Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle – Looks Aren’t Everything

By Jack . May 24, 2014 . 5:00pm

“I love Jojo and I love fighting games, so I will definitely love this.” That was my thought process going into Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, the new 2D fighting game that has surprisingly received a western localization from Bandai Namco. I was hyped and ready to dive into the game, but my feelings coming out were more mixed than I expected.

 

In reality, All Star Battle is not the kind of fighting game I love. It looks and acts like one, borrowing heavily from Capcom’s decade-old Jojo fighter, but comparing the two any further feels unfair. All Star Battle runs at 30 frames-per-second, the movesets can be incredibly awkward and unbalanced, and in general the game just feels slow. Nothing about this game says that the developers were going for a strong core fighting experience. In other words, All Star Battle is less about being a good game and more about capturing the essence of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

 

All Star Battle is fanservice taken to an almost unimaginable extreme. Basically every pose, attack, and line of dialogue for every character in the game can be traced back to a panel from the manga. It’s truly a sight to behold: whether it’s witnessing Dio’s classic time-freeze steamroller attack or Joseph Joestar’s goofy idle animations, the visuals of All Star Battle are lovingly crafted to perfection.

 

The game is distinctively Jojo, both in its look and mechanics. If you taunt on an opponent who has fallen down, the camera zooms into a pose, which not only looks stylish but drains the enemy’s meter. Every stage is based on a specific arc of the manga, complete with distinctive art styles and stage hazards. Characters like Speedwagon and Steven Steel guide you through all of the game’s menus. Perhaps the game’s greatest strength and weakness is that it builds the playable characters almost entirely around references to their story arcs, which is great fanservice but can sometimes restrict the game design.

 

Without the core appeal of playing a fighting game, All Star Battle needs to hold your interest through less traditional means. To that end, it offers a variety of modes to choose from including the standard Arcade mode, along with Story and Campaign modes. Arcade is simple enough, offering the usual randomized AI fights, but the real draws are the other two modes.

 

Story mode covers the events of the first seven Jojo arcs, using the character roster to recreate some of the most iconic fights from the series. Considering the effort that went into perfectly recreating the characters in 3D, I was surprised at how cheap this mode felt: the entire story is told through short text boxes with fights thrown in to keep your interest. Story mode condenses the majority of the plot, and the battles have very little variations to make the mode stand out from the typical arcade mode. The only thing the mode adds to the mix is specific challenges to most every fight, which involve performing moves that actually happened during the manga.

 

My whole time playing I kept wondering who exactly this mode was made to please. Newcomers should really stay away, as major plot points are revealed in the most unsatisfying ways possible, while Jojo veterans are unlikely to be impressed by the low production values of retelling. Either way, the play time for going through all the arcs is very short, with the only extras involving playing all the fights from the opposite perspective, despite the story unfolding the same way. The story mode is surprisingly lame addition, with the only real incentive for playing being to unlock the entirety of the roster.

 

Probably the strangest mode is Campaign, which works like a mobile phone game without the mobility. In this mode you “search” for boss characters, which upon defeat drop various rewards like extra taunts, color palettes, and alternate costumes for the entire cast. To search for these foes you use up a point of energy from a meter at the top of screen, which recharges over time.

 

The scheme here is that there’s an item shop available for you to pay real money for special perks, like a quick battery recharge or getting the boss with the drops you want to appear. They say time is money, and that’s really how it works here: either you pay or you wait. It’s a system developed to test your patience in attempt to get into your wallet, and I’m just kind of baffled as to why this mode is in a console game that is being sold as a full-price product.

 

I actually spent more time on this mode than anything else in All Star Battle, but not because I was enjoying it. This is the hub of unlockable content; if you want anything that actually appears during matches then slogging through this mode is mandatory. In order to get that content, you have to play match after match against the standard weak AI bosses in order to whittle their health down. And that’s if you can even find the boss you want in the random searching system!

