Review: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD (PS3)

Title: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD
Format: PlayStation Network Download (650 MB)
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: T
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD is also available on Xbox 360.
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.

With a name like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD, you can expect an interesting ride. It was initially released in 1998 in arcades across Japan and North America, then moved to PlayStation and Dreamcast in 2000. It is based on a Japanese manga with the same title and was created by the same team who made Street Fighter III. All that being said, JoJo’s isn’t exactly a household name. It gets lost in time, overshadowed by Capcom’s fighting game giants. But sometimes we have to dig up some old gems, and nearly 14 years since its original release, JoJo’s is coming to modern day consoles with an HD brush and full trophy support.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD is unlike any game I’ve played before. It’s like a fighting that took LSD. No, trust me, that isn’t an overreaction. The title is pretty applicable to the game: bizarre. Each character has a semi-unique story, which is nice. But good luck following it. Characters breaking out of jail, cars coming out of the ground and attacking people, humans that are actually birds. I just don’t know where to start with this game.

Luckily, the fighting system isn’t too bizarre. It is your usual Capcom fare, but with a fun twist. JoJo’s uses a system called “Stand,” which is similar to Persona 4 Arena’s Persona system, despite being released more than a decade beforehand. Most characters have a person or an object they can call upon to help in the fight. Sometimes they take form during moves, other times the “Stands” work as puppets while your character stands behind. But just like in P4A, the other player can cause a “Stand crash” and leave you to fight on your own. This adds a nice level of strategy to the game and helps it stand out in the genre. But let’s be honest, JoJo’s doesn’t need much help with standing out.

There are some balancing issues. This might not have been a problem in the 90’s, before patches were around, but some characters are very much stronger than others. It can get frustrating, especially when your opponent knows these over-powered characters. And the computer likes to abuse the system as well. It eventually got to the point where I had to move to some of the higher tier characters in order to stand a chance. It’s a shame I couldn’t use half the cast because “they weren’t good enough.”

Each of the 22 characters are unique and pretty fun to mess around with. Just doing each character’s special move is almost like doing a fatality in Mortal Kombat, because you want to see what it looks like. The strategy you need to bring differs from character to character, so it is important to try and get one character’s style down before moving on to the next.

JoJo’s will kick your butt. It’s mean. So mean! The computer can get very tough and the game doesn’t teach you much. The move lists are very basic, which leads to large sessions of trial and error before you can discover a combo worth something. Most fighting games are niche, but this game is ultra niche. Beginners be weary, JoJo’s is for the hardest of the hardcore.

JoJo’s high definition does its best to cover some textures and edges with the sprites, but this game is not pretty. Animations are still smooth, as you would hope in a fighting game, with detailed moves and specials that really make each character stand out. The characters are different, some good, some bad, and background can be just plain ugly. There seems to be a western theme there, obviously created by eastern developers, with a splash of purples and greens thrown in. The title resonates in the graphics as well: bizarre. For the most part, this game has not aged well at all in the graphics department.

The music is what you would expect from a late 90’s arcade. It’s nothing special but it’s not entirely bad. It is a trip back to an era where arcades mattered and life was a little simpler. I enjoyed it because it brought a bit of nostalgia back. There are no giant musical scores, but that isn’t what this game needs. While its music is unique (a little bizarre as well), it is able to perfectly describe the time period and setting.

The experience online was a downer. There are some nice options, including a replay system, lobby, and versus. But good luck finding a match with no lag. In an era where Skullgirls can run near flawlessly online, JoJo’s can barely keep going. It is very important in a game like this to have specific timing, and I just wasn’t getting it online. Plus, the community for it is near empty in America. The majority of my matches came against people in Japan, who were much more experienced than I with the game. And the lag grew worse when I faced somebody halfway across the planet. Overall, I wouldn’t buy JoJo’s for the online experience, unless the scene picks up over here.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD is a mixed bag. The amusing characters and solid mechanics make the game fun to play, if only in short bursts. Otherwise, JoJo’s has made  a poor transition to the 21st century. Unbalanced gameplay, high learning curve, and awful online really pull this game down. And with a price point above your usual PSN purchase, I can only recommend this game to the dedicated fighting fan or someone craving nostalgia. If you have any sort of hesitation, I’d hold back on JoJo’s. It’s just a little too bizarre.


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