JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is starting to become a mainstream hit. The 30-year old manga/anime series has struggled to find its footing in the past, but now is an anime powerhouse. From its humble beginnings with the series first part Phantom Blood, to the ever growing Part 8: JoJolion, this bizarre Shounen series shows no signs of stopping. Over the years, the series has seen a number of video games, most of them being exclusive to Japan. Of course, most of these have been fighting games.
Two of the most prominent JoJo games is 1999’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Heritage for the Future (or JoJo’s Venture), and 2013’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle. One is a cult classic, while the other is not talked about often. JoJo’s Venture to this day has many online tournaments held between community members. AllStar Battle meanwhile, is often overshadowed by 2015’s JoJo’s Eyes of Heaven. What is it that makes JoJo’s Venture so iconic, and All Star Battle forgettable?
JoJo’s Venture was a fighting game released first in 1998 and then re-released in 1999 by Capcom. The game is a 2D fighter, and has a few similarities to Street Fighter. The game has had two updates to it overall, but for the sake of this article, we’ll be referencing the 1999 release, as that is the most complete version of the game.
The full roster contains 16 characters, with two characters hidden off screen. In terms of series diversity, it’s pretty lacking. All of the characters in the game are from the series’ third part, Stardust Crusaders, with one technical exception. One of the hidden characters is the younger version of Joseph Joestar (referred to in-game as JoJo), who was the main character in Battle Tendency, the series’ second part. However, within the part that they used, we see a lot of very creative fighting game character archetypes that aren’t seen in most other fighters.
Of course, the game makes use of the series’ iconic Stands, which are physical manifestations of each individuals fighting spirits. For example, characters like Noriaki Kakyoin and Hol Horse can use their Stands to throw out attacks that while move slowly, are able to be controlled by the player. The most famous mechanic is the time-stop ability, used by the main protagonist Jotaro Kujo, and the main antagonist Dio. This ability freezes time, and time remains frozen until the meter for either runs out. This ability has lead to some legendary combos. Everyone is most likely familiar with Dio’s Road Roller Combo.
A big part of why JoJo’s Venture is as iconic as it is, is that it’s an interactive game. Every character is able to link powerful moves into each other. There’s even a mechanic in which the characters can move and attack separate from there Stands, which is called a Tandum. Even certain Supers can be guarded by the opponent. This requires you to plan things out before throwing out your Super. It truly is a game of wit and skill. The game has had, and continues to see tournaments held by fans of the game, and the series. For the longest time, there was never a real followup. Outside of two Japan exclusive PS2 titles, the series would go on a hiatus in the gaming industry.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle
It would be about 14 years (or 8 years if we aren’t talking about international releases) until the next mainline JoJo game. At this point in time, the series had just received its first anime adaptation since the 2003 OVAs of Stardust Crusaders. All Star Battle was developed by Bandai Namco and CyberConnect 2 as a 3D arena fighter, and released in 2013 shortly after the adaptation of Battle Tendency had ended. The game received a few updates, along with DLC characters.
The character pool is a lot larger than JoJo’s Venture’s, containing 33 characters, not including the 9 DLC fighters. The series diversity is far better then JoJo’s Venture, featuring characters from all 8 parts of JoJo. Fan favorites like Bruno Buccelati, William Zeppeli and Johnny Joestar are here and accounted for. Some characters from JoJo’s Venture, however, didn’t make the jump. Characters like Midler, Alessi and Mariah are not playable in the game (though Mariah is playable in Eyes of Heaven). Characters like Old Joseph Joestar, Vanilla Ice and Iggy are also missing, though return as DLC. The roster diversity is really one of the few things that this game has over JoJo’s Venture, however.
Some mechanical aspects of All Star Battle make it a huge downgrade from JoJo’s Venture.
The Frame Rate
The weirdest and the most crushing thing about this game is the fact that it’s locked at 30 frames per second. This is below what is standard for most fighting games at the time, and it’s unknown why the developers chose to do this. Given the art style chosen for this game, it could be inferred that this game from a visual standpoint wouldn’t look good at 60fps. This one change brought about a few problems that we will get to in a bit.
Are they really diverse?
As mentioned before, the roster contains characters from all parts of JoJo. One of the DLC characters is even the main character from series creator Hirohiko Arakis’ earlier works called Baoh. However, most of the characters fall into one of two archetypes: long-ranged fighters, or close combat fighters. In the game, each character is given one of three attributes: Hamon User, Stand User or Vamperism. Hamon Users can charge up their meter and Stand Users can summon there Stands. Vamperism doesn’t really have a unique mechanic tied to it. These three are suppose to be the big differing mechanics, but they really don’t do much in-game.
These mechanics are Muda Muda
Two of the threeaforementioned mechanics are fairly pointless. Hamon Users are able to charge their meter while holding down a button. This is good….until you realize that attacking does the job just as quickly. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is that some regular attacks are powered up a bit. Part 2’s Joseph Joestar is the only one who really benefits from this mechanic.
Vamperism is purely cosmetic…except it can’t even do that right. This is an attribute that is applied to Vampire-like characters like Dio Brando or Kars, and in the series these characters would be damaged or killed by sunlight or Hamon. However, in game Hamon Users see no added benefit when fighting Vampire characters, and these same characters can even fight in daytime stages.
The biggest issue with the game is the fact that many attacks come out very fast, have low endlag, and leave the opponents in massive hitstun. These moves are often spammed and rack up a huge amount of damage. This makes pulling off combos less impressive since it all can be supplemented with spamming.
All Star Battle isn’t a game that is talked about to much. Its biggest accomplishment was it being the first game to have characters from every part fully modeled in 3D. Otherwise, most of its spotlight was taken from it by Eyes of Heaven, which reused a lot of All Star Battles assets.
JoJo’s Venture is a game that is fondly remembered for a lot of reasons. The characters felt more dynamic and the game flow was fluid and felt natural. Everyone felt true to their manga and anime counterparts, and it’s a game that has a huge amount of replayability. All Star Battle, meanwhile, feels a bit empty at times. Sure, it’s a wonderful homage to its series of origin, but outside of online events and the story mode, the game lacks that same replayability.
Hopefully, there will be another JoJo fighter that takes what All Star Battle accomplished in its content department, while returning to the gameplay that made JoJo’s Venture such a beloved classic.
Featured image courtesy of Gematsu.
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