 

It’s hard to look at this as anything other than a “Bandai Namco needs money and isn’t afraid to take your time hostage to get it” mode. There’s random perks thrown at you like paying energy to find a specific boss or free recharges, but they feel more like a “please don’t stop playing!” gift than charity. Not once did I feel inclined to buy an item, instead my only temptation was to shut the game off. I really wish these unlockables could have been placed in a more interesting concept akin to SoulCalibur’s Weapon Master or Mortal Kombat’s Challenge Tower, but instead all we get is a glorified grind.

 

Rounding out the package is the online multiplayer, which is similarly underwhelming. Maybe I just have bad luck after 20+ matches, but anything other than what the game considered to be a perfect “blue” connection resulted in hilarious lag. Whether it’s the constant interruptions by a message informing you about the game’s desperate attempt to maintain connection with the other player or input lag so bad that your character appears to have developed a mind of its own, the netcode is just poor. Forget having a competitive fighting game experience, even messing around with a friend proved to be a futile exercise.

 

All of this isn’t to say that All Star Battle is completely irredeemable. Despite my apprehensions towards its fighting mechanics, I enjoyed All Star Battle for the first few hours I played it. It’s a fun game to play around in (as long as you do it locally) with a staggering amount of detail to every character and stage. Unfortunately, All Star Battle failed to keep my interest beyond that, as both a fighting game and a fanservice game. My lingering hope is that at some point this game gets a sequel that either strengthens its core fighting mechanics or gives a comprehensive single-player experience, until then I’d say All Star Battle is little more than serviceable.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. Akin to Bandai Namco’s free-to-play fighters like SoulCalibur: Lost Swords and Tekken Revolution, All Star Battle’s Campaign mode is forces you to be connected to the internet. It makes sense considering the free-to-play-esque environment the mode has, but it’s a shame that the majority of the game’s best unlockables are sealed off in this manner, eventually becoming unobtainable whenever Bandai Namco decides to shut the servers down.

 

2. There’s a whopping nine DLC characters available to buy on top of a thirty-two character roster, and I still wish there was more.  It’s a testament to how fun and quirky the universe of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is that almost every character idea would be fun to put in a fighting game. Personally I’m hoping in an update or sequel we get to see Stroheim from Part II and Mushikui, the sniper rat from Part IV.

 

3. Joseph Joestar’s “Your next line is” move has to be one of the greatest ideas for a fighting game ever.

 

4. Since Part VIII is still ongoing, it gets the least representation out of all the arcs. I was amused by the developers’ solution for the story mode covering this arc, but I wish Josuke 8 had a little more to say to everyone than variations of “I’ve lost my memories!”


Read more stories about & & on Siliconera.

  • vileBrenman

    I dunno Me and my buds are huge jojo fans so of course we love this game. We are also huge fighting game addicts. We admit that this game doesn’t have the best balancing but the roster is impressive and the attention to detail is amazing. We like to take turns in campaign mode to unlock the costumes. This game feels a lot better when you have friends to have enjoy it with

    • Manoel Ricardo

      if the attention to detail was amazing it would run 60fps. sorry to say that, but i was really disappointed about that but the game is ok if you play just for fun.

      • SeventhEvening

        I’m struggling to see what attention to detail and 60fps have to do with each other. The game isn’t a competitive fighter in the slightest, but the attention to detail is phenomenal. Each character has unique motions and is fully realized with great dialog. Even the backgrounds are meticulously recreated and the manga frame cuts between the matches are pretty cool. The game was put together extremely well and is painstakingly manga accurate, it just wasn’t made for tournaments.

        Just like CC said.

        • Manoel Ricardo

          yeah but that’s my point. I was expecting for a competitive game but it’s very well detailed in asthestics like you said which is fine for a fun game. i would play with friends and arcade mode ^_^

  • Brion Valkerion

    The game certainly is not great. I honestly regret buying it at full price.

    I think it laid the ground work for something good but maybe in the second or third iteration. The mechanics overall are a bit to shallow for my tastes personally same with the modes in general. It’s “fun” but not quite there as a stand alone game imo.

