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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle
 

 
STORY:  Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is based on Hirohiko Araki's long-running manga series, featuring over 40 characters taken from all 8 story arcs of the series. The game was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series.
 

14 fighters to start... 18 unlockable in-game... plus 8 DLC!

 
REVIEW"It's not a fighting game, it's a JoJo game," said CyberConnect2 CEO, Hiroshi Maruyama, when the game was first announced. I didn't know what to make of that statement when I first heard it, but at the time, I wasn't positive if I'd be continuing coverage of the game on TFG. As it would turn out, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is mostly a fighting game. However, it might not be the type of game that some fighting game players of today might be expecting.

Based on Hirohiko Araki's iconic manga series, JJBA: ASB is obviously a huge fan service for anyone who has followed the series over the years. Unlike some of the more "mainstream" manga & anime out there, the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series actually hasn't seen many video game adaptations. A true cult classic, Capcom's JoJo's Bizarre Adventure 2D fighter from back in 1998 was based solely on "Part 3" of the series (Stardust Crusaders), and kick-started interest in the Jojo series to a new fanbase. As the spiritual successor, All Star Battle offers a much more comprehensive roster (over 40 characters), spanning across the 8 story arcs of the series (1987-2011). 

The stylized cel-shaded graphics engine provides an unparalleled level of nostalgia for fans, and
impressively manages to capture the manga's iconic art style. What makes All-Star Battle interesting is that it rips many iconic scenes straight from the manga, cleverly bringing them to life during gameplay (in fact, here are some fan-made videos that demonstrate this). While only hardcore fans will appreciate some of the references at first glance, it would seem that All Star Battle aims to bring new fans into the insanely imaginative universe, as well.
 

There is seriously no shortage of stylish JoJo poses... this game has 'em all!

 
As a "fan service" sort of game, the gameplay engine likely wasn't the top priority of the dev-team... unlike most tried-and-true fighting games of today. First of all, if you're looking for a fighting game catered to hardcore Super Street Fighter 4 players who study frames and memorize 100's of different match-ups... you should probably just stick with SSF4. Clearly, the main goal of JJBA was not to become the next headliner at EVO; I'm pretty sure the creators couldn't care less, actually. However, it's also clear that the dev-team did put some significant thought and effort into the fighting mechanics. In fact, most of the infinites and character balance issues found early on were swiftly patched. While some overlying flaws still remain, the gameplay manages to offer a unique and very aesthetically pleasing experience.

For the most part, All Star Battle plays like any familiar 2D fighting game. However, there's a 3D sidestep mechanic, allowing fighters to move a full 360 degrees around their opponent. Characters can quickly sidestep at any time - great for dodging projectiles and linear attacks. Furthermore, "Stylish Moves" are special dodges which stylishly slow down the action when they occur (and they look pretty awesome, indeed). Stylish Moves are done by tapping "back" as soon as an attack is blocked. They also deplete the Guard Gauge, which can result in a guard break when a player is being too defensive. 

Characters have a standard amount of specials, along with flashy super moves (called Heart Heat Attacks), and mind-blowing "level 2" super moves (Great Heat Attacks). Interestingly, there are several different character "types" in All Star Battle.
Each fighter makes use of the universal "Style" button differently. Characters like Jonathan & Joseph Joestar can strike a pose and "charge up" to fill their super gauge. Other fighters (most) have a "stand" whom they can call out to fight alongside them and can perform a variety of unique moves. Lastly, Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli fight on horseback (or on foot). Depending on which "mode" the character is in, they will have different priority & special moves at their disposal. In addition, some characters, like Dio (with his classic 'Za Warudo!' technique), can completely "freeze" their opponent for a brief period of time, leaving them totally defenseless while they get knocked around. The diversity between the different types of fighters is pretty intriguing and fun to discover. While there are tons of awesome-looking, exclusive attacks per character, I think most characters could use a few more options in terms of their play styles, overall. Similar to some old school 2D fighters, characters in JJBA: ASB have a limited amount of priority / basic moves, making their options pretty limited.

The combo system is definitely "simplified" and a bit stiff when compared to most fighters these days. The game
features a basic chain combo system (Weak, Medium, Strong). Each character also has at least one basic command attack which can also be strung into combos. Similar to Persona 4 Arena's auto-combo system, All Star Battle's "Easy Beat" system allows beginner players to sequentially tap one button and pull off a full combo, complete with a super move! It's certainly easy for a new player to jump in and start having fun. For more advanced players, there is also canceling system in place, enabling longer, more impressive-looking combos... Indeed, there are some badass combos in this game (some that even include taunts, mind you)! I think an air combo system would've greatly improved the fun factor of All-Star Battle, but the combo system in place is easy to comprehend at least. While JJBA: ASB isn't nearly as deep or balanced as other fighters, it's certainly fun to watch (possibly more fun to watch than some mainstream 2D fighters right now, if you ask me).

