JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Review — So Bizarre

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R should please fans of the anime and manga series with its stylized graphics, huge roster, and outrageous fighting action.

We’re not sure if the R stands for “returns,” “retreads,” “rebounds,” or what, but JoJo is definitely back with this update of the PS3 fighter. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is exactly the sort of fan service we’ve come to expect when anime-based games fall into our virtual laps. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though it probably limits the audience for a fighting game that, on the whole, has a fair amount to offer.

All-Star Battle R is admittedly catering to two inter-related audiences: fans of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and those of one-on-one fighting games. It starts off strong with a super-sized character roster of 50 distinct fighters from the show, so the odds are good if you had a favorite they’re in here. The three-button fighting system is easy enough to get right into (with light, medium, and strong attacks) and special moves feel familiar to pull off.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Review — So Bizarre 

This is JoJo, however, which means a lot of eccentricities. If you’ve never seen the show, explaining the bonkers plot would take up too much space. Suffice it to say, each character has special powers (usually called Stands or Hamon) that are a bit like having a secondary entity fighting with and for you. You aren’t controlling two characters, and there’s no team-up action here, but the action lets you choose to use your Stand openly or just for special moves alternatively.

There’s a lot going on during any given match, both in terms of the actual fighting action and the landscape. Comic catchphrases pop up with illustrated panels, and characters interact in the background with short comic and cinematic sequences that can suddenly lead to hazards knocking both combatants flat. If you’re a fan already, all these extra bits will be immediately recognizable, but others are likely to be perplexed at best.

Anime and manga-stylings infuse JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure on every level. From the menu systems on, it's full of little touches and nods to the source material. Whether it’s the in-match dialogue or the characters who guide you through all the gallery extras and character customization options, there’s always some dash of style on screen.

That style is most apparent in the character design. Simply put, All-Star Battle R looks like an anime with its distinctive cell-shaded, highly animated characters and backdrops. For better or worse, it nails the at-times truly outlandish and questionable movement rhythms of its characters. So, the fighters move just like they do in the show.   

One could probably write a master’s thesis analyzing the subtexts and undertones of the character designs in JoJo, but we won’t. In short, this ain’t Tekken or Virtua Fighter. Its distinction of being a massive fighter where the men are vastly more over-sexualized than the women fighters (who seem positively tame in comparison) is appreciated, though.

With its focus on cinematic fighting, the super moves are especially noteworthy. After charging up, each character has a specific supernatural combo that deals massive damage. The effect is vividly illustrated in brief, exciting sequences that show off just how good All-Star Battle R looks. That said, more move variety per character and more special move variety in general between the fighters would have been appreciated. There’s a fair amount of overlap in similar specials among the 50 combatants.

Despite that huge roster (or maybe because of it), modes are pretty light in All-Star Battle R. The arcade mode, for instance, is a straight run-through of eight random opponents and doesn’t attempt to fashion a narrative thread. There’s no boss, no end scenes, no credits, or anything. Practice, versus, and online modes are also included, and online play works well overall.

The All-Star Battle Mode takes the place of a story or campaign mode, but it’s really just a collection of the “greatest” moments from the series adapted to one-on-one fighting. Taking plot bits from the source as an excuse to create a match (often with specific constraints or requirements), each battle is ranked at a set difficulty level. Progressing unlocks various character customization items to change up the look of your fighter or more content in the gallery. 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Review — The Bottom Line 

Pros

  • Fifty different and weird fighters, including a small dog.
  • Bright, bold cinematically-styled graphics with tons of fan service.
  • Fun, easy-to-get-into fighting action.

Cons

  • A bit light modes; no real campaign or cohesive story mode.
  • Some repetition in the special moves.
  • Plenty of cringe-inducing character designs and animation ripped straight from the anime.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R offers plenty of characters and fun fighting action, but it's clearly aimed at fans of the anime. It’s a decent fighter all around, but there’s not quite enough depth and variety in the modes to give it the boost it needs to move beyond its "based on an anime" niche.

[Note: Bandai Namco provided the copy of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R used for this review.]

Our Rating
7
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R should please fans of the anime and manga series with its stylized graphics, huge roster, and outrageous fighting action.
Reviewed On: Series X

Contributor

Jason D'Aprile has been writing about games and technology for a very long time. His bylines have appeared on and in countless sites and magazines over the years, including Paste Magazine, Playboy, G4TV, Indie Game Website, UploadVR, Techhive, Lifewire, the Brick Moon Fiction podcast, United Front Gaming, and others he's mostly forgotten about. Jason lives in a house in the woods and does not twit.

Published Sep. 9th 2022

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