JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle Plays Like SFIV, But With Sidestepping

By Cheng Kai . August 28, 2013 . 12:42am

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Earlier this year CyberConnect2 president and CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama told us that the style of play and controls in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle would be similar to a conventional fighting game – at least more so than the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm series. At the time, I was a little skeptical about All Star Battle being structured like a conventional fighter. So when I went down to a media games preview event to try out a demo build of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle that had 11 playable characters, I chose to leave my trusty arcade fight stick behind… only to be regretting my decision a short 10 minutes into playing the demo build.

 

The controls on the Dual Shock 3 suffice. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle uses quarter-circle (236 and 214 in numpad notation), semi-circle (63214 or 412336), and dragon-punch motions (623 or 421) for special moves. However, I felt that I could have been that much more precise had I brought a joystick with me. There are no double quarter-circle commands (236236) here, but otherwise, fundamentally All Star Battle plays a lot like Street Fighter IV with an added sidestepping mechanic. Although the battle stages are 3D in nature, most of the fighting action is locked to a 2D plane.

 

Before delving into the mechanics, I’m going to quickly run through the controls first, in case you’re not familiar with All Star’s Battle control scheme.

 

The D-pad or analog stick controls movement, which works pretty much like the movement controls in Street Fighter and other similar 2D fighters. Holding back will allow you to block (yes, there are cross-up jump-in attacks in this game), double-tapping forward and holding the direction will make your character sprint forward, while double-tapping backwards will initiate a backdash. In Joseph Joestar’s case, on top of a backdash, he also has a "run away" special command, performed by double-tapping backwards and holding on to that direction.

 

On a standard Dual Shock 3 controller, the square, triangle, and O face buttons correspond to your three main attack buttons: Weak, Medium, and Heavy. A throw is performed by hitting the triangle and O button (Medium + Heavy) at the same time – or you could just hit the R2 trigger, assuming your controls are on the default setting. X is your sidestep or evasive roll maneuver, and pressing it on its own will let you roll into the background, whereas entering down+X makes your character roll into the foreground.

 

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Sidestepping Vs. Stylish Move

Unlike in the King of Fighter games, when you perform an evasive roll in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, the distance between you and your opponent remains largely the same since you’re rolling into the foreground or background, as opposed to rolling towards your opponent. What this means is that evasive rolls are more useful in close-quarters situation, than in distanced combat. In this sense the evasive rolls here are similar in function to sidestepping in 3D fighters.

 

Apart from evasive rolls, there’s a different type of sidestep called "Stylish Move," which makes your character striking a signature JoJo pose as he or she skillfully dodges an incoming attack. Although Stylish Move is technically the real sidestep in All Star Battle, as a mechanic it’s more similar to parrying in Street Fighter III or a Just Guard in Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves – you tap the back direction just slightly before your opponent’s attack is about to land. A Stylish Move consumes part of your guard gauge (if you block too much, the gauge will deplete, triggering a guard crush), so you can’t do too many of them in a sequence. In terms of utility, Stylish Move gives you a slightly better opportunity at catching your opponent off guard than an evasive roll.

 

What I found interesting about Stylish Move is it appears that you can perform one while in block stun – while you’re in the middle of blocking a chain of attacks. I’m not 100% sure if this works while you’re blocking any attack, or if it’s only applicable for certain ones, as I stumbled upon this discovery as I was trying to mash Part III Dio’s 214+Attack command while blocking Jolyne Kujo’s rush punch attack. Somehow, in the middle of blocking the flurry of rush punches, I was able to activate Stylish Move, which naturally gave me a huge opening since Jolyne was still stuck in the rush punch attack animation. Learning where and when you should perform a Stylish Move to create an opening is probably going to be one of the most important aspects of  JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle.

 

Stylish Move is not always better than the simple evasive roll, however. For instance, when Dio approaches your character with a teleport attack, it’s a lot easier to dodge the move by performing an evasive roll than to try for a Stylish Move. Especially, since there is the possibility that Dio might appear from behind.

 

R1: The "Style" Button

The rest of the buttons (R1, L1, L2) serve advanced functions. The single most important button that you need to know about is R1, which is your character’s "style" button. What R1 does changes depending on the type of character you’ve selected.