 

You'd be hard-pressed to find more epic super moves!

 
To wrap up the gameplay details... All Star Battle also features "Stage Hazards" that go into effect when characters approach a specific area of the background. These hazards can range from speeding cars, to falling chandeliers, to blue toads raining from the sky. In any case, hilarity will ensue! In addition, "Situation Finishes" will occur on most stages when a character wins with a super move and, like everything else, are based on actual events from the manga. (When specific characters are used on their story-oriented stage, Situation Finishes will faithfully recreate classic events from the manga!) Last but not least, "Rush Mode" is a clash system, requiring both players to mash buttons - the winner being the player who mashes the fastest. Rush doesn't occur very often, but looks awesome when it does!

Thanks to the epic camera angles and unique style of animation, the overall "ouch factor" of the game is quite satisfying. The trademark "machine gun punch" barrages performed by many of the series characters never looked better, and the intensity of the super moves rivals if not succeeds some of Street Fighter IV's. Normally I would scoff at such long, drawn-out super moves (especially since they're performed and connected so easily by the player), but JJBA's supers are so damn intense, dramatic, and many are surprisingly entertaining to watch over and over again.


One thing I really like about JJBA's animation is that nearly ALL animation is
exclusive to each character! I'm talking about walking animations, crouch animations, jumping animations (in all 3 directions), falling animations, and of course ALL their attacks. Speaking of their attacks, there are so many ridiculously unique attacks in All Star Battle, that words can't even describe them. Each character even has two unique throws, which zoom in the camera (almost Tekken style) and look excellent. Amazingly fleshed-out character-specific details like these go a long way in my book, and really allow each of the characters to stand out from one another. A ton of these subtle animations are also throwbacks to specific panels from the manga. Again, the fan service is simply off the charts! The weirdly charismatic characters of the JoJo series brilliantly shine through the animation quality of All Star Battle.

If you're new to the series, and perhaps you thought King of Fighters had a lot of "flamboyant" male designs, you haven't seen anything yet. While these types of character designs aren't for everybody, they're nonetheless original in nearly every way imaginable, and naturally have translated very well as fighting game characters. Jojo characters are simply a different breed, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a single moment when they're not overflowing with personality during gameplay.
 

A catchy art direction that captures the integrity from the manga.

 
Other noteworthy visual aspects about the game: The epic 3/4th's angle when characters become really far apart, and the slow-mo effect during K.O., which naturally highlights various details of the animation (just like SF4). There's also a ton of "manga style" eye candy that pops up all over the screen during gameplay, successfully blurring the line between comic and fighting game. The only major flaw is that the game's frame rate runs at around 30 frames per second (whereas most fighting games are 60 FPS). What's worse, is when there's a lot on the screen at once (such as two fighters on horseback), the frame rate drops significantly and there's even some slowdown. If your TV has a "motion enhance" option, it might actually help the frame rate in some minor instances, but it's really a shame ASB couldn't perform better.

Besides the basic modes like Versus & Online Versus, All-Star Battle features two main single player modes: Campaign and Story. Campaign is an online-based mode, set up similar to many "free-to-play" mobile games. To play this mode, players use credits from what looks like a battery gauge. This gauge refills by one bar every 5 minutes, but players can purchase new credits (with real money) if they don't want to wait for it to refill. Players can also purchase various power-up cards to unlock stuff more quickly, but thankfully, these shameless micro-transactions aren't required to enjoy the game. (On the subject of micro-transactions, I'm sure some players also won't be happy about having to buy the additional DLC characters... but they're only $2-$3 each.) Finally, All-Star Battle features a Customize mode allowing players to customize character taunt and victory sequences.

Here's the scoop on Campaign: The mode has 4 options from top to bottom - Campaign, Medal List, Ranking & Support Items. "Medal List" is a list of every medal you've collected for each character. Medals represent all the customization items you have access to; poses, colors, dialogue lines, etc. In "Ranking," players can view other players and their rank online (along with their own). Finally, "Support Items" links to the PSN store and players can buy various power-ups with real money. In Campaign, players either fight against "boss" characters or ghost characters (called "visions") based on other players. For bosses, you slowly drain their HP as you win battles against them. Players can also wager additional credits to take more life away from the bosses. Upon defeating them, you're awarded with alternate color palettes, new costumes, victory poses and/or new taunts. There are also some mini-games that pop up in Campaign, such as "pick a card" and a "rock, paper, scissors" game.

