I grew up with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Or rather, I grew up playing Capcom’s fighting games based on the series. First in the arcades, and then on the Playstation and Dreamcast when the company ported the game over. While I’ve played the original game, I’ve never played Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R or the original game it’s based on.
In retrospect maybe it’s a good thing.
Capcom’s JoJo fighter was a damn impressive looking 2D fighter. Hell, it still holds up well today. While it certainly doesn’t have the roster of this game (it was mainly focused on the Stardust Crusaders arc), it did more than made up for it with its incredible animation and gameplay.
With that lofty standard, how does Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R stack up?
What is Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R?
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is an enhanced version of the original All-Star Battle, which was released for the Playstation 3.
A 1-on-1 brawler (though you have the ability to call in a partner character a limited number of times to assist) in the vein of Street Fighter, All-Star Battle R has a roster that spans the length of the series. Originally developed by CyberConnect, the enhanced version of the game sees the developers returning as well, with publishing duties by Bandai Namco.
It’s available right now on the PC, Nintendo Switch and both Playstation and Xbox consoles.
Our copy was gifted to us by the very awesome folks at Bandai Namco.
Right off the bat, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R packs a massive 51 character roster. That sounds ginormous (and it is) but it’s missing a ton of fighters. 50 characters are from the Jojo series, while 1 is from another series that the manga creator did. Sadly, if you’re a fan of the anime or manga, you’d know that 50 is nowhere near enough to encompass the range of characters from the series.
Yes, you have the memorable ones like DIO and Jotaro Kujo, but lesser known characters like Anubis or Oingo Boingo are missing. That’s just from Stardust Crusaders. Every single arc has missing characters. It’s also sad that some of the characters are using the Western names, because part of the fun of Jojo are the references to Rock and Metal bands (or songs) out there.
Cool Ice for example, is called Vanilla Ice in the Japanese anime and manga.
Yep, after the thief…I mean ‘rapper’.
It doesn’t really detract from the experience but is a bugbear the same. Oingo Boingo and Kenny G from the Stardust Crusaders arc aren’t in the game but I’ve no doubts they’d be called their Western names if they were.
Character choice aside, a great thing about the game is how varied gameplay is depending on which series character you pick.
Dio Brando (from the initial season) fights as a vampire, due to the abilities of the Stone Mask. DIO from Stardust Crusaders (who is essentially Dio Brando’s head on Jonathan Joestar’s body) fights using his Stand, The World.
Despite the same name (and essentially being the same character), the fighting styles are night and day apart. Dio Brando can heal and regenerate himself, DIO can’t. DIO can stop time, Dio Brando can’t. Even the two versions of Jotaro Kujo (one from Stardust Crusaders and another from Diamond is Unbreakable) are different enough to play. Yep, the Diamond is Unbreakable version does have Star Platinum/ The World powers, though he’s nowhere near as powered up as DIO.
It’s the same with many characters. Some fight with Hamon (think of it as Chi), some fight using Stands and a couple of fighters have their own unique fighting style.
The diversity in the cast is unrivalled and unheard of in fighting games. So many different gameplay systems makes balancing hell…which is also unfortunately the case here. There are characters which are undoubtedly inferior to the rest.
Old Man Joseph and his Hermit Purple Stand is one of them.
Compared to grandson Jotaro Kujo and his Stand, Joseph lacks the moves or the power to compete. It tracks with the anime and manga (Hermit Purple is one of the series’ weakest Stands) but it just doesn’t translate well to gameplay.
Despite that, the game still manages to be great fun, and is very faithful to the source material. The characters look, sound and even have their signature moves while the backgrounds are taken from pivotal moments in the anime.
There’s the room in DIO’s mansion where Vanilla Ice ambushed Polnareff (and killed Iggy), there’s the bridge where DIO and Jotaro Kujo had their final fight, the haunted mansion where Yoshikage Kira used to live in and more.
No, there’s sadly no stage at all that’s based in Singapore despite Jotaro fighting Rubber Soul here.
Yeah, I’m disappointed too.
Each of the stages have their own gimmicks too, such as the falling chandelier in Dio Brando’s original mansion. Finishing a fight with a special move (called a HHA or GHA) will also trigger special cutscenes (called a Dramatic Finish) too, if it’s in a specific area.
If nothing else, these neat touches elevate the game from just being another licensed fighting game to one that retains the style and substance of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. In that sense, unless you’re a fan of the series, you won’t be able to really appreciate the game much.
Unfortunately, the story mode from the original game’s gone. It’s replaced by a new one called All-Star Battle Mode, which lets you play pivotal battles from the series.
Some of the have you playing as the heroes, some as the villains and there are even a few that are ‘What If’ matches, which pits different characters from the series (who have never met canonically) against each other.
This is also where you unlock the locked content for the Gallery and alternate colors and outfits for the characters.
Pretty much every fight has locked content that can be unlocked when you fulfill certain secret conditions. Most of them have you replicating specific moments from the anime or manga but there are also conditions that just require you to finish off a match with a GHA or a HHA.
There’s no plot or story to the mode (or to any mode in the game), which is the biggest downside to the game for me personally. I just don’t feel satisfied with a fighting game if it doesn’t have an Arcade (or Story) Mode with an ending waiting for me at the end of the fights.
The relatively fast loading is fine but it’s still a bit of a letdown too, considering that it’s being loaded on SSD. Apart from that, there’s really nothing substantially new (other than the new characters and All-Star Battle mode of course) added to the game.
Sadly, the game’s also lacking on the music side.
The intro and outro anime themes are missing, probably due to licensing issues. That’s a damn shame because let’s face it…Sono Chi No Sadame from Phantom Blood is pure bliss. As is Stardust Crusaders’ End of the World.
None of the anime songs make it to the game and for that reason alone, the game falters a bit in the audio presentation side, despite doing so many things right on the visual front.
The Bottom Line.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is the definitive version of the fighter.
While it doesn’t really tweak the mechanics, the new cast additions are a great add-on. I’m a bit disappointed there’s still so many fighters MIA but future DLC should at least plug some of those holes up.
Unfortunately, All-Star Battle mode isn’t a worthy substitute for the lack of a Story mode and I’m actually disappointed there’s no narrative to the game at all. I’d have played the All-Star Battle mode (instead of the Endless Mode) more if there was. Sure you can unlock new outfits and gallery content but that’s sadly not enough.
Still, even without a story, the fighting is fun enough to warrant a purchase nonetheless. 51 fighters is nothing to scoff at and most of them are unique enough to stand out. They may not be on the same tier but they’re still different enough in playing style.
The game’s slavish attention to the anime and manga also does it a great service because it truly does feel like an extension of the anime and manga, so if you’re a fan, this is a definite plus.
Great fighter that plays great and is true to the source material.
- Tons of fighters with distinct styles.
- Fun fighting mechanics.
- True to the style of the anime and manga.
- All-Star Battle unlocks.
- No anime theme songs.
- Missing a ton of characters.
- No Story Mode or plot.