 

There are four types of characters in All Star Battle: Ripple users, Stand users, horseback characters, and Mode users. In the demo, I was able to go hands-on with at least one example of each type, except for Mode users.

 

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Ripple users

If you picked a character who fights using the Ripple technique – the heroes from Part 1 and Part 2 – then R1′s main function is to charge up your Heart Heat Gauge (All Star Battle’s equivalent of your super meter).

 

On top of that, when you perform a special move using the R1 button instead of the Light, Medium, or Heavy commands, you’ll get a Ripple-infused version of the same attack, which consumes a little of your Heart Heat Gauge to perform, but generally has stronger properties over the regular versions of the special move. Essentially it works like an EX attack.

 

For Ripple users, the R1 button can also be used defensively. Holding the R1 button while blocking will cause your Heart Heat Gauge to drain, but protect you from taking chip damage.

 

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Stand users

If you picked a character who has a Stand (a stand is like a Persona, but since JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure precedes the Persona franchise, it’s technically more accurate to say a Persona is like a Stand), then R1 will toggle between activating and deactivating your Stand.

 

Most of the Stand characters have entirely different movesets depending on whether their Stand is activated or not. For instance, in Josuke Higashikata’s case, when his Stand is not activated, 236+Attack performs his rush punch signature attack. If his Stand is out, then 236+Attack is a command grab that ends with a rush punch. On the other hand, Part 3′s Kujo Jotaro has special moves that do not really vary by much regardless if his Stand is out or not. Since a great many JoJo fans are likely to gravitate towards picking Kujo Jotaro, CyberConnect2 probably decided to make him the Stand character of choice for beginners.

 

Sometimes activating a Stand may also change the properties of your normal or jumping attacks. Giorno Giovanni’s jump Heavy does not have the ability to cross-up on an opponent when his Stand is not activated. When it is, there is an additional hit box added to Giorno’s jump Heavy attack that turns it into a cross-up move if you jump at your opponent from the right distance.

 

One other thing to note about Stand users is that they can perform something called a Stand Rush. When your character’s Stand is activated, during certain special attacks, you can hit the R1 button to perform a Stand Rush. This makes a flash and gives you control over your character while his or her stand is still in the middle of performing the special attack. Essentially, this is a combo extender. For characters with a Stand, a typical combo will look something like this: Light, Medium, Heavy, Special Move (hit R1 to Stand Rush), dash forward, Light, Medium, Heavy, a sweep attack to end the combo.

 

After activating a Stand Rush, you will not be able to reactivate your Stand, or perform a special attack. So during the second round of Light, Medium, and Heavy attacks, you won’t be able to cancel any of those moves into a special or a super – but you can end with a sweep (crouching Heavy). Not every special move is compliant with Stand Rush. Command grabs, for instance. Also, when I played with Jolyne Kujo, all of her special moves seemed to be incompatible with Stand Rush – not even her rush punch signature move.

 

Horseback characters

Like Stand users, the R1 button is used to mount or dismount your horse. While on horseback, these characters – namely Johnny Joestar and Gyro Zeppeli from Part 7 – are taller and faster than most other characters, and are invulnerable to regular grapples.

 

To balance the increase in offense while on horseback, when you’re knocked off your horse, these characters tend to be a lot less mobile – especially in the case of Johnny Joestar, who can’t even jump. While on horseback, or as you are mounting a horse, although you are invulnerable to regular throws, but you can still be hit by a command grab. This was something I learnt the hard way during a real match against a Namco Bandai representative, who, as Dio, just kept hitting me with command grabs as I was trying to get onto the horse.

 

L1: Great Heart Attack

Each character in All Star Battle possesses two super moves. There is a Heart Heat Attack (HHA), which requires only one stock of Heart Heat Gauge and is super-cancellable from a normal or special move. Great Heart Attack (GHA) requires two stocks, and cannot be super-cancellable.

 

But the great thing (or horrible thing, depending on your perspective) about the GHA is that you can activate it by simply tapping the L1 button. A one-touch Level 2 super move being complete nonsense, but it’s not like you could spam GHAs anytime you want, since it requires two out of a maximum of three Heart Heat Gauge stocks. Plus, you can still opt for performing a GHA the traditional way: by entering 236+all three attack buttons. An HHA is performed by entering 236+any two of the three main attack buttons. There are no shortcuts for HHA.

