Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review #125: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

 Muda Muda Muda Muda Muda Muda Muda Muda!!
 Long before we were graced with the great JoJo's Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle, western JoJo fans only had one game to play, Capcom's fighter JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Playing this game, it's easy to tell just how much it inspired All Star Battle mechanics, but does the new game by CyberConnect2 make this one obsolete?

 When you first boot up the game you'll be greeted by Super Story Mode, Arcade Mode, VS Human and Training Modes. Arcade Mode, Vs and Training are pretty much self-explanatory, so I'll delve deeper into the story mode. Incredibly, for a fighting game of its era, "Super Story" is where the main meat of the Single Player content lies. This mode consists of 39 stages, each one depicting each and every battle in the manga. Not only is it a very lengthy mode, there's also a nice amount of variety, y'see, not every stage is a 1 on 1 fight, sometimes you'll get a "press the right direction in time" sequences, there's also a shooter minigame, you might have to fight with a boss as it summons clay dolls or other various conditions. While it does a great job at summing up everything that happens in the story, if you haven't read the manga you might need some further context to piece everything together or understand the situation, the translation itself is rather good, but some lines are a bit off, regardless, when I first played this mode, with no prior knowledge of the series, I got the gist of it pretty well. This mode is also the where you unlock the 4 hidden characters and all the gallery extras, as you'll get graded after each fight. The good news is that after you beat the mode you can replay any stage, and it always keeps you highest rating on every thing that is graded, so maxing out the points per stage is not as hard as it sounds.
 Fighting is very fast-paced, quite like Darkstalkers(A game with which it shares many similarities). Core gameplay is fairly simple, three attack buttons and a "Stand" button. The Stand button, for most of the cast, summons a character's Stand, modifying their normal moveset and sometimes which special moves they have access to as well. If you dig deeper you'll find Rolling through attacks, Tandem attacks with your Stand, programmed attacks(Once again, with your stand) or even separating the Stand from the character. In the hands of competitive players, the game is incredibly fast paced, and unbalanced, but for casual play, it's fairly entertaining and thanks to the easy motions for special and super moves, easy to grasp. The game isn't Arcade Perfect, most Capcom Fighters on the PS1 aren't, but unlike the others, JoJo was made on the CPS III plaque(The very same Street Fighter 3 is on), so it's probably the port that suffered the most. From a gameplay standpoint, the scaling on the sprites is gone, which also makes the distance that you can put between yourself and the opponent smaller. As good as the game looks in motion, a lot of frames got lost in the transition as well, and Stands now only display two colors at most(While in the Arcade they were as colorful as the characters themselves).

 While the game is, technically, a port of the first game, it features all the characters from the second, but to be honest, most of them are simple sprite clones, even if they play differently. You get two Polnareffs(Base and Anubis), three Kakyoins(Kakyoin, New Kakyoin(Wears glasses, and different properties on some of their moves) and... Rubber Soul as Kakyoin), two Dios(Base and Shadow Dio) and two Hol Horses(J.Geil combo and Voing combo). There's plenty of image-based unlockables, and a lot of them seem fairly interesting, but you can't zoom on them, making a couple of the most interesting ones(The design book!) useless. Well, at least each character has its own unique prologue and ending for their Arcade modes!
 While it looks half as good as its Arcade, Dreamcast and HD counterparts, it's still a beautiful game. Sprites are gorgeous, faithfully capturing Araki's knack for poses. The stages are very colorful, with a wide variety of places from the manga. As for the music, while I'm not sure if the tracks featured are suited for a JoJo game, they are really, really good! Voice acting bears a special mentioning, Capcom nailed the voices for each character, something the older OVAs failed to do(But I'm not getting into that).

 As good as the game is by itself, as much fun as I had with it... there's no denying that the PS1 version is the worst port of the game. Sure, Story Mode is really, really nice, but this being a fighting game, you will spend most of your time fighting in Vs mode, and the other versions are just gorgeous, some even featuring other extras to make up for the lack of Story Mode(Like Kid Mode!). As for how it stands against All Star Battle... I think I'd go with ASB. I like the mechanics of this game a little bit more, but if I wanted to play a JoJo game, I'd go straight to ASB, double the amount of characters, a ton of attention to detail, poses are much more faithful, and it's even easier to pick up and play. Despite everything I've said, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure on the PS1 is a great choice... if you don't have access to any of the other ports.
 8.0 out of 10.

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