Review: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD (Sony PlayStation 3)
by Aaron Sirois on August 29, 2012

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Genre: Fighting
Release Date: 08/21/2012

In 1999, the Dreamcast and PSX received a port of an arcade title based off the popular Japanese manga titled JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. It was released in the States, despite the manga having not crossed over yet. However, the game found a cult following due to a unique mechanic and a full cast of zany characters.

Recently, developer CyberConnect2 announced they were working on a brand new JoJo game for Namco-Bandai as part of an effort to return the series to mainstream relevance. Capcom, smelling opportunity, decided to release the original fighting game as a downloadable HD remake.

So here we are. A 1999 game brought back into the spotlight for all to enjoy. I myself did not play the original, had never heard of the associated license, and didn’t even know this game existed until about a day before it came out.

And yet, I found myself enjoying it quite a lot.

Story/Modes

First off, I should mention that this is an update of the Dreamcast version, not the PSX version. From what I’ve gathered, the PSX version offered a more complex story mode, but suffered from various performance issues. So, if you played the PSX version, be prepared for things to be a little different than you remembered.

For Story Mode, you’re free to choose any of the game’s twenty-two characters. Each character has their own story, and there are usually some differences in the path that character takes. For example, playing as Jotaro will land you a special level where you dodge powerful water attacks from distant enemy. Playing as Alessy, one of the villains, this battle doesn’t happen. For some characters, you may even get a different final fight, though it’s always some form of Dio.

The plot itself is interesting. The Joestar family has a long history with the vampire called Dio. When he returns, the family must put a stop to him or else suffer the death of one of their own. In addition, the power of “Stands”. Stands are supernatural manifestations of life energy that can be used to fight. The beginning of the story deals with learning of these Stands, as well as introducing the characters.

As an interpretation of the manga, the game leaves much to be desired. Things move quickly. Characters are introduced off-screen, die off-screen, and offer little in the way of characterization. If you play through as all of the main cast, you get a much better picture of the story, as well as what each character is about.

For additional single players modes, the game offers little, but enough. There’s Challenge, which is a typical survival mode. You pick a character and battle until you lose. At the end of each victory, you can choose a life boost or a super meter boost. It adds some strategy to the mode, and was quite nice. There’s also a fully functional training mode. It won’t teach you how to use a character properly, but you can practice against specific enemies, learn moves/combos, and get a basic understanding of each character’s strengths and weaknesses. I was happy with it.

For multiplayer, the standard versus mode is included. Newly added, however, is a online mode. It follows the typical Capcom online model. You can participate in ranked matches, player matches, or join a lobby. You can also save, replay, and upload fights. There’s even a leaderboard for the ranked matches. Online play can be a little choppy compared to offline play, but I didn’t have any serious issues in any of my matches. Network play alone makes this an interesting package for old fans and new alike.

It’s also worth mentioning that he menu system has seen an overhaul. You have more options across the board, and everything looks modernized. You have the option to affect difficulty, number of rounds, time limits, and even whether an online opponent can challenge you mid-game. It’s sleek. I much prefer this to the old school way of doing things.

Graphics

This game calls itself an HD remake, but that’s a bit of a stretch. In truth, things have been cleaned up is all. Still, the game looks noticeably better than its forebear. However, the options allow you to return to the original look if you prefer, allowing purists to play the game as they remembered it.

The art style is pretty fantastic. It looks like a manga has been colored and brought to life. Heavy use of black lines allow the game to look like drawings in motion. Strong animations help sell the characters, and I was often distracted by how nicely everything looked. It might be a little behind the times, but there is still plenty of charm in this old title.

Overall, this is a darn good looking fighting game, even after all these years. If you were expecting more of a visual overhaul, you might be disappointed. I think it still works.

Audio

The voices are in Japanese, but that’s probably for the best. I always find that English dubs for fighting games tend to be less than average. The voices sound good, but a little muted for my tastes. Things can get a tad annoying depending on what’s going on screen. Using the same moves constantly makes the associated sound effect almost ear splitting. That’s true of most fighting games, but that doesn’t help matters.

Musically, the game works, but doesn’t excel. The tunes have a nice beat to them, but I never found myself noticing them during battle. They’re pure background fluff. That’s not a bad thing, but it certainly doesn’t help the game stand out in any way.

The overall aural experience is quite serviceable. If you play with the sound on, you won’t end up regretting it. However, you can play just fine without it and still get a good experience.

Gameplay

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure uses a simple control scheme consisting of four buttons. There’s light, medium, and heavy attacks, as well as a special button. The special button activates/deactivates the Stand for those that have one. For those that don’t, it serves as a fourth attack button. Combos and special moves are fairly easy to pull off. Most specials require a simple roll of the stick and a press of a button. Using different attack buttons produces small variations of the same attack.