 

"Puttsun" cancel

This works exactly like an FADC in Street Fighter IV, or a Roman Cancel in the Guilty Gear or BlazBlue games, allowing you to cancel your character’s current animation  back into a neutral state, for the purpose of starting another attack to extend your combo. This costs one stock of Heart Heat Gauge.

 

Apparently, "Puttsun" is an onomatopoeia referring to the sound of a string or chord snapping – an effect that signifies a sudden change in plans. Not all special moves can be Puttsun cancelled, however. For instance, although Will A. Zeppeli possesses a myriad of special attacks, the only one that can be Puttsun cancelled is his Ripple Cutter, a projectile attack.

 

After performing a Stand Rush, you could activate a Puttsun cancel to go back to a neutral state, but the rules about not being able to activate your Stand again or performing another special move – without dropping the combo – is not possible.

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Other thoughts

The demo build that I played contained only 11 characters (protagonists of Parts 1 to 6, Johnny Joestar, Dio, Will A. Zeppeli, Jean Pierre Polnareff, and Okuyasu Nijimura), and thus far the impression I got from the game is that it’s quite difficult to anti-air a jumping opponent (making it easy to approach with a jump), but relatively easy to react to and block every single attack that your opponent throws at you. That is, I did not find a lot of 50/50 high/low guessing game mix-ups in the demo that I played. So I’m guessing that depleting your opponent’s guard gauge, or otherwise using Stylish Move or evasive rolls effectively, to create openings for massive combos.

 

One thing that I forgot to thoroughly check in the demo build was the speed of throws in All Star Battle for the purpose of tick-throwing, and if there were any applicable option-selects for throw escapes. As a lot of All Star Battle’s fundamentals seem to be inspired by Street Fighter IV, there is a good chance that a lot of what works in SF4 – footsies, tick throws, delayed attacks – would work in this game. Set-ups that involve knocking your opponent down and jumping in at the right timing might be key in this game.

 

The other main method of opening up your opponent might be to make him block a rush punch attack (many Stand users possess this special move), activating a Puttsun cancel, and then jumping in while your opponent is still blocking, to set-up a guessing game between going for a jump-in attack (which requires your opponent to block standing), or an empty jump leading into a low attack (requires crouch block to defend).


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  • Wait what

    What an in-depth look at the game. This will come in handy if I do wind up importing this.

  • SHSL Big Bro

    I actually liked this article a lot, mostly due to the extra information about how the fighting game itself handles – it’s rare that someone tells you that you can puttstun cancel and then offer suggestions about what you can actually pull off with said tactic.

  • leingod

    Oh my, that sounds incredible. Does this have any chance of localization like the Capcom game back in the day? Or else I’ll just have to import…

    • Kyle McDaniel

      Sadly there’s 0 chance of it ever getting localized.

      • Ninastars

        I wouldn’t say so. A digital release for EU could be entirely possible at least.

        • leingod

          Hope that’s true, and not only for Europe.

      • Tonton Ramos

        Saints Seiya Brave Soldiers is getting localized I hope for this game as well…

        • Herok♞

          Every character name is a reference to a band they would have to change a lot and I hear someone high up doesn’t like changing things, so for that reason it could never be localized for fear of lawsuits.

          • TiAn

            I’ll be fine with a subbed version with english menù :/

          • Edgar Vaughn

            you’ve must of forgot about jojo game made by capcom and oh wait guilty gear which those characters are named after bands as well! It will come to the US!

          • Herok♞

            in the capcom jojo game they changed Vanilla Ice to Iced

  • AkuLord3

    “The demo build that I played contained only 11 characters (protagonists of Parts 1 to 6″
    Might want to fix that to Parts 1-7, but yeah pretty interesting and good read on things

    • KingofSarus

      I was just about to point that out, as Johnny Joestar IS Part VII’s protagonist, other than that, damn good read. Good shit.

    • EA575

      Gyro is actually the main protagonist #Kappa

  • Muffum

    I had to read this right after learning my copy shipped. Now the wait’ll be even more unbearable.