Lastly, Story Mode is a bit of a let down, especially when considering the game visually resembles a comic book. Story is broken up into 8 parts (just like the manga), each part starring the main protagonist of that series. Each chapter features a ton of text & spoken voiceovers, and the gameplay events involve respective heroes & villains battling it out (sometimes, repeatedly). Even though these consecutive fights are canon in the storyline, it can get pretty monotonous for the player, and it doesn't help that all of the fights take place on the same stage. Aside from a few "alternate gameplay situations" that I won't spoil, Story Mode is mostly a bore. On the bright side, Story does provide an unfolding written "summary" of each major part of the manga, which definitely helps to understand the story if you don't feel like reading all 8 mangas (However, beware of spoiler alerts!). On the bright side, your time spent in Story will earn you points used to unlock extras in the Gallery (complete with a cool 3D Model Viewer, Art Gallery, Sound Test & JoJo Glossary)... and it gives away some easy trophies! For the hardcore JJBA fan, there is a shipload of memorable dialogue to listen to, but the awesome voice actors alone don't save the mode from feeling uninspired.

Page Updated: May 24th, 2016
Developer(s): CyberConnect2
Publisher(s): Namco Bandai
Designer(s): Hiroshi Maruyama
Platform(s): Playstation 3
Release Date(s): Aug. 29th, 2013      ()
Apr. 25th, 2014
       ()
Apr. 29th, 2014
       ()
Characters Jotaro Kujo, Dio Brando, Jonathan Joestar, Dio (Phantom Blood), Young Joseph, Joseph Joestar, Kakyoin, Avdol, Polnareff, Hol Horse, Wham, Josuke Higashikata, Okuyasu Nijimura, Giorno Giovanna, Guido Mista, Jolyne Kujo, Hermes Costello, Johnny Joestar, Gyro Zeppeli, Will Zeppeli, Yoshikage Kira, Caesar, Esidisi, Koichi Hirose, Akira Otoishi, Kars, Rohan Kishibe, Diavolo, Bruno Buccellati, Narancia, Enrico Pucci, Kosaku-Kira, Funny Valentine, Jojolion, Iggy, Shigekiyo Yangu, Iced, Fugo, Lisa Lisa, Anasui, Baoh

Featured Video:

Related Games: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Persona 4 Arena, Persona 4: Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold, Fate/Unlimited Codes, Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, Hokuto No Ken, Sengoku Basara X, Tatsunoko VS Capcom, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition, Ultra Street Fighter 4, Tekken Revolution, Yatagarasu, Xuan Dou Zhi Wang
  

Gameplay Engine  7.0 / 10
Story / Theme  6.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.0 / 10
Animation  9.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  8.0 / 10
Innovation  7.5 / 10
Art Direction  10 / 10
Customization  8.0 / 10
Options / Extras  7.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  9.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  6.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.0 / 10
Characters  8.5 / 10

BOTTOM LINE

 8.0 / 10

 Review based on Japanese version

 

Final Words:

After nearly 14 years of absence, it's a real treat to see Jojo's Bizarre Adventure return to the fighting genre (and look so damn good)! Visually, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle quickly distinguishes itself from other fighters. The cool cel-shaded graphics engine, shamelessly charismatic animations, "in-your-face" camera angles during super moves, and manga-inspired touches give the game a very unique personality.

To put it bluntly, you've never seen anything like JJBA: All-Star Battle. It's more than a worthy successor to the first JoJo fighting game and turned out to be a really unique fighting game on its own. Some hardcore fighting game players may scoff at the simpler mechanics and the somewhat "slow" gameplay speed, but there's a certain "old school" mixed with "new school" charm that I like about the gameplay.

JJBA: All Star Battle is definitely a "casual" fighting game in most areas... but it can also be pretty fun once you learn the ropes. Considering this game was made for fans of the series (not ultra nitpicky FGC people), gameplay really isn't "everything" in a game like this. Also worth mentioning is that many character movesets are actually deeper than they may seem at first (so give everyone a try)! There's a lot to enjoy from a fighting game fan's perspective, especially if you're one to appreciate "art style" and pleasing aesthetics.

The 40+ unique characters give players a ton to experiment with, and the colorful, otherworldly backgrounds really set the vibe of the universe. The Japanese version isn't difficult to get into for English-speaking folks who import, but things can get a bit confusing in the Campaign & Story Mode. Thankfully, All Star Battle made its way to the West in 2014, complete with subtitles! English subtitles alone do enhance the overall enjoyment of the game, especially since there's a plethora of Japanese voiceovers throughout (even in the game's various menus, which feature tons of character cameos).

CyberConnect2 clearly put a ton of heart into this game... something that shouldn't be overlooked. The fact that All Star Battle spans across the entire series, from the first manga in 1987, all the way to part 8 in 2011, is an insane accomplishment in itself. Even if you're not very familiar with the JoJo series, All Star Battle is the perfect excuse to venture into this eccentric universe. 
~TFG Webmaster
 

   
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Click Here for all character art!

 

  
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