NOTE: This article contains no future anime spoilers
In a vacuum, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle is a game with almost no merit whatsoever. The 2014 fighting game by CyberConnect2 (developer of the great Asura’s Wrath and not much else good) was released in Japan to fervent hype, receiving a 40/40 from Famitsu (Putting it alongside such greats as Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Nintendogs) and going on to become the best selling game of the year. However I feel this was a mistake on their part, as the game is a steaming pile of horseshit, no matter how much a fan of Hirohiko Araki’s 30 year spanning saga you are.
The game plays as a standard 3D fighter such as Tekken would, the key problem is the game uses the 3 button system commonly used in lightning fast games such as Marvel vs Capcom, while the game really moves along at a snail’s pace. Movement feels sluggish, and thanks to a leisurely framerate sitting around the 20fps mark means inputs don’t feel responsive, despite how simple they are intended to be. There is an “easy beat” auto-combo system, but auto-combos never feel a fraction as satisfying as the real deal, not to mention they just result in you wasting your meter on a boring level 1 super rather than the big level 2 super, all of which are lovingly crafted references to pivotal moments from the series, highlights (that I can talk about without spoiling anime viewers) include Kars becoming the ultimate lifeform for the rest of the match, DIO’s “Road Roller Da”, Waamu’s Divine Sandstorm, Kakyoin’s 20 Metre Emerald Splash and Jonathan’s Sunlight Yellow Overdrive. Jotaro and DIO also have a timestop move, which burns meter quick and isn’t quite as effective as you’d hope, but it’s cool to look at. A statement that’s a little true of every aspect of the game.
The game’s story mode is acceptable if a little underwhelming, giving you abridged versions of each Part of the manga from 1 to 7 fitted around the characters from that part included in the roster, which becomes a massive problem in later parts, as they are missing a number of crucial characters in 6 and 7 leading to repeat match-ups with the same people. Where it really falls down, though, is the Part 8 story mode. Like, ok. I get it. Part 8 had just started, you didn’t have any material. But you could have just given me Josuke 8 to play as rather than making me go through a boring fight with every single JoJo with the same fucking paragraph of boring filler text beforehand to get him. This story mode happens to be the only official means with which you can officially experience Parts 5-7 in English. I would not recommend this.
One aspect I haven’t touched on is the wide variety of unlockable costumes for all the characters, and that’s because I don’t have any of them. The game decides to hide all of its cosmetic unlocks behind its completely asinine Campaign mode. A pseudo-online experience in which you must fight boss characters repeatedly to unlock anything, as they get harder with each consecutive fight. It is not fun. On top of how mind-numbingly boring and cheap it is it also has a mobile game styled action timer mechanic, complete with microtransactions for maximum money in Bandai Namco’s pocket for minimum effort. In a similar situation, there are main characters from almost every part locked behind DLC. Keep the DLC for minor, fan favourite villains. Why is Iggy DLC while Hol Horse is in the base game? Why is Shigechi left out while Akira Otoishi and his Red Hot Chilli Peppers get in scott free?
In the end, the game delivers supremely on its style. It gets the look of everyone right and that’s about it. I don’t know how anyone without a massive love of every aspect of the series can get even more than a base level of enjoyment out of the game. If you don’t have any experience with JoJo, stay away from this game. It’s bad. JoJo isn’t though, get on that. If you love the anime, but don’t want to move on with the manga, then stay far away from this as it’s full of spoilers, and you won’t recognise anyone on one side of the character select screen. If you’re right in there, up to date on the latest JoJolion, chilling with your JoJonium collection stacked up on top of your copy of JoJoveller then sure. Go ahead. Get it. You probably already have, but if not then just go ahead. Do some supers. Try a taunt or two. Just don’t expect a good game behind the skin.