You might have noticed over the last year or so that there’s been a lot of discussion about a new game based on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. You may also recall another title based on the series, developed by Capcom and released on the much lauded CPS3 arcade architecture. It was also ported to the PlayStation and Dreamcast, and recently received an HD rerelease on current consoles.
Aside from being based off the same source material, these are two very different beasts. Nevertheless, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle has been gaining a lot of steam since its announcement back in February. While the game may not share the exact DNA of its CPS3 counterpart, it certainly has a few tricks of its own to make it stand out as something promising.
Here are a few things you should know about JJBA:ASB (wow, that’s a long acronym) if you haven’t been keeping up with the deluge of news.
IT’S BEING DEVELOPED BY CYBERCONNECT2
If you’ve ever played the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series, you’ll know who these guys are. They’ve been in charge of Naruto fighting games since time immemorial. But in 2009, they flipped a lot of expectations around with Ultimate Ninja Storm—a new approach to the franchise with highly-polished, expressive graphics as well as a revamped combat system. It’s worked, and the series has pushed big numbers along with some strong review scores ever since.
The strength of those Naruto games lied in the understanding of the source material’s aesthetic. Say what you want about CyberConnect 2, but they certainly understand how to represent a series faithfully. Hirohiko Araki’s striking art style pops fluidly onto the screen in All Star Battle, and the characters come to life quite vibrantly. And while CyberConnect completely threw out the traditional fighting game rulebook to work on those Naruto games, they’ve stuck to it a little more closely with Jojo…which brings us to—
IT’S (MOSTLY) A 2D FIGHTER
That’s probably the most important distinction to make here. All Star Battle’s fights may play out on full 3D environments, but most of the action is still locked to a 2D plane. There’s no denying that a large number of fighting game fans ears perked up when a new JoJo game was announced, and it seems that there’s an effort to try to evoke at least a little bit of that memory. But again, these are two games with very different audiences in mind.
The layout is simple for the most part. You have your traditional health bar, as well as super meter (dubbed the Heart Heat gauge). The game has full 360 degree movement, but nothing as loose as the Ninja Storm games—more akin to a mix of Street Fighter IV and Virtua Fighter or Tekken. Unlike the latter titles, however, where you sidestep by moving the joystick towards or away from you, All Star Battle features a single-button sidestep with X. A solo press will sidestep into the background, and down+X will move your character towards the foreground.
The square, triangle, and circle buttons comprise your general weak/medium/strong attacks, while R1 lets you dismiss/attack with your Stand (supernatural powers within the JJBA universe). Characters without Stands use the button for different things, such as summoning a horse or Ripple powers.
Stages include gimmicks, like a weather report causing rain or poison arrow frogs on a prison stage. There’s also a clash system in which both players have to mash the square button to see who comes out on top of an exchange. It’s a common “flashy” addition to anime games, but it’s represented well here.
The mechanics of All Star Battle are a step towards traditional fighters, while still retaining a lot of flashy anime features CC2 has come to be known for. You’re won’t be getting insanely technical, though it’s not wholly without merit either. It’s a fighter aimed at fans of the franchise, first and foremost, with a bit of depth and familiarity to keep others entertained.
More detailed gameplay information can be found in Siliconera’s extensive hands-on article.
IT’S GOT A BIG ROSTER
Thirty-four characters (with more coming as downloadable content) step into the All Star Battle ring, ranging from fan favorite Joe Joestar to Josuke Higashikate from Jojolion. Initially, no characters really seem like clones, and there appears to be a very conscious effort to make sure that the roster focuses on a variety of play styles (as opposed to having one that mashes square differently).
WARNING: SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD.
Part 1 - Phantom Blood
Jonathan Joestar (voiced by Kazuyuki Okitsu)
- The son of the wealthy George Joestar. A good and honest person who’s life seems to always mix with tragic circumstances. The main protagonist of Part 1.