    • maryannaweinreb

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      Oh my, that sounds incredible. Does this have any chance of localization like the Capcom game back in the day? Or else I’ll just have to import…

      • Guest

        My fist is making $51/hour online. Punching your bot face.

        • Shady Shariest

          Don’t be that harsh, it’s a virus-spam-ad-thingy that makes spam appear on the start of replies and messages :3

      • Shady Shariest

        *Ninja Spam appears!*

  • British_Otaku

    A LOT OF INFORMATION, Cheng. Well done.
    It’s probably CC2′s best fighter by a landslide based on all of this. >_>
    The evasive rolls remind me of the dodging into the 3rd Dimension in Gundam Battle Assault, Dragon Ball Z Hyper Dimension or Smash Bros (Block and Down). Sounds like a good choice to keep the action going, I may pick this up later… >_>

  • Sentsuizan_93

    This is a very well written impression of the game. If this does make it outside Japan, Day 1 buy. If it doesn’t, might be a credit card draining import. Either way, this is a very well done analysis of the game.

  • James Williams

    A lot of great info here!
    Does anyone else know if this will be available on the PSN store though? I don’t think i can cope with waiting for it to ship.

  • KyoyaHibari

    Ugh, I hope it isn’t as stilted as SFIV and combos are actually viable and serve a purpose, the gameplay footage looks promising, but once I get my hands on it then I’ll get a feel for things. I’m hype about all the new DLC characters, but I hope the gameplay can deliver.

    • Kelohmello

      Are you implying combos aren’t viable and don’t serve a purpose in SFIV?

      • KyoyaHibari

        Indeed. Anything that ends with a super or ultra puts it to scale with the normal super/ultra damage, so whether you do a shoryuken to Metsu Hadoken or some really long combo to Metsu Hadoken, it hardly makes an ounce of difference. Not to mention juggling is mediocre to begin with and the mid-combo FADC system is needlessly convoluted and strict. Things scale to an insane degree and high level play ends up being zoning spam and pokes all the time. KoFXIII on the other hand has combos with a lot of variety, aggressive gameplay, better defense mechanics and cancels that make sense.

        • Kelohmello

          Just because combos scale doesn’t mean they aren’t viable/are purposeless. You use combos to optimize your damage every time you get a hit. If you do that, you have to hit them less, increasing your chances of winning. That’s one of the major fundamentals of any fighting game. SFIV isn’t any different in that regard, every hitconfirm you get you convert into a combo to increase your damage output, then you use specific enders to get okizeme options if possible, which give you mixup opportunities for more damage. They hurt the other guy and put you in a more advantageous position most of the time, just like pretty much every other fighting game. Also worth mentioning that it’s hard to take you seriously when you talk about KOFXIII combos, many of which at a competitive level are ridiculously hard to pull off consistently, then say that FADC is needlessly convoluted and strict.

          • KyoyaHibari

            So having to do a move, press a combination of 2 buttons to do a focus attack cancel mid attack, then do a dash by quickly double tapping forward all in a nano second all to get the freedom to get to another move is easier than just inputting another command while the frames for one are already going? Plus there’s the actual distance at which you advance from this that you have to gauge as well when thinking of how to approach and connect with the next move. I can’t level with you there. I argue KoF combos are easier due to them being derivative of the ease of cancels themselves and it is only a matter of knowing move properties which work in certain ways to connect them to one another which is basic fighter understanding, so just acknowledging the ins and outs of a command move and all their different forms is all you need while not having a whole separate command that needs to be inputted at an insane speed in order to transition into another. If there’s any difficulty with KoF combos, it’s in the air time and limitations of which moves are able to link from one another which is relative to SFIV as well. My statement about combos not being totally viable I will admit, wasn’t totally clear, but it is the difference in length when topped with a super and ultra which seems fruitless as I explained earlier. It has an almost identical end result in damage once the super/ultra is done, so why pull of the more difficult combo if it has nearly the exact same damage as the simpler one? There maybe some adequate combos (in terms of damage) sans supers/ultras, but it makes it rather disappointing if you want some variety and better damage with combos ending in aforementioned moves which would make the ender more fearsome and spectacular rather than having a stagnant output equivalent to a bare super/ultra that you already expect.

