JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD Lacks Frills, But Has Heart

By Kris . August 26, 2012 . 3:00pm

In other fighting game playtests, I’ve talked about the ways in which modern fighting games (or rereleases) have all sorts of modes to bring you up to speed with how the game is working mechanically. In JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD, there is none of that. No tutorial mode to walk you through how to properly evade or use advancing guards, no “getting to know your stand” feature, and no individual character challenges to teach you combos.


You do get a tutorial in the form of a digital manual of sorts, and the game mercifully provides in-game command lists for every character, but outside of that, the learning experience is all on the player. This port feels like it came right out of the Dreamcast era, with only a few concessions to modernity.


So, what are those concessions? Well, you get an “HD” mode, which is primarily a single sprite filter (which actually looks quite nice in comparison to other, similar filters), the option to turn blood from the US version’s white to the Japanese version’s red, and the requisite online play. That’s about it.


While the port is sparse to say the least, the game itself is a blast. Each character has a “Stand,” (think a ghostly familiar of sorts) which they can activate with a press of the Stand button. While the Stand might make an appearance in a character’s normal or special attacks, a stand changes the way they play completely. Leading man Jotaro Kujo, for instance, has his Light, Medium, and Heavy normals combo into each other more easily when his Stand is active, and he will accompany his Stand as it moves forward with a flurry of punches. When his Stand is not active, he can effectively attack his enemies from both sides by sending his Stand forward with an attack before dodging behind an opponent with L+M+H simultaneously.


On top of the Stand system, JoJo is fast. You’re constantly dodging, dashing, and hopping to put pressure on your opponents. It’s really fun to keep pressure on your opponents and rush them down, at least for me. While my beginner’s ineptitude often got me into trouble, I found that keeping pressure on opponents led to the most exciting fights. When both players are hopping all over the place with their stands charging at each other, JoJo becomes a sight to behold.


Because of the lack of tutorials and the like, I found that the best way to get a hang of a character was a trial by fire. I’d hop into training mode and give a character’s movelist a once-over before going online. Despite my Super Street Fighter IV-born fears of Capcom’s netcode while playing against people from other countries, to a beginner like me, my matches against Japanese players (who seem to make up the majority of the online audience, at the moment) all felt very smooth and responsive. Even considering my generally weak internet, I’ve had absolutely no trouble playing with anyone in Japan or the US.


As this is my first excursion into the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure universe, I found myself intrigued by everything from the character designs (all the manliness of Fist of the North Star combined with the fabulousness of a glam rock concert), the musically-inspired character names, and the absolutely insane story mode. You see, in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, in the place of “arcade mode” in practically every other fighter is “story mode,” which pits you against an assortment of enemies, but gives you little bits of story with some minimally-animated sprites between each battle.


While this doesn’t sound like a big deal, I was impressed by how much Capcom played with the format. While the fights were generally two rounds per opponent, not every fight played out the same. For instance, while I was playing as Jotaro, I had a one-round fight against what appeared to be the grim reaper, and another round that was a mini-game in which I had to destroy or avoid obstacles to run towards a one-hit enemy before time (or my health) ran out. When playing through as the main antagonist, Dio Brando, I had a much shorter story to play through that started from the end of Jotaro’s story and one of the matches I fought switched opponents between rounds.


I can’t honestly say I completely understood the game’s story, but I certainly enjoyed the dramatic weight it gave to French bulldogs fighting alongside a Sean Connery lookalike and the world’s most muscular high-school student against vampires.


While JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD doesn’t really add a whole lot of the modern conveniences and little bonuses I’ve come to expect from a fighting game, I can’t help but love it. It’s absolutely ludicrous, beautiful, and a lot of fun.


Food for Thought:

1. The command list is displayed in a really weird way. For instance, if you have to press forward, heavy attack, medium attack, light attack, forward to do an attack, the command list will look something like this: ->+H+M+L+->. While you get used to this after a second glance, it’s a bit jarring at first, since it can look like you’re supposed to input everything simultaneously.