- Battle Style: Ripple
Will A. Zeppeli (voiced by Yoku Shioya)
- Jonathan Joestar’s ally and mentor. Teaches him the “ripple” style of martial arts.
- Battle Style: Ripple
Dio Brando (voiced by Takehito Koyasu)
- The major antagonist of Part 1 and Part 3. He’s also considered the main antagonist of the series as a whole due to his far reaching influence.
- Battle Style: Vampirism
Part 2 - Battle Tendency
Joseph Joestar (voiced by Tomokazu Sugita)
- A hotheaded impetuous hero, also the main character of Part 2.
- Battle Style: Ripple
Caesar Anthonio Zeppeli (voiced by Takuya Satō)
- One of Joseph’s allies, with high strength and proficiency for hand-to-hand combat.
- Battle Style: Ripple
Esidisi (voiced by Keiji Fujiwara)
- One of the “Pillar Men” (ancient humans similar to vampires, trapped in giant pillars and resurrected by Nazis), and a major antagonist in Part 2.
- Battle Style: Heat Mode
Wamuu (voiced by Akio Ōtsuka)
- Another Pillar man.
- Battle Style: Wind Mode
Kars (voiced by Kazuhiko Inoue)
- Leader of the Pillar men. Intelligent, ruthless, and single-minded. Main atagonist of Part 2.
- Battle Style: Light Mode/Ultimate Being
Part 3 - Stardust Crusaders
Jotaro Kujo (voiced by Daisuke Ono)
- The most popular character of the series. First JoJo to be introduced with a Stand.
- Battle Style: Stand (Star Platinum)
Muhammad Avdol (voiced by Masashi Ebara)
- Friend of Joseph Jotaro, strong source of knowledge on stand users.
- Battle Style: Stand (Magician’s Red)
Noriaki Kakyoin (voiced by Kōji Yusa)
- A warm and loyal fighter who joins Jotaro after being freed from Dio’s control.
- Battle Style: Stand (Hierophant Green)
Jean Pierre Polnareff (voiced by Hiroaki Hirata)
- An ally who joins Jotaro’s group to find a man with two right hands who raped and murdered his sister.
- Battle Style: Stand (Silver Chariot)
Hol Horse (voiced by Hōchū Ōtsuka)
- Initially seen as an antagonist, becomes more of a comic relief in the series.
- Battle Style: Stand (Emperor)
DIO (voiced by Takehito Koyasu)
- Same Dio from Part 1, only more shadowy and evil.
- Battle Style: Stand (The World)
Part 4 - Diamond Is Unbreakable
Josuke Higashikata (voiced by Wataru Hatano)
- Starts the series as a high school freshman, with Jotaro looking for him. The illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar.
- Battle Style: Stand (Crazy Diamond)
Okuyasu Nijimura (voiced by Wataru Takagi)
- Introduced as an antagonist, he quickly becomes Josuke’s best friend.
- Battle Style: Stand (The Hand)
Koichi Hirose (voiced by Romi Park)
- First year high school student saved by Josuke and a major character of Part 4.
- Battle Style: Stand (Echoes)
Rohan Kishibe (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya)
- A successful cartoonist, and thinly-veiled representation of Araki himself.
- Battle Style: Stand (Heaven’s Door)
Akira Otoishi (voiced by Showtaro Morikubo)
- A major antagonist in Part 4. A rock star with the stand Red Hot Chili Pepper.
- Battle Style: Stand (Red Hot Chili Pepper)
Kosaku Kawajiri (Yoshikage Kira) (voiced by Rikiya Koyama)
- Character with the same body type and looks as Kira Yoshikage.
- Battle Style: Stand (Killer Queen: Bites the Dust with Stray Cat)
Part 5 - Vento Aureo
Giorno Giovanna (voiced by Daisuke Namikawa)
- The biological son of both Dio Brando and Jonathan Joestar.
