area and hitting enemies if they ever come across it with alternate moves or super.
In my brief online gameplay, there are times the waiting time for multiplayer gameplay can be a bit too lengthy with some minor hiccups of bad connections occurring but overall it’s pretty smooth from my end.
Animation, Art, and Design – This is … The World?
Unlike many fighters out there, Jojo’s game portrays many nuances and animations of models doing extravagant posing. And at the same time fending off foes while posing and walking like a fashion model is not an easy feat to depict.
To me, it just works as the animation and art department pretty much nailed the stylized sketch-shaded models with exaggerated scribbling actions of messy punching attacks and Japanese words sprawling across the screen. Representing the same sights and sounds as closely as possibly portrayed in the manga or anime origins which I liked. However, on the niche side, the sketched ink art style of 3d models tends to dull the color palletes – making the characters mildly blend in with the level design and the projectile attacks without any striking colors.
Additionally, projectile attacks also mostly look small-sized and underwhelming due to the design choices which shouldn’t be the case. In spite of the pummeling action, most attacks can sometimes be easily swayed away as the move tends to follow the linear landing path instead following the enemies. Dodge spamming to me felt almost like cheating as it can be done a lot of times without any proper usage of bar, limits, stamina, or repercussions from doing so that may spoil my experience of multiplayer online. Additionally, the dodging button (X) felt anticlimactic because it just moved the character briefly from side to side and that’s the only way to let the player know that they’re in a 3D world rather than a 2D one. In the end, the thing is that every character should be able to do is dodge differently and not be strictly affixed to one side pattern. And dodging at the right time should also come with different flavorful nuances or counterattack combos to follow up, rather than merely dodging and stopping time if done correctly just for the sake of it.
Storytelling And Cinematic – Without Context
Storytelling is practically none existent to me, hence this is the first time I am playing an anime game without any story context.
Cinematic-wise, the only movie that opens up is the main menu and the in-game introduction scene with brief banter between the characters before the fight begins, followed by some cinematic supers and ends, but everything else is silent without any context.
While I do follow a lot of the manga and anime of the Jojo series to understand the banter and level gimmicks – I got completely lost when the game gets to the eighth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure chapters. Hence, I can imagine that newcomers who have never read or watched certain chapters will be completely lost in translation.
Sounds and Music – Simply Electrifying
This game is littered with decent music that treats players with jazzy spunks tunes in the main menu before blasting in with electric guitars in-game. Well, I am not complaining as this fits the right tone of the whole series which is mainly loud and proud. I really do like the voice work, but most of the pummeling and bashing sounds are at times a hit-and-miss for me since some sounds are oddly distant like punching air, and water cardboards instead of more impactful sounds. Possibly, the constant loud electrifying tunes tend to overlap or drown out the volume of the action.
What I Liked About JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R
- Art – Spot-on style with sketch graphics, messy but true to the art of the manga/anime.
- Voice acting and Music – Fits the tone and voice of the series.
- Gallery Mode – A great addition for fans like myself.
- Gameplay – Casual fun element with simple square button mash to get one super cinematic.
- 50 characters – So many to choose from
What I Wished Was Better
- Some attacks aren’t connecting properly – Low hitboxes and moves following a linear straight path instead of the enemy. Assist from other characters felt like a one-off deal.
- Some characters have more advantages – Others should either have more moves or easily debuff foes with their movesets. Dodging elements should have their own follow-up attack and specials, not just slow-down time.
- Level designs can be better – should have more dangerous gimmicks/traps alongside characters should be able to alter the level with traps and interruptions to their advantage from their end too.
- No story context- which is to me an essential element to all anime fighting games and pitting certain characters against each other should have their own separate cinematics and special moves too.
- Art and animation – certain lack of facial expressions and sketch art style tends to dull the colors slightly, making it weathered or dated.
- Tutorials and command lists – need to be fleshed out and guided from medium to advance combos to be shown.
Verdict – Ora! Here’s Your Receipt
This begs to question of what makes a fighting game enjoyable to you. If you do like a casual fighter in which you choose your favorite fighter, experiment with combo moves, and just fight, then this game is for you. In contrast, if you are a newcomer and have only seen a few chapters of Jojo anime/manga, the game does not provide enough context of storytelling and context that are needed to fill in the gaps. To me, I enjoyed this game in a casual sense but not long enough to stay invested enough to explore more. While the art style, music, character animations, fan service, and voice work are definite must-haves. It’s still lacking as a standalone fighting game and rewatching storyline cinematics for nostalgic or catching-up reasons. To sum it up, the Jojo game is only for fans who want to relive the wacky and wild moment in-game in a short brief burst of fun and just move on.