2. Online replays allow you to display both players’ inputs and hitboxes. While I would have loved an option to turn on hitboxes in training mode, it’s kind of nice to see how exactly your opponent hit you.


3. I love the game’s animation and attention to detail. I’m particularly fond of the way that a cut-in of your opponent’s injured face appears onscreen if you defeat them with a super (and will be cut in half if you finish them with a blade-wielding character’s screen-dividing super).

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  • Andrew Austin

    Even as a JoJo fan, the price is just way too high for me.

    The 3rd Strike port had way more content and was like 5 bucks cheaper.

    • Spirit Macardi

      But that game doesn’t have steamroller-chucking vampires.

      • Andrew Austin

         But its a more competently made, appropriately priced port. Its also an objectively better game too.

        I really wouldn’t be surprised if Capcom hiked this port up just because of comments like yours.  all we need now is a WRYYYYY joke and rero rero rero joke and we’ll reach the quota.

        • Spirit Macardi

          I was just joking. No need to get all insulting.

          It’s your money, so do what you want with it.

          • Andrew Austin

            My bad, this port just has me in a bad mood.

            Sorry about that.

        • Ty Austin

          While I agree in most parts, Capcom really should have done a better job on 3SO’s online play.

    • I think this game done better job for upscaling. SF3 graphic was horrible.

    • a

       Yeah, it dont even have the super story mode, the mini games, etc. of the psx version. Welp, time replay the psx version!!!!!!!

      • Ty Austin

        PSX version is inferior to the DC one.  When it comes down to it, as a gamer who plays FGs more than any other genre, I much prefer having the proper gameplay over some mini games I’m going to play one time.

        • neo_firenze

           Yep.  As close to arcade perfect as possible is way more of a priority to me than console-specific extra modes. 

          Not that I’d complain if there are MORE features added, but not having them doesn’t really upset me either because I’m far more concerned with the meat of the gameplay. 

  • $30632660

    I remember this game was mentioned in an old playstation magazine years ago, in a time where Anime games that made it overseas was rare.

  • Corey Underwood

    i thought the 20 dollars was a little high too, but when i purchased it and saw everything the original game had BUT unlocked….i actually felt it was justified. 

  • Solomon_Kano

    This will be my first dip into the JoJo series as well, so I’m glad it’s good. Looking forward to the anime starting up.

  • Laharl

    Taking out the proper Story Mode was a huge misstep. What a shame.

    • Ty Austin

      I understand why they did it though, the DC version is the proper port but doesn’t have the extra features in story mode. I was hoping maybe they would lift it out of the PSX version, but that seems a bit awkward.

      When it comes down to it in a fighting game Vs mode >>>> Story mode

      • Laharl

        Except when it’s one of the defining features of the game. Like Ehrgiez without the RPG Mode.

        • neo_firenze

           Defining features of the game?  The original game (and the tweaked revision with added characters among other changes) is an arcade game on Capcom’s CPS3 hardware.  The universally accepted better port was the DC version (which was a straight port or each of the arcade versions on one disc).  The PSX home version story mode was an interesting addition which didn’t make up for the far inferior port, which didn’t even include all of the characters from the final arcade/DC release.

          So, for fans of the actual fighting game and not the bells and whistles on the worse of the original console ports, the arcade/DC version is what they expect and the actual fighting is the defining feature of the game.  This new HD version is a good port with the big addition of online play.

          • Laharl

            Big deal, there are plenty of better balanced and cheaper fighters out there. This is another subpar HD port from Capcom.
            Sent from my Verizon Wireless smartphone

          • neo_firenze

             This obviously isn’t made for you then.  It’s a port of a 90s cult favorite fighter, obviously targeted at the niche fan base.  It’s not about balance and modern trappings, it’s a way to play an old favorite on your modern console setup with an added bonus of network play.

            The price is a big clue at the niche status – Capcom likely charged a higher price because they know the target audience will pay a bit of a premium, and the mass market audience wouldn’t care about the game regardless of price.  $5 or $20, Joe Average isn’t going to care about a 90s fighting game based on a manga series.  To an actual Jojo fan?  $14.99 or $19.99 is a fairly irrelevant distinction that isn’t a very big deal.

