Tuesday, 29 April 2014

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle

For gamers unfamiliar with the world of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, playing All Star Battle can be an utterly perplexing experience, if they attempt to understand the lore and history behind the characters they're controlling. For the uninitiated, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a Japanese manga that was originally first published in 1987 in Weekly Shōnen Jump. The series chronicles the life (and sometimes deaths) of the Joestars, a powerful family with English roots. So far spanning over 8 generations of the Joestar family tree (although the latest two tales are set in an alternate universe!), the first volume, titled Phantom Blood, was set in the 1880's in Great Britain. Since then readers of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure have followed numerous Joestars through all kinds of misadventures and mediums, including TV series, movies and, of course, videogames. But All Star Battle isn't the first JoJo's Bizarre Adventure videogame, but it is undoubtedly the best attempt as of yet.


Developed by CyberConnect2 who also brought us the classic .hack series and out now on PlayStation 3, comes JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, a game that is one giant dose of fan service. Keeping in line with what Capcom tried to bring to the table with their own JoJo's Bizarre Adventure game in 1998, CyberConnect2 have understandably made the title a fighting game. However, the beautiful thing about All Star Battle is that it plucks pretty much every character from all the 8 manga volumes, and chucks them all together into one massive all star battle, if you'll pardon the pun. Over the course of the game you'll get to fight as such classic characters as Jonathan Joestar, Lisa Lisa, Muhammad Avdol and Okuyasu Nijimura, right up to more recent characters like Josuke Higashikata. All of the action takes place in levels based upon locations in the manga too; so hard-core JoJo fans will find plenty to enjoy right off the bat. Though a lot of what makes this special will be lost on non-fans, the collection of over-the-top and badass characters here is still pretty impressive, even if you aren't familiar with the whole JoJo universe.


Though All Star Battle is largely a typical fighting game, there is plenty of aspects that help it stand out from the competition. Attacking comes in three forms; light, medium and hard, and utilising a blend of each attack is key to nailing combos. Each player also has the ability to sidestep and dodge attacks, which when done effectively instantly shifts the game from a 2D fighting game to that of a 360 degree one. However, the real standout element of All Star Battle is the Style button. Throughout the 32 characters available there are 7 different Styles, and they come in many varied and unique ways. For instance, Dio Brando has the ability to completely freeze his opponents thereby leaving them open to a hammering, while Johnny Joestar can summon his horse to aid him in a fight. Sitting atop a horse and mercilessly stomping away at a foe is my latest guilty pleasure! The beauty of All Star Battle is the fact that it's somewhere between a button mashing fighter and a fighter akin to Street Fighter's incredibly in-depth system. It bridges that gap quite nicely, so while you can shut your brain off when playing All Star Battle, the challenges it throws your way are fun, interesting and rewarding. 

All of the typical staples of fighting games are there too, including over-the-top finishing moves, finishing moves that utilise the environment and stage hazards; areas of each stage that the player will need to watch out for, be it falling chandeliers or toads falling from the sky. Needless to say, All Star Battle retains the wit, charm and completely batshit insane logic of the manga and anime series.

There are three game modes on offer, and come in the form of Story Mode, Campaign Mode and Versus Mode. During Story Mode you can only control characters of the Joestar lineage, but it’s during this mode in which you're able to recreate key moments and battles from the manga series. That said, once a certain battle is completed the player will then be able to fight the battle from the antagonists point of view. This not only keeps gameplay feeling varied, but also pulls the player into the world of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure quite effectively.


Overall JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle may only be aimed at the hard-core JoJo fans, but non-fans will find plenty of fun here. While not exactly stepping into the realm of the Street Fighter 4, the games over the top designs, move sets and hilarious attitude will satisfy just about any gamer who enjoys fighting games.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle kicks ass and gets a 5/5.

[★★★★★]

Denis Murphy


JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle at CeX



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