[BLOG] Review: JoJo's Bizare Adventure: All Star Battle

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[BLOG] Review: JoJo's Bizare Adventure: All Star Battle

Postby Shaderrow » Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:30 pm

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(Had to post this manually seeing as the plug-in that ties together the forums and the main page is a bit borked right now)

The utterly demented Universe of of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has been a constatn in manga and anime for nearly 25 years now. A twisted mash-up of Western glam-rock and Eastern anime eccentricities, it follows the story of the Joestar bloodline through various eras as each generation fights all manner of evil incarnate. It's a rich property and one that is perfectly suited to adapt into a fighting game.While All Star Battle is a stunningly faithful reincarnation of the source material, it's a very poor experience when you start judging purely on its merits as fighting game.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features perhaps some of the most flamboyant, strange and eccentric characters to be found in all of manga and All Star Battle does a commendable job at showcasing its fighters. But as soon as you get down to brass tax it is immediately apparent that the actual building blocks of the system are under-developed, sluggish and unresponsive at their best. Even the most basic of actions: moving around the arena feels annoyingly slow and removed from the action. Quite a few fighting games use a slower pace to both ratchet up the tension and force players to make their actions count , but in All Star Battle its more a source of frustration than tension.

The fighting system revolves around the tried and true system of having three main attacks: weak, medium and strong, all three of which need to linked together to create combos. Combos themselves can be finished off with a number of special moves which are performed via circular inputs that you'll be intimately familiar with if you've ever played a round or two of Street Fighter.

While it does it is pretty run-of-the-mill in its core components, All Star Battle does distinguish itself with a few mechanics, some more welcome than others. Each character has an auto combo available that can be performed by simply spamming the light attack button, the result is a powerful attack chain that ends in a super move provided you have enough energy in reserve. This is certainly helpful to inexperienced players, but it soon devolves into the game's cheapest and overpowered tactic. While the game seems like it takes place within a 2D realm there is a dodge button that allows characters to step into the foreground or background to avoid attacks, but apart from that it is still very much a 2D fighter.

The central mechanic though, takes the form of the style button. Each character's style has a different function depending upon their stance. Characters who utilize the Stand style for instance, summon powerful spirits to take over for them in battle. Hamon fighters on the other hand perform powered up versions of standard attacks, while vampiric and mounted characters cycle between entirely different command lists when the style button is used. The system provides some welcome variety between characters, but the fighting system as a whole feels pretty lacking and shallow overall.

This problem is even further exacerbated by the absence of any meaningful tutorials or game modes designed to introduce players to the nuances of combat. The game expects you to get to grips with the entire system through a series of short tool tips in each character's command list, but in addition to being poorly translated these are woefully inadequate for the job they're expected to perform. For example: a few characters have unique attacks that can be performed from a stand rush. How exactly to perform a stand rush is never explained in the moves list, controller layout or anywhere else in the game, leaving you to look outside the game to even get familiar with basic functionality.

For most characters the move-list feels very constrained, with minimal room for on the fly improvisation in the middle of a match. All Star Battle is very much a game where the memorization of your character's move list is going to be key in competitive play. Speaking of which, the game's 30fps framerate kills any hope of this featuring on the competitive circuit as it simply doesn't allow for the type of reaction time and speed that make fighting games the sport that they are.

You can sort of forgive the poor performance though as the game looks absolutely stunning. All Star Battle boasts one of the best cel-shaded aesthetics I've seen in a game yet. Characters, animations and environments are all exquisitely well detailed and gorgeous to in motion. What's more is that the voice cast does an exceptional job bringing extra personality to the characters and the soundtrack is exactly what is needed to round out the visual splendour and sheer flamboyance of the whole ordeal.

If you're looking into buying the game as way to get up to speed on the sheer mind numbing insanity that is the story of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, you're better off looking elsewhere. The game does a massive disservice to the story, regulating any and all plot to simple text logs before matches in the story mode. This is a big let down especially considering that CyberConncect2 is the studio that brought us Asura's Wrath and quite a few Naruto titles, all of which boasted incredibly well done cutscences throughout.

While the narrative aspect may as well be absent entirely, the story mode does do a few interesting things with the fighting as match has special conditions attributed to it such as automatically regenerating health or certain moves being unusable during play. These can be completely avoided though, by way of spending an in game currency that you earn through playing matches.

There is also a Campaign mode on where you start out with 10 blocks of energy, one of which depletes every time you search for a new opponent. Defeating opponents grants you new customisation but these are sadly regulated only to taunts and victory poses. In theory you can expend all your energy, leaving you without any means to fight further, however the game goes out of its way to ensure you always have an ample supply at the ready. The entire energy system is only in place to be monetised with the player able to spend real money in exchange for more energy.It's not onlt a distasteful implementation of microtransactions, but a broken one at that.

The are some online components present, but only the bare essentials that you would expect. Online matches support two players and matches perform well enough under optimal conditions but anything below that renders an instantly noticeable degree of lag that harms the entire experience.

Ultimately All Star Battle stands as an exceptional adaptation of the characters of JoJo's Bizarre adventure, capturing the spirit and eccentricities that makes them so unique perfectly. As a fighting game though, I cannot recommend it at all. There are simply to many other stellar competitive fighting games out there to bother throwing All Star Battle more than a curious glance.

Score: 5.5/10

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