            As for balance, I’m not sure people even really KNOW how the higher level competitive balance is because there hasn’t ever been much of a competitive scene for the game.  Maybe now we’ll actually get to find out now that fans of the game can more easily play each other through the online functionality of this new port.

            For those fighting game fans who haven’t played it and may be considering, I find the Jojo games feel a little like the Darkstalkers series in flow and pacing, with the unique hook of [almost] all of the characters having a “stand” – a summon/familiar character that allows for some interesting combos and setups.   Has that CPS-3 based look/feel too – reminiscent of the Street Fighter 3 games from the same arcade hardware, but with a more manga-fied graphical style. 

          • Laharl

            So which is it? A competative fighter or a cult fanservice game?

            Either way SF3 is a better deal and broader range for vs fans, and cult fans are just better off with their PSX copies.

          • neo_firenze

             Can’t reply to your most recent reply, but:

            1) Jojo is more of a cult game (as in, not widely popular but the fans that like it tend to really like it a lot), but that doesn’t mean it can’t also have competitive balance.  Since it wasn’t really widely popular even in its original release, and it was hard to find competition, I don’t know that the community even knows its potential for competitive balance just due to the difficulty of finding similarly skilled opponents.  That’s something that the new online capable release might actually help.

            2) “cult fans are just better off with their PSX copies”.  Um… no.  DREAMCAST copies if anything, since that’s the superior previous port.  But since the new port is really just the DC/arcade version plus online play and some graphical filters, why not accept that as the new best version?

            I won’t argue that SF3 is a better game, because Third Strike is my favorite video game ever made (check my avatar).  Doesn’t mean I can’t also enjoy Jojo though, and I enjoy it more in its original arcade form, which is ported well to DC and now to XBLA/PSN, than to the PSX port which while it does have extra story mode content, is a noticeably inferior port of the actual GAME. 

          • Laharl

            Exactly the reason this port is a joke, it’s just a filter of a DC game. They couldn’t even bother with one of the most loved features of the PSX version.
            No matter how you look at it, it’s an overpriced joke.

          • Ty Austin

            Capcom releasing this game is a shock quite honestly.  Capcom knows it’s not going to get big sales out of it, so why bother splicing the two ports together?  Not to mention they both play different, so i’m not even sure how that would work.
            The story mode isn’t a ‘beloved feature’ the actual gameplay itself is, and you’re robbing the players of that if you choose story mode or gameplay.  Neo said it best, even priced at 15, people aren’t going to pick this up unless they’re fans, because they don’t know what it is.  Fans of the game will pick it up regardless of the price difference. 

            I think it’s because you’re not big into Fighting games or the community surrounding them, you just aren’t going to understand. These extra features aren’t what everyone wants, it’s the solid gameplay.  Just being able to play this again is reason enough to buy if you’re a fan.

            I don’t think i’m going to continue this discussion any further, you’re either trolling, or don’t understand why fighting games are enjoyed.

          • Laharl

            Oh goody, another pretentious tourneytard tells a lowly casual why hes wrong about what games should do.
            Sent from my Verizon Wireless smartphone

          • All right, that’s enough. You’re the one who raised the complaints here, and neo in particular gave you a thorough background history on why. I’m not even close to tournament play level, and I understand how important balance is in a fighter. If you’re not gonna respect the people answering your questions, don’t ask to begin with. You’ve been on the site long enough; you should know the rules by now.

            And do something about that “Sent from my Verizon Wireless smartphone”. I’ve never heard of platforms wanting a line in a website comment; even Twitter’s source indicators don’t interfere with actual Tweets. It doesn’t even appear consistently either. (If you’re typing it in yourself, stop; it’s irrelevant to any conversation on the site.)

          • Laharl

            I don’t recall asking a question. I noted that a feature that a,lot of people liked was removed.
            You people are the ones saying that online players are all that matters and the lowly story mode fans should suck it up…
            While ironically agreeing that there are better, cheaper competitve games and that Jojo has unknown balancing for online play

            It’s not “Consistent” Because I’m not always using my phone, and I don’t really notice it when I’m typing it out on my phone.

