Watch out for FLUDD.
Do you like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure? Now, I don’t mean “Oh I think the ‘It was me, Dio!’ joke is funny”, I mean have you read every chapter of the manga twice, watched the anime, bought figures, and have an immense collection of Joseph/Wammu fanfiction collection? If you can answer yes, then I wholeheartedly recommend Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle to you. More casual fans and fighting game enthusiasts might have a bit of a harder time getting into the game, but there is still plenty of fun to be had.
ASB is a fighting game developed by Cyberconnect 2, famous for their Naruto games and Asura’s Wrath. Cyberconnect is very good at being very anime, which makes them an ideal fit. Every character looks like they stepped out of the manga and sound effects are accompanied by floating onomatopoeia. It’s quite stylistic, which is exactly what Jojo fans want from an adaptation. Much like how Super Smash Bros Brawl was a love letter to Nintendo fans, All Star Battle does the same for Jojo. There’s plenty of little shout-outs and lines from the manga in the game, with the largest concentration of them happening in the story mode.
Story mode is extremely basic in ASB. If you’re a fan, you’ve seen this all before, but if not, be prepared to get spoiled out the ass. Pretty much every major death in the series is ruined by running the mode, through snippets of text before and after fights. The battles match up with main events in the plot of the comic, but after part four the battles become skimpy. There are plenty of characters from part 6 in the game, but you only use Jolyene in story mode, and only fight Father Pucci. I’d argue similarly for part 5, but who likes part 5, honestly?
The meat and potatoes of the game lies in the combat. All Star Battle is maybe the easiest fighting game I have experienced; it’s just as easy to learn as it is to master. The developers set out to make a game that any Jojo fan could get into, and it shows. The face buttons are light, medium, heavy and X is a dodge button. R1 is your “style” control, which activates character specific actions, and L1 gives you immediate access to your “Grand Heat Attack”, which is your ultimate, in layman’s terms. R2 is a designated throw button, and L2 is a cancel button, which drains one meter from your “heat gage” and allows you to cancel out of your current combo. Combo canceling is as in-depth as this game gets, but you can very easily mash out a win by hitting Square, which gives you a basic combo a-la Persona 4 Arena.
The roster is jam packed with every character fans would need in a game like this. Characters play differently based on their type: Hamon users can build meter by holding a pose, Stand users have a separate moveset when their stands are out, and Mounted characters ride a friggin horse. There are a few notable omissions in the roster, but they were for the most part remedied with DLC. Namco’s handling of DLC is a bit odd, as in the first weeks data for pre-order bonus characters were made available. Now, every character’s data is unlocked, but only three are downloadable to the general public. It’s an odd way to stagger the characters. You’ll often unlock things for characters you cannot use.
Unlocking anything of value happens in campaign mode, which is the most baffling yet compelling mode in the game. Campaign is set up like a free to play game, with microtransactions and limited use abilities abound. However, “energy meter”, which allows you to search for, then damage boss characters, refills a bar every two minutes. There are also random encounters with lesser Jojo characters that will buff you or refill your energy the same way paying real money would. There’s no actual reason to spend money in this mode unless you’re abysmal beyond repair at the game or have no patience. Defeating bosses or “avatars”, CPU controlled versions of other players, nets you unlockables, which range from alt-costumes, new taunts, and spoken lines of dialogue taken from the manga. These can be changed in a “customize” menu, and are applied during any battles, online or otherwise.
Overall I recommend All Star Battle to Jojo fans, but really, who wouldn’t? Breezing through the campaign, getting new outfits and quotes to use online, is just plain fun. There’s also a good amount of people still playing the game actively around the world. If you love Jojo, you need to get this game. If you like fighting games, I’d say give it a look, but this is not the way to introduce yourself to the series. Go watch the anime, then come back, re-read this review, and see if you’re still interested.
(Hint: You’re probably hyped as hell for it)