The Dreamcast still resonates as one of the greatest fighting game consoles of all time in my head. Thinking back to the library of games released on that system makes me wish mine was still hooked up, and I could still find all of my discs. Capcom has been leading the charge in re-releasing lots of games from that system, but not quite as many fighters. When JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was unveiled I was rather surprised. Few knew what it was back then, and I am sure even fewer know what it is today.
To give a little background, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is actually based off of a popular manga series that stretches out into several mediums. The game itself is based off of one of these particular chapters of the manga in which characters have inner powers that they can unleash, known as Stands. These Stands are what really separate this fighter from others in the Capcom stable. If you have played the recent Persona 4 Arena, you kind of get the idea. Stands are unique for each character and are what make JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure stand out from the crowd.
The game uses a standard four-button layout with light, medium and heavy attacks. The fourth button is your stand button which also has its own gauge at the top of the screen. Once activated your stand allows you to chain combos together as well as fight independently from your stand. It gets confusing and deep, not to mention unforgiving. This is not a fighter you can simply jump into and have fun. You need to learn and master the characters, further restricting its limited appeal.
Probably the biggest barriers to JoJo though are the lack of explanations. If you really want to enjoy what this game has to offer, you are going to have to dig in yourself. There are no helpful tutorials or challenge modes that teach you the basics of the gameplay; instead you get a barren “how to play” section and the challenge mode simply tasks you with beating opponents under certain conditions. If you want to get the mechanics down, it is off to YouTube for some training.
It is also worth mentioning that JoJo sits at a premium price of $20. While not unfair when warranted, this “HD” collection seems to be milking the rarity of the title. Unlike Third Strike before it, there really isn’t much in the way of an upgrade to this outing. The “HD” visual update is more like a filter that blurs the pixels and some fancy borders. To be fair I really preferred the original look. The only other change is the addition of a completely bare-bones online mode that features none of the care taken in other Capcom re-release fighting games. It all just feels cheap and quick, which makes the premium price that much harder to swallow.
I don’t want to sound too harsh, I had a lot of fun playing JoJo; there are some great moments in the game. For example, the net code is simply sublime. You almost never experience lag (reviewed on PS3, for the record) and the matches work. Fight request is available which gives you the ‘quarters’ mentality of being in an arcade, even if the rest of the online options are bare bones. I also really love the depth the fighter delivers with learning each character’s Stand and unique move sets. It is also worth noting that no other game really delivers such a diverse lineup of brawlers. From a yapping dog to a tentacle wielding street fighter, this game has style and gameplay to back it up.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD is exactly what it set out to be; a re-release of one of the most obscure fighting games of our time. The price is really ridiculous, and obviously set to take advantage of the rare group of players who really want the game. Anyone on the fence won’t bite at $20, especially with a lack of updated features found in other Capcom downloadable fighters. Still I can’t deny the inimitability and gratification of JoJo. This game was definitely ahead of its time in both design and execution. Fighting game fans need to at least give the demo a whirl. There is a lot to love here, even if it is overpriced.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.