          • Kelohmello

            “So having to do a move, press a combination of 2 buttons to do a focus attack cancel mid attack, then do a dash by quickly double tapping forward all in a nano second all to get the freedom to get to another move is easier than just inputting another command while the frames for one are already going?”

            FADC isn’t that strict nor are KOF combos as simple as what you described, unless you’re doing the absolute basic stuff. I question how familiar you are with either of the games you’re talking about. As far as ultras doing less damage because you purposely chose to do a sub-optimal combo, welcome to fighting games. If you choose to scale damage, that’s entirely your fault– all fighting games work like that, sometimes the hardest, longest combo doesn’t lead to the best damage. If you just wanna show off with a cool combo then who cares how much damage it does anyways if it’s the same amount? You’re doing it for the sake of looking cool, not winning the match.

          • courte

            fadc the road of options with multiple exits? pr rog was sure glad about the option to hit with a focus attack or dash out. hell you can charge up that focus attack a level or two. then force you’re opponent into a rarely seen guessing game. he’s wide open should i just get away or can i hit him with an armor breaker or a 2 hit before he gets through?

            combos aren’t pointless. ultras and supers aren’t pointless. it’s how they are used. you won’t see combos in sf3 taking as long, but in sfiv you’re given the option in a lot of areas, and mostly at least at the high level, it’s a big of a brag to show off your execution skill.

            i don’t look at the scaling and say “then every combo done is dumb” i look at the people playing and say “why minimize your damage at any possible opportunity?” it’s not on the game it’s on the people. case in point, which is something that if you’re as intelligent as you seem, you’ve noticed no doubt. everyone plays sfxt and gets a blast out of boost combos which chain like butter… but after week one everyone keeps using them like it’s the first day, even though training mode will clearly tell you exactly how the scaling breaks down, but still they do it.just jab into fierce if you must!

          • KyoyaHibari

            You questioning my familiarity is reciprocated with me wondering about yourself. What do you mean “[I] choose to scale damage”? That’s the mechanics at work; I’ve witnessed people do Ultra based combos that differ in length but do the same damage which sounds absurd. I don’t know what you consider “sub-optimal” but that’s what happens one way or another, and in SFIV, you can do a simple shoryuken > Metsu Hadoken and it will do the same damage as a longer combo ending in a Metsu Hadoken. This isn’t present in KoF XIII, the overall damage of a Neo Max super may be scaled WITHIN the combo so damage doesn’t get too insanely on-point, but you can see the difference in damage between a Max super stand-alone and one in a combo in the end result. With that said, I find there is more purpose in combos in KoF XIII due to this, and it is not simply a matter of style with making long combos; the memorization and execution pays off with higher damage output. I can understand you are defending SFIV and the notion of “coolness” when doing a large combo, but to me personally I can’t respect that and like KoF XIII because there’s more to gain within the realm of the match. Why burden yourself with trying to remember a longer string just to look cool if in the long run you are trying to win the match with the most optimal and efficient options? (Not to say that I encourage spam, quite the contrary, I want variety but combos that will get you somewhere more easily or that are proportionately damaging with length.) I never stated that personally was my intention, and I don’t know who does play with purely that mentality, but it seems more prevalent in SF and concurrently I don’t like SFIV because of the gameplay and that ideology.

  • Herok♞

    I love fighters and I am enjoying Jojo, I plan on importing this once I finish reading the manga.

  • RazeXI

    I got worried when it said “it plays like street fighter IV” it made me think that jojo’s whole meta game was a defensive playstyle but thankfully that’s not the case here.

  • Kelohmello

    Man, that’s a really… off, statement, “Plays like Street Fighter IV but with sidestepping”. Sidestepping is hardly the largest difference.

    Still, that being said, good article, very good breakdown of the mechanics.

  • KyoyaHibari

    SFIV comparison aside, this is a thoroughly detailed and well done article, kudos to Cheng.

  • Göran Isacson

    I must admit, it does look like this is far more advanced than their Naruto games. Gotta wonder how the game will be received over here… IF it ever gets over here, that is…

  • Vash bane

    “In Joseph Joestar’s case, on top of a backdash, he also has a “run away” special command”

    this is ten time funnier after finishing that arc lol

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