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May 2024

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: CyberConnect2
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2022


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Xbox Series X Review - 'JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 19, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is a stylistic anime-based fighting game with a massive and memorable roster of characters.

Buy JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle for the PS3 was released in 2014. For fighting game fans still holding on to their system after the release of the PS4, the title favored fun over things like balance. For the fans of the manga at the time, it was a godsend because it was the first game in the West since the Capcom-produced title on the Dreamcast and subsequent HD release on Xbox 360 and PS3. Eyes of Heaven would release two years later, but those who weren't fond of the arena-style fighting system longed for CyberConnect 2 to return to this game's pseudo-3D style. After eight years that has seen the popularity of both the manga and anime rise to new heights, that has finally happened with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R, a title that isn't exactly new but has enough changes that it can be considered a director's cut of the original.

If you're familiar with CyberConnect 2's work on the Naruto series of fighting games, then what you'll experience here is wildly different. This is still a 3D fighter like the studio's other fighting games, but it plays more like a Tekken-style 3D fighter versus the arena style from the Naruto games and Eyes of Heaven. You have three general attack buttons that determine the strength of the attack versus whether it's a punch or a kick. You have a dodge button that lets you roll toward and away from the camera, and using it at the correct time creates a perfect dodge that immediately leaves your opponent open for an attack.

The Style button is the most versatile button in the game, as it functions differently depending on who you're playing as. Each of the five fighters falls into a specific category. Hamon users can hold down the button to charge up their special meter when they're not attacking. Mode users can give themselves stat boosts and a few new moves for a limited amount of time. Vampire characters unleash moves that return some life once they successfully connect with combos. Mount users bring horses to the battlefield and gain more damaging moves in exchange for more vulnerability. Finally, Stand characters will be more familiar to those who have played the old Capcom title; they appear in front of fighters and give them a new set of basic moves.

The stages can also be useful in a fight, as each one contains hotspots that trigger when players land on them hard. Once active, the traps take a few seconds before they trigger. Some of them, like a falling chandelier, only occur once per round, while others occur frequently after the trigger is activated. The traps all contain visible spots and paths, so players aren't surprised, but they're also indiscriminate in affecting anyone in their path. The stages contain spots that trigger KOs similar to fatalities. Hitting a super move to knock the opponent into certain areas creates special endings that re-create scenes from the manga, so that's a nice touch for fans.

Compared to the original game, there are a few changes that work well. The first is the ability to use a light attack button to eventually work your way up to unleashing a solid combo, much like you could do in the Naruto games. You can still employ more traditional fighting game philosophies, like working your way up the strength buttons and using directional movements in tandem to unleash much better combos, but this mechanic gives newcomers a chance to hold their own. Another change mimics the likes of Marvel vs. Capcom, as you can select another character to deliver an assist attack to extend your combo, stop an opponent's combo, or retaliate for getting knocked down. The roster is composed of 51 characters across the eight story arcs, with more coming soon via DLC, so having them come in as helpers versus full-on fighters feels like a nice way to use them without changing the one-on-one nature of the original.

The changes make this fighting game feel more fleshed out than its original incarnation. Combine that with characters that show off a ton of personality or are odd to see, such as a fighting bulldog, and you have something that keeps you glued like any good fighting game should. It has all of the ridiculous flair the series is known for, from the kanji spelling out sound effects to over-the-top poses. There are still some prior issues that have never been addressed. The jumping reaches great heights, but the normal walking speed is still sluggish. You need to be dashing at all times to cover any distance. The Taunt function is still there and useful, since it affects your opponent's special move meter, but the game doesn't inform you that it is activated via the View button. The game tells you if you're playing on the PC version, though.

While the number of modes hasn't increased compared to the original game, they've been fine-tuned enough that you'll find them to be much better to play through. No matter which mode you play, you'll always be rewarded with gold, which unlocks almost everything in the game. Some of the stuff is related to the museum, where you can see 2D and 3D artwork and listen to the soundtrack. The more interesting stuff to unlock are the medals which unlock different colorways for the characters, poses and taunts, and even costumes. There's quite a bit of grind due to the roster size alone, but at least the aesthetics you unlock are appealing enough that you won't mind too much.

Training mode is rather useful considering the game's very sizable roster size, and the combinations of fighter and assists make it so that you want a safe space to figure out all of the combinations. Versus mode is split into three sub-modes. Alongside the standard one-on-one battle is a team mode that pits teams of three against one another much like The King of Fighters does, complete with slight health refills between matches. You also have a tournament mode, which has eight people going after one another until a winner is declared. Arcade mode is perhaps the more traditional of the single-player modes, as you choose a fighter to go through eight other opponents.

If you're familiar with the original game, then you'll be surprised to see that both the Story and Campaign modes are absent. Instead, you have All-Star mode, which feels like a combination of the best of those two modes. You're given over 100 manga panels to select from throughout all eight story arcs. Some of those fights are canon, while others are more like "what if" situations. Each fight is given a difficulty rating, and completing them gets you one step closer to unlocking the boss fight for that section. Completing these fights also nets you gold, along with other character customization pieces that can't be unlocked in the shop. What's different is that most fights come with some sort of stipulation, such as the opponent having a higher defense than normal or you being unable to get the energy needed for your ultra move. If you're trying to use the game as a way to understand each story more, then you'll be sorely disappointed; each fight is presented without much context. If you're familiar with the story arcs, then you'll get a bigger kick out of the matchups from the pre- and post-fight dialogue.

Of all of the modes, the online play can come off as disappointing. The game features the usual player and ranked matches, but the Xbox version doesn't seem to have the bonus weekly quests that the PC version does. Due to a lack of cross-play, finding opponents is much more difficult on the Xbox. What will irk players more is the fact that there's no rollback netcode and no immediate plans to implement it. If you get into a match, performance can either be perfect or have enough detectable lag that your inputs are either not registered or doubled. It is still playable, but if you aren't trying to play casually, you'll hate that this is one area that didn't get touched up.

The graphics from the PS3 version did a great job in capturing the manga's striking look, and the Xbox Series X version builds upon that solid base. The stark lines and black shading, coupled with the signature looks of the characters, leaves no doubt that this is a faithful translation of the manga. The environments also match, so they don't clash with the fighters. The amount of things happening on-screen at the same time remains astonishing, but the aim for a solid 60fps throughout shows that this was a massive improvement over the original instead of a quick resolution bump.

The audio sound is also a highlight. There's a good mix of classic rock-style music mixed with something more dramatic and anime-sounding. The sound effects hit hard, and the voice work is near-perfect. Those who have surround sound systems will appreciate each fight; you have people constantly talking in the speakers around you, giving most of the arenas a more lifelike feel with the spectators. It is something that enhances the presentation and would be nice to see implemented in other fighting titles.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is a much better experience compared to the original title. The modes feel more tightly put together, the character roster has been expanded greatly, and the fighting feels more involved, making the experience much more fun than in the 2016 offering. Unless you're primarily an online player, this is well worth checking out.

Score: 8.0/10

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