  • Internet is Crash

    I believe this is CC2′s first traditional fighting game. I enjoyed it as a JoJo game,though I hated it as a fighting game. The side step is both a blessing and a curse because it lets you escape ora and muda spams but somehow forces zoning characters to close in a fight in order to do decent damage.

  • Istillduno

    Campain mode is indefensable but the gameplay is only slow before you learn the game.

    Individual hits and specials can have low damage, but once you combo off that shoots up pretty quickly.

    As for imbalences in move sets, the most glaring ones (Infinites, Diavolo, touch or death stuff) have been patched out, not all are created equal still (Shoutouts to Joleyn with her jump cancelable everthing in stand on into instant overheads), but most characters seem to have a fighting chance.

    • DaiRaiOh

      Considering they lowered the western campaign recharge timer to the point that you can pretty much never run out of points, it’s just fine. They just kept the system in as it’s required to make supports and such work.

      • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

        It is absolutely not fine. If you were only using 1 battery charge per fight then you would never run out, but that’s not how the mode works. You want to unload your whole bar on a boss to do any real damage, otherwise you’re fighting the same boring AI fight repeatedly, slowly whittling down the overall health.

        A better idea than lowering the recharge timer is to just get rid of it. The support cameos are cute but hardly substantial enough to miss. Honestly I got a little tired of seeing anyone other than the Cairo informer, because the repetition and time they take up is not proportionate to the worth of their benefits.

        • DaiRaiOh

          I know how it works, but when it comes down to it, the game isn’t locking you out of playing the mode, and it is giving people a metric s***ton of costumes and colors for free. Not the worst tradeoff in the world by far. Would you have rather they not have the mode and just sold everything instead?

          • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

            I’d rather they make a fun mode to unlock them in like nearly every other fighting game developed by Bandai Namco, to be frank. Even if a lot of those other games end up being grinds too, at least they don’t restrict your ability to play them to get at your wallet.

          • DaiRaiOh

            It wasn’t developed by Bandai Namco though

          • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

            Sorry, published. My point is its peers allow for free costumes and colors without this dumb system in place to restrict it. Which I think you got, since you’re just pointing out technicalities rather than getting at the issue.

            The thing is, costumes and colors aren’t the charity you seem to view them as. Unlocking them is meant to hold your interest in the game, since otherwise Jojo’s content is pretty lacking. Content like this is standard for just about every anime fighting game on the market. Even more egregious DLC-heavy stuff like SF4 lets you unlock 10 or 11 color palettes just for playing.

          • DaiRaiOh

            When it comes down to it, playing the game is what works for me. Having that many extra costumes for free has never been standard when it comes down to fighting games like this. Doesn’t help that comparing SoulCalibur and and Tekken to this game is pretty stupid considering the nature of those games is entirely different with things. All and all, this game is quite fair with things. It was in the japanese version with the 5 minute timer, more so with this version and it’s 2 minute timer All it does is prevent you from unlocking everything within a day. It doesn’t prevent you from playing the game or the mode in anyway.

          • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

            I’m glad you enjoy the mode. However, just because you say things doesn’t make them true. The amount of costumes isn’t a valid point, Jojo doesn’t let you have ANYTHING unless you spend a lot of time slogging through the Campaign. It only hurts your point that even games like SoulCalibur and Tekken that don’t focus more on fanservice manage to outclass this game in content.

            “Fair” is subjective of course, but I think most people would rather be treated like adults with their purchase rather than get their game time limited by some arbitrary suits acting as surrogate parents. You’re working off a technicality that yeah, you CAN still search for an opponent no matter what. But unless you want to grind the same easy AI boss repeatedly, it makes way more sense to just wait or do something else while your battery recharges.

            This is a $50 game sold in stores like it’s a free-to-play mobile game. Namco shouldn’t arbitrarily decide how much people get out of their game and when after they’ve already purchased it. You can like it all you want, but most seem to agree it’s not a good idea.