            You may know a lot about Fighting Games, but you should probably spend more time learning common sense and not jumping to conclusions and being a judgmental ass.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Sir, all we are doing tonight is asking everyone to stop this line of discussion. It is one big circle where no one is saying a thing that has not been said before. 

            Let’s move on.

          • Now you’re just twisting what they said. They’re saying that good mechanics are what matters in a fighting game; what you’re saying is that you prioritize Story Mode over that. Other more balanced games being available on the market has no relevance to the conversation; this is about what can make this game to be a better product in what it intends to offer: Fighting. This has already been explained to you:

            “A good story mode will last one play through, solid gameplay will last far longer, especially when the emphasis on this game is the online play”

            Sure, you’re free to like what you want, but calling a game inferior just because a minor feature you personally favor isn’t carried over is missing the bigger perspective. And just because it originally wasn’t a very balanced game doesn’t mean the update can’t strive to be a valid title in its genre – no “irony” in that.

            And yes, I know you didn’t raise any questions, grammatically speaking. But your statements are just as confused/uninformed, which is why others explained things to you to begin with.

          • Laharl

            Actually, you are twisting what I said.

            I don’t care if a game doesn’t have online, or if modes are removed, I just felt it was a weak omission.

            My problem are these Pretentious Jackasses telling me that I’m wrong for playing a fighting game for the story mode.

            Who cares if the mode wasn’t in the original? For that extreme of a price point they should have figured a way to add it into the better engine.

            EDIT: Besides, a Story Mode is part of the gameplay, It was a pretty massive mode that contained a lot of unlockables and a rating system to unlock even more.

            And if the game is an unbalanced wreck online, it would be nice to have that extra content to fall back on.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Sir, I have asked three times for you to end these discussions. Everyone else involved understood at one. Warned for continuing to repeat the same arguments over and over.

          • Ty Austin

            Said it much better than I, lol

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Thank you for understanding this discussion really does need to end tonight.

        • Ty Austin

          When you’re releasing a fighting game, 99% of the time people will be playing versus mode online or off, the faithful gameplay is the defining feature, not the story mode.  

          A good story mode will last one play through, solid gameplay will last far longer, especially when the emphasis on this game is the online play, why release the inferior product?  

          It would be like if Capcom released the PSX ports of Marvel and MVC1 for Marvel Origins, terrible.

          Ehrgiez’s RPG mode is a completely separate beast and can be played for hours.  This was back in the day when you really needed features to pull someone in, because the game itself doesn’t really cut it.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          Hi there — @neo_firenze:disqus sees this release one way, you see it another. Neo will buy and enjoy, you will choose to spend your money elsewhere. Let’s all leave things at this point.

  • For 20 dollars, I don’t think it has that much heart or soul.

  • Ty Austin

    This game is really just to cater to the Jojo fans (as is evident in the majority of the online players being from Japan.)  

    If you’re picking it up, it’s not for the HD filter. The $5 difference really isn’t that big of a deal if it means I get to play this game again with a proper online community.

  • thaKingRocka

    The demo did not allow me to turn off the wallpaper. Does $20 buy you this incredible premium feature?

    • That was actually what really frustrated me with my purchase of Arcana Hearts 3 and Sonic Adventure HD.  I know their are a lot of black-bar haters out there, but those same black bars allow me to focus on whats going on between them.  

      I love the art in this game, but decorated pillar boxes are distracting to some.  All games that have an aspect ratio both smaller or larger then 16:9 ratio, should at least have the option…yes the option, to have letterboxes painted black.

      • thaKingRocka

        I once had a lengthy exchange with UFO over this issue. They claimed that MS was forcing them to have no blank space, but I pointed out that Cave and others had found ways around that foolish and unnecessary requirement (if it was even true).

        I have never purchased an SNK game on XBLA or PSN because they force filters, which I really hate more than anything, and border art.

  • want to play.. HD w0w

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