JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is everything one would expect from a video game adaptation of the whacky long-running manga. It's fervently hectic, exhilarating and just downright ridiculous, paying wonderful tribute to its source material. Unfortunately, as a fighting game, it's not all that impressive.
If you're a JoJo fan, then this game hits all the right notes. Developer CyberConnect2 does a fantastic job at taking a strongly loved universe and respectfully forging an experience the Joestars would be proud of. Not sure who they are? That's okay. While it's obvious All-Star Battle is meant for lovers of the series, the game can still be enjoyed even by someone with absolutely no background knowledge. With that said, if you so happen to fall into that demographic, the game's appeal is greatly lessened... okay, more like tremendously lessened.
It's difficult to judge a game where its faults also happen to be the reason it's a solid title. All-Star Battle is deeply intent on staying faithful to its origin, even at the cost of strong game mechanics. The comical behavior of its characters along with their unique skills call for an unbalanced experience, one that can be overlooked by fans of the series, but probably not fans of the genre.
For example, one fighter, Kira, has the ability to turn back time and negate any damage he received during that time. It's also almost impossible to block him, so it's a bit unfair. However, characters like Kira split our feelings toward the game because, in a way, their cheap abilities almost feel necessary, even when they're frustrating to deal with (though fun to exploit), because just like everything else in All-Star Battle, each characters move sets are devoted to the source material -- though this will once again divide the community.
Something possibly everyone could agree on, though, is that the Story mode needs a bit of work. It's not bad, just poorly thrown together, with nothing but some text provided before each fight during the loading screen to explain the story. The text is flavorless and does little to aid newbies to the series in what the heck is going on, but it at least dispenses enough information to allow someone to get the gist of it. But will that be enough? Probably not.
Diving straight into Story mode is arguably the best approach at getting a feel for the game, for two reasons: one, because it gives players a chance to fight with just about every character featured on the game's roster. And secondly, the game offers a Practice mode, but it's not as in-depth as ones offered in games like Injustice. Instead of leaving well educated on the characters they chose to train with, players will be left with gaps that either trial-and-error or the internet will need to fill. So if you're forced to figure the game out on your own, might as well knock to two birds with one stone.
Online play in All-Star Battle is another feature that lacks any real enthusiasm. The battles, when there's no lag, are bearable, but there's really no features offered -- such as a spectating option -- to keep things interesting. In fact, when looking at this game in its entirety strictly as a fighting title, there's really nothing interesting at all about it. It would appear CyberConnect2 focused all their efforts in maintaining the game's authenticity that everything else just sort of falls flat. The character designs are gorgeous and in general the game looks astounding, but when a match begins to drag because the characters move frustratingly sluggish, even the most diehard of JoJo fans will inevitably be disheartened.
The game does at least feature a healthy roster of unique characters ranging from the time controlling Dio to the paraplegic Johnny Joestar, who fights from horseback. It was impossible for us not to laugh the first time we landed a dropkick with the horse. Johnny can also fight unmounted, though his movements are limited; however, it can at times have its perks. For instance, it's harder to land a hit on someone who's restricted to the ground. And some of his attacks have a bit of range so he doesn't always need to be arms distance. Johnny is a great example of why All-Star Battle's roster is unparalleled to anything we've seen before in a fighting game.
+ Whacky, outrageous characters.
+ Highly energetic.
+ Devoted to authenticity...
- ...though this pulls focus away from mechanics, which could use some work.
- Lacks features.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle shines through its faults and is in no way a traditional fighting game. It's an adaptation done so well that it's hard to complain about its easily noticeable shortcomings... unless of course you couldn't care less about the manga, then it's a mediocre experience that doesn't match up to modern games in the genre. Although it's aesthetically pleasing to look at and the characters feature a wide array of abilities, it won't be long before this game starts to just get kind of boring. And the lack of any stand-out features surely doesn't help.
A review code was provided to Examiner by Bandai Namco. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle released on April 29, 2014 on PlayStation 3.