          • DaiRaiOh

            A lot of time is an exaggeration if I’ve ever seen one. I used to be able to clear out an entire campaign in a day with scattered play in the japanese version with the 5 minute timer. And you again don’t realize how SoulCalibur and Tekken are different so congrats on that. And most who complain don’t own the game, so they’re irrelevant anyway. That’s how it’s always been with this.

  • Shippoyasha

    Apparently, NamBan wants to make the sequel less pay-to-play and more tourney friendly so I guess that’s something.

    Still, the in-game visuals are fast and furious and it does look gorgeous. Once NamBan moves to PS4, hopefully they can convert the gameplay to 60fps.

    The gameplay may be sluggish compared to traditional fighters, but I feel there’s still room for strategy and fighting game reflexes.

    I still think it was an admirable effort, even though they have a lot to fix and get right up on a sequel. Maybe instead of offloading a ton of characters throughout the eras all at once, maybe they can start working on all the major characters in each and every arc, kind of like what Naruto Ninja Storm series did.

    • SeventhEvening

      Well, the game was developed by CC, who said repeatedly that it was a game for fans, not a game for tournaments. The US branch of Namco Bandai said the game was rebalanced and tuned and meant for tournaments, but that was all marketing crap. The US version isn’t much different, if different at all from the Japanese one with the patches.

      But IMHO, that’s fine. If ASBII tweaked the gameplay a bit, added another dozen characters and changed campaign mode, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  • Herok♞

    It was fun for sure but it was lacking in things that make me want to go back to it

  • MSJ

    The game is more about capturing the essence of JJBA.
    Unless you were a fan of the series before, I doubt the game will hold your attention especially if you’re a hardcore competitor in the fighting game scene.

    • Istillduno

      Not really, I mean maybe, if you only play airdashers or 3D fighting games, but as a game with a tempo somewhere between SFIV and KOFXIII it works well as a fighter and the variety of movesets between the characters and the freedom the system allows for things like pressure and combos gives plenty to get your teeth into.

      Zoning and options are also still there at a reasonable force, kept in check by stylish dodge but not completely invalidated by it like 3rd Strike parries did to zoning, you probably won’t outright kill someone with just projectile damage but it acheives the main purpose of controlling space and forcing the opponent to engage you on your terms rather than theirs.

      • MSJ

        That’s good to hear, but this is just not my kind of fighter. I think it’s a fun game when played with a group, but the game is just not as fast paced as I was expecting from JoJo =(

        Ah well who knows… maybe the eventual sequel will fix that

  • Rafael Martines

    Hope they make JoJo ASB 2… without that anoying campaing mode…

    • BalmungX

      And just a bit faster

      • urbanscholar

        A lot faster. I mean Soul Calibur, Tekken & Naruto felt faster. I would hope they get input from these teams to build into the sequel

  • Juan Andrés Valencia

    My main problem is the 30 FPS cap. I know it looks great but unfortunately this turns the relatively clunky fighting engine into a severe issue. The microtransactions are also quite unfortunate.

    I hope tey can release another part of this series on the PS4 or Xbox One without having to pay anything other than the game’s copy.

    • Slickyslacker

      Eugh, that’s such a massive detriment. It may be an anime game, but it’s still a fighting game. That’s kind of unforgivable.

      • Juan Andrés Valencia

        The Naruto games run at 30 FPS or less but there’s also a lot of visual effects including motion blur to make it feel much more fluid. That and the fighting engine is fairly smooth.

        Yeah, it’s definetely unforgivable, not many fighting games run at 30 FPS and there’s a good a reason for that. A true shame since this game is utterly badass and it’s so manly I swear my beard grew 2000 times faster while playing the demo.

  • JoJo_718

    I still need to get this game, freaking amazon cancelled my pre-order for no reason and I still haven’t got my refund, NEVER going to use that site again, anyways, I recently checked the PS Store and noticed the first campaign is gone, does this mean I’ll never be able to get those costumes and taunts?

    • TheBlackRabbit

      go to customer service.

    • Internet is Crash

      I believe campaign 2 contains campaign 1 + new contents

      • JoJo_718

        Really? it’d be great if true!

