FEATURE: "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver." Review

Capcom's classic CPS3 fighter looks better than ever, but is it WRYYYYY-ly worth your cash?

Speaking plainly, this is one of the best possible times to be a fan of fighting games. Even with the occasional miss, there's a lot for fight fans, from super-hardcore niche titles to newbie-friendly games that also provide an excellent competitive experience. FAQs, walkthroughs, frame data, combo videos and tutorials are all easily available online, and online capabilities allow people to test their skills against a live opponent any time. Probably the best modern feature comes from digital distribution, which gives players a chance to check out classic titles they may have missed in the arcade or on older systems.

 

In 1998--hot off the heels of Street Fighter III--Capcom released a fighting game based off of Hirohiko Araki's legendary manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Featuring a varied cast of characters from Part 3 of the manga, it was a fast and brutal fighting game that required strong space control and use of one-frame link combos. The game was also unexpectedly faithful to the series--a fight in the game worked out like a fight in the series, with each character's unique "Stand" ability being reflected in their playstyle. When home versions of the game were put out, the Dreamcast got a near arcade-perfect port, while the PS1 got a graphically-gimped version that more than made up for it with a bevy of added content.

 

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Yes, you can get an Achievement/Trophy for reenacting this scene. ORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORA

 

Probably riding the wave of excitement for the upcoming anime adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Capcom has put out an HD re-release of the 1998 fighter, available for download on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. The HD-upgraded graphics use a cool pencil-shading look when they're smoothed, but look better with chunky, beautifully-animated pixels. It's funny how this game has better, cleaner animation than Persona 4 Arena or BlazBlue, and it came out 14 years ago. While it does a few things right, this re-release honestly left me feeling very disappointed--it's hardly the definitive version of the game.

 

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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has the standard set of modes for a fighting game: Arcade Mode, local and online Versus, a Replay Mode (where you can view your hitbox data like Skullgirls), and a bare-bones Training Mode. Arcade Mode is probably the highlight of the game, letting you play through major events and battles of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 3: Stardust Crusaders, with a few unexpected twists like a side-scrolling brawler level against the water-controlling N'doul and a ridiculous, almost RPG-level cheap boss fight against Dio's henchman Iced.

 

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Technique-wise, the game plays admirably. It's fun and somewhat competitive, and has an interesting and varied cast that will be immediately recognizable to JoJo fans. As I mentioned earlier, each character's playstyle faithfully adapts their fighting style from the manga--Jotaro is linearly aggressive, Avdol hangs back and relies on walls of flame, and Alessy turns his opponents into children, then attacks his now-defenseless foes with an axe and submachine gun. Unfortunately, the well-developed and stylized combat is limited to the main cast--all the extra characters are palette swaps or limited in terms of moves and overall design. There are also a few standard characters who serve little purpose beyond novelty, like the near-impossible-to-control Stand-wielding hawk Petshop.

 

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Online, the game handles well. Now, I've mentioned before that I play almost every fighting game on the 360 for its stronger online, and JoJo doesn't disappoint--almost every Ranked match I've played was against players in Japan (all of whom I lost to--I win about half the time with US players), with absolutely no lag or sudden disconnects. Reports from PS3-playing friends sound about the same, so players on both sides of the HD fence can enjoy the game with their far-stronger counterparts in Japan.

 

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But even with these basic modes handled as well as they are, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver. still feels lacking. For its $20 price tag, you'd expect a more full-featured game. The graphically-limited PS1 version of the game included "Super Story Mode," which took players through the entire story of Part 3: Stardust Crusaders with cutscenes, QTEs, and tons of dialogue between actual in-game fights, leaving the (admittedly still cool) Arcade Mode in the dust. The PS1 version also included an unlockable gallery full of promotional art for the game as well as art from original author Hirohiko Araki. Neither of these features--which would have greatly extended the life and replayability of the game--are in HD Ver.

 

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You also get an Achievement/Trophy for reenacting this scene. MUDA DA

 

So really, you're left with a choice--how much do you love JoJo's Bizarre Adventure? If you've never tried this game, it'll only be worth it if you're as big a JoJo fan as I am. The price tag is fine for a downloadable classic, but doesn't deliver for the extra that you're paying--you get a bare-bones HD upgrade of an already bare-bones port. While the game itself is fun, it's far from the best that its generation had to offer. Your money is better spent on Garou: Mark of the Wolves ($10), Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition ($15), or Marvel vs. Capcom 2 ($15), all of which are cheaper--and better--than JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver. If you're curious, I suggest you wait for a sale.

 

REVIEW ROUNDUP

+ Incredibly beautiful graphics with a decent HD filter that capture the spirit of the manga

+ Large cast of characters with manga-faithful combat and style

+ Solid online across both platforms, even playing overseas opponents

- Extremely bare-bones in terms of gameplay modes and extra content

- "Super Story Mode" and Art Gallery--two of the best parts of the home versions--are nowhere to be found

- While the game has a large cast, many are uninteresting palette swaps or just plain unplayable

- High price (for a downloadable title) leaves you expecting more than what you're getting

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