- Battle Style: Stand (Gold Experience)
Bruno Buccellati (voiced by Noriaki Sugiyama)
- A moral and loyal man who leads the Buccellati gang.
- Battle Style: Stand (Sticky Fingers)
Narancia Ghirga (voiced by Yuuko Sanpei)
- A member of the Buccellati gang.
- Battle Style: Stand (Aerosmith)
Guido Mista (voiced by Kenji Akabane)
- Another member of Buccellati’s gang.
- Battle Style: Stand (Sex Pistols [voiced by Asami Imai])
Diavolo (voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa) / Doppio (voiced by Akira Ishida)
- The main antagonist of Part 5. A mafia boss.
- Battle Style: Stand (King Crimson)
Part 6 - Stone Ocean
Jolyne Cujoh (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro)
- The daughter of Jotaro Kujo.
- Battle Style: Stand (Stone Free)
Hermes Costello (voiced by Chizu Yonemoto)
- One of Jolyne Cujoh’s greatest allies.
- Battle Style: Stand (Kiss)
Enrico Pucci (voiced by Shō Hayami)
- A Catholic Priest who works at the Green Dolphin Street Prison.
- Battle Style: Stand (Whitesnake [voice Takuya Kirimoto]/C-Moon [voice Takuya Kirimoto]/Made In Heaven)
Part 7 - Steel Ball Run
Johnny Joestar (voiced by Yūki Kaji)
- The protagonist of Steel Ball Run. The series takes place in an alternate reality.
- Battle Style: Horse Riding (Slow Dancer)/Stand (Tusk)
Gyro Zeppeli (voiced by Shin-ichiro Miki)
- Most likely the counterpart of Caesar Zeppeli.
- Battle Style: Horse Riding (Valkyrie)/Rotation/Stand (Ball Breaker)
Funny Valentine (voiced by Yasuyuki Kase)
- Former soldier, discharged after being tortured.
- Battle Style: Stand (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap)
Part 8 - JoJolion
Josuke Higashikata (voiced by Mitsuaki Madono)
- Main character of the latest JoJo series.
- Battle Style: Stand (Soft & Wet)
- A Boston Terrier from Part 3 who possesses a unique Stand in The Fool.
- Battle Style: Stand (The Fool)
Shigekiyo “Shigechi” Yangu
- Friends with Josuke and Okuyasu in Part 4. Commonly referred to as “Fatty.”
- Battle Style: Stand (Harvest)
Yoshikage Kira (voiced by Rikiya Koyama)
- The major antagonist of Part 4.
- Battle Style: Stand (Killer Queen: Sheer Heart Attack)
Pannacotta Fugo (voiced by Hisafumi Oda)
- Another member of Bruno Bucellati’s gang in Part 5.
- Battle Style: Stand (Purple Haze)
The eponymous main character of another Hirohiko Araki manga series that predates his work on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. He was revealed at the end of the game’s latest trailer (included in the playlist below), but it’s still unknown if he will be included as an unlockable or downloadable character.
There’s also a small amount of character customization options, where players can change attributes from character colors to different taunts.
IT’S JAPAN ONLY
If All Star Battle seems like a kind of game worth pursuing, you’re going to have to go the import route. It’s very rare that JoJo games make it outside of Japan, and this will most likely stick to that trend. Due to the PlayStation 3′s architecture, however, the game is perfectly playable on consoles outside of its home country, as there’s no region-locking implemented.
While you wait, feel free to take a look at the various trailers that Namco Bandai has released since the game’s initial announcement in the playlist below.
A CALCULATED RISK
Look, don’t expect a King of Fighters level of technical detail in the mechanics of All Star Battle—it’s not that. It’s not trying to be that. The goal of All Star Battle is simple—offer a fun flashy tribute to one of the most prolific Japanese franchises of all time. That being said, any game with enough support can break past the initial barrier to find that endless rabbit hole of depth.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle was released today in Japan, exclusively on PlayStation 3.