  • disgaea36

    idk I guess Im the abnormal one here because I enjoyed every minute of it lol. I just started to learn more about the jojo series since I only knew about stardust crusaders so there was a lot for me to enjoy story wise, and the game play just plain fun which recently you really haven’t seen in fighting games like before. The best part was just how well they handled the dlc for the game imo and the campaign does get tedious but I’m currently multitasking as I tackle that part of the game. Best 50 bucks I’ve spent on a fighting game.

  • Aspenharls

    It was fun for a weekend, but I regret having my friend spend money on it as a birthday present for me. The Online on it is too slow to deal with.

    • Internet is Crash

      dat moment when you have to rely on easy beats in an online match. I felt so scrubby and unclean

  • $51888021

    I’m pretty much on the same page here. I have a friend who’s crazy about fighting games, so he brought it over and we played it for a while. By the time he left, I’d about had my fill of it. Not too much interesting or unique going on behind the well-done aesthetics and Jojo fanservice.

  • TiamatNM

    I’m a big jojo fan but I didn’t get it. The more footage I saw the worse the gameplay looked. I tried the demo and it was about what I expected. It feels really slow.

  • SlickRoach

    I bought the limited edition Japanese version (first game I imported in my life) and the NA digital version and I still don’t regret it. It took time to get used to the pace of the game but the sheer amount of references alone are worth the money. Probably the most time I’ve put in a fighter 11/10

  • Tonemanzero

    I personally think the Campaign mode is how we should treat dlc costumes from here on in, if developers continue to insist on trying to make a profit off of costumes. The mere fact that I can sit down and try to grind out the fights for the costumes for free helps really validate its existence for me.

  • Prithivi

    I love Jojo but I didn’t get this game neither. The game is far from being cheap and you still have to pay for all DLC characters (9? that’s 18 € more I think) and I wasn’t a very big fan of the demo. I enjoyed it because it’s Jojo, but gameplay didn’t appeal to me that much.

    I’d have bought the game day 1 if it included more characters from Part VII, which is my favourite story arc; but only three characters from Steel Ball Run? Come on! :(

    I’m 100 % sure that I’ll get this game as soon as it gets a price cut though.

    P.S: Not sure if I used the word “neither” properly! D= D= D=

  • AceWildCard

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dViUz6k4RGI

    Game was interesting mix bag of fun. personally I like it as a pick up and play sorta game. Nothing I’d get too crazy about and over invested into as a fighter.

  • Arcade Bumstead

    Also if you are playing the game in English all the names are fucked up for obvious reasons

    • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

      Filthy Acts At a Reasonable Price is amazing, man.

    • MSJ

      ZIPPER MAN.

      also King Crimson should just been renamed “It Just Works Man”

  • BillyMK

    I consider myself just a casual fighting game fan (since i suck), so I play this game as JoJo fan and I love it.

  • Ethan_Twain

    What? Namco Bandai made a game licensed off a popular anime that prioritizes fanservice over functionality?

    No way.

    • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

      What bothers me about Jojo is that it’s really not that far off from being a good fighting game. It feels like CC2 studied Capcom’s fighter for a while and tried to model their game off of it, but either they are too stuck in their ways or there were some other either issues going on.

      I mean it’s not like it has to be this way, you know? I don’t think developers go into making games with the intention of making the game part bad. Namco makes great fighting games like Tekken and SoulCalibur, they just don’t put that same level of care towards their anime stuff for whatever reason.

      • Ethan_Twain

        I think that the “whatever reason” is “because they don’t have to”.

        You get the fanservice right and the fans will eat it up regardless of underlying game quality. So why waste the time, effort, and money on picky things like balance? Same thing goes for fanservice games with a bunch of anime girls. It’s a problem.

        • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

          I don’t think Jojo’s problems are because the devs don’t care about putting in effort.They’ve been patching the game ever since its Japanese release like 9 or 10 months ago. There was an interview published here just a few weeks ago actually where the developers talked about bringing in pro players and tweaking the game for a hardcore fighting audience.