Like a lot of fighting games, JoJo uses a super meter on the bottom of the screen. This fills up when you take damage and/or when you land damage. When the meter fills up, you get a charge. A charge can be used to perform one of several super moves. These moves are flashy and do a ton of damage. Managing the meter is thus quite important.

Another mechanic is the “blazing fists”. When certain characters perform certain moves against each other at the same time, the game turns into a button mashing fest. Both characters will start throwing wild punches, with the winner getting to deal damage. This is extremely rare. In the dozens of battles I played, it only happened once. There’s even a silver trophy for it.

The Stand system is the game’s most interesting feature. Characters with a Stand can summon it with the press of a button. With a Stand activated, your move set changes. Often, it grants greater range in and of attacks. Some characters can have their Stands move independently of them, others switch places with their Stand, while even others have Stands that are powerful weapons. Each character is thus wildly different from the others. You simply cannot play Alessy the same way you play Avdol. It would be suicide.

It’s not all gravy with Stands. When your Stand is out, it can take damage. If it takes too much, you’ll lose the Stand until the meter recharges. At the wrong time, this can be absolutely devastating. You can recall the Stand in order to recharge the meter at will however.

In the end, it’s the great roster diversity that sets this game apart. It’s a blast to try out new characters and strategies. You can almost learn the game anew with each character you play. A competent battle system with a great unique mechanic plus roster diversity equals a fighting game that will please many different types of players.

Replayability

With twenty-two characters to play as, the game has a decent run time if all you like to do is clear the story mode with everyone. You can also try out Challenge or simply up the difficulty to extend your game.

The online multiplayer is sure to add a ton of value to the title. If you can’t someone to play the game with you at home, taking the fight over the internet is a great way to hone your skills and learn new strategies.

Where JoJo stumbles is an overall lack of modes. Modern fighting games offers some extras to keep players engaged longer. For example, Tekken 6 has its unique scenario campaign, Mortal Kombat 9 has the challenge tower, etc. JoJo simply can’t compete at that level, though it still offers a decent amount of content.

Balance

Initially, the game is very unfriendly. The AI knows how to use the Stand mechanic and you don’t. They will exploit this to no end and beat you down mercilessly. Even the easiest difficulty setting can be troubling.

Eventually, you pick up on the nuances of the game. After that, the game holds little challenge. I boosted the difficulty to the top and managed to make a good showing of myself. There was such marked improvement that I was quite shocked. While there are eight levels of difficulty, there wasn’t much difference between individual settings it seems.

For veteran players, the game will likely come off as too easy. For beginners, it will come off as impossibly difficult. However, the roster is deep and the challenge is there. I cannot call the game unbalanced.

Originality

I’ve long ago established that ports don’t get points for originality. This is a more than decade old game. While the Stand mechanic is still fairly unique, it’s not like it’s anything new.

The game does earn a few points for the thorough modernization of the game. From top to bottom, they made the right changes. The graphics are smoother, the menus updated, and online play has been added. Its seems like a no-brainer, but there are many ports that don’t do even that much.

Addictiveness

I can’t say this has become my new fighting game addiction, but it certainly has taken a position of prominence on my HDD. Before this, my go to fighting game was a Street Fighter Alpha port I picked up for cheap to play on my PSP. Now if I take my system on the road and get the urge to crack some heads, I’ll turn to JoJo.

The quirky characters and fun combat make this an easy game to keep playing. Online play is sure to eat up a lot of time for players who want to be competitive. With one or two more killer modes, this game would have really shined.

Appeal Factor

There is some bad news. In order to grab this title, you’ll need to put down twenty bucks. The usual price for an HD port is about fifteen. Those cheaper games usually add the same features that JoJo has, so it’s not like they offer less for less. I’ve seen a number of people who are turned off by the price, which is a shame.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is also relatively obscure compared to powerhouse franchises like Naruto and DBZ. That could hurt the appeal a bit. The biggest thing the game has going for it is that it was developed by Capcom. As such, there are a number of people who will likely pick this up on brand name alone.

If you can deal with the inflated price, this game is a perfect buy for old fans and someone looking for a new fighting game to sink their teeth into. At the very least, it’s cheaper than going and finding a hard copy for an old system.

Miscellaneous

I want to compare this favorably with my first Naruto game. I went blind into it and left with a positive outlook. I don’t know if I’m going to go out of my way to start reading the manga, but I’m definitely interested in any future games for the franchise.

The bottom line is that this is one older game that still holds up, and is still worth a look.

The Scores
Story/Modes: Enjoyable
Graphics: Enjoyable
Audio: Decent
Gameplay: Great
Replayability: Good
Balance: Enjoyable
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Good
Final Score: Above Average Game!

Short Attention Span Summary

It’s always great when a older, more obscure game get re-released. It’s even better when that older game still holds up. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD is a fun fighter with a unique mechanic and plenty of charm. The price might be a bit too high for some, but those that do spend the money will see that it’s worth it. Whenever the new JoJo game comes out, it’s going to have some pretty big shoes to fill.



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