          But even then, calling fanservice games a problem seems overzealous. Sex and popular brands sell regardless of the medium. As far as Japan goes, we’re not even seeing the worst of it localized here. Ones we do get aren’t devoid of unique concepts or fun ideas, I’ve played enough for Siliconera to know. The dressing for these games are symptoms of the lack of confidence in reaching the bigger market, as the bar for success has been significantly raised.

          Unrealistic standards from publishers, pressure for worldwide success, and the high person/money cost to even develop games are the real issues here. The game industry at large isn’t doing well, for tiny fanservice game companies or the big guys. Anime girls and the myth of lazy developers are just scapegoats.

          • Ethan_Twain

            “calling fanservice games a problem seems overzealous”

            Hoo boy then have I got an overzealous playtest for you. I’m not sure when it’s going up (looks like you got the weekend slot so probably not for a couple of days yet) but we do not see eye to eye on the fanservice thing :)

          • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

            Haha, I’ll keep an eye out then.

  • leingod

    I love the game, but imostly because of its style, unlockables and customization stuff. It’s true the fighting itself is more clunky than not. It’s still enjoyable though!

  • TheCynicalReaper

    Perfect review for the game. Entails everything good and horrendous about it.
    Too bad they didn’t have the budget or passion they did for Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. It would’ve been amazing to go through the JoJo saga with that level of cinematics and story put in.

    Hell, even the dynasty warriors clone Ken’s Rage 2 was a near perfect recreation of the Fist of the North Star series.

    As faithful as this game is visually, it’s all style without substance, which is a shame since JoJo had both.

  • KnifeAndFork

    This game truly is the most any developers has gone in terms of fanservice and accuracy to manga seen so far it’s really amazing how far they went. It’s too bad they fell extremely short on the story mode and Namco got greedy with their forced f2p campaign mode they’ve been recently doing with Ridge Racer, Ace Combat, Soul Calibur and Tekken.
    Seriously keep that crap model on mobile phones only

  • 60hz

    stopped reading after 30fps

  • TobeGrendizer92

    Considering the speed of my instincts, I consider the marginally slower pace of the gameplay to be a good thing. I’ve heard people say how how 30 FPS Fighters are just too clunky, but this is a difference I am literally incapable of seeing. I also don’t see why people complain about Campaign Mode. Energy recharges in roughly the amount of time it takes to play a single match. It’s fun and the rewards are worth it.

    What I don’t like is how absurdly tough the AI is. Instead of Normal Versus giving a reasonable challenge, it’s pull-your-hair-out agonizingly hard. Not like the much easier Street Fighter IV. Online is thus much more fun to play.

  • Arcueid Brunstud

    is the game complicated or is it shallow? the controls are what threw me off.

    • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

      I’d say it’s shallow for a fighting game, but it still has the base level complications that might keep someone away from the fighting genre. There are a few things to ease newcomers in like an automatic combo for every character you can activate by repeatedly pressing the square button repeatedly and the special motions rarely getting more complicated than the standard Hadoken and Shoryuken motions that most games in the genre adopt.

      • Arcueid Brunstud

        I could not figure out the fighting and I like fighters that take skill

  • Hiro Oozora

    I just wish Stylish Dodge was tied to sidestepping instead of blocking.

  • Moribund Cadaver

    Personally I found the game to be a fair bit better as a fighting game. I think its primary flaw is performance related – throttling it a 30fps really throws the player off for a fighting game and it creates the sensation that it is slower and clunkier than it actually is. It takes some work to really get into the game engine and appreciate how the play is supposed to flow. I can’t blame someone for having trouble acclimating to it.

    But I got too curious, watched some match videos to get an idea of the pace, and stuck with it. I’m having a fair bit of fun now. The developers did create a really solid fighting game under the hood. A lot of the essentials are in fact there, though they are hidden by the bizarre (pun not intended) style at first. The main problem is the game makes you want to treat it like Street Fighter but the logic of character movement is closer to Tekken. It’s an odd fusion not quite like anything else.

    If they ever port it to PC it might find new life once folks experience it at a better framerate.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos

Popular