JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure — JJBA — is another one of those fighters that I heard about in the late 90s, but never played. It always seemed interesting, but, for whatever reason I never made time for it (could have had something to do with not having a PlayStation or Dreamcast at the time!). When I heard Capcom was HDifying it for downloadable release, I was pretty excited, figuring this was going to be the most complete and ultimately ‘best’ version to date. Alas, having spent some time playing and reading about the release, that turns out to not be the case, but that doesn’t mean the release is without value.
This HD Version might not get everything right, but it’s good to see, generally speaking. This is a solid fighter that, at least in this neck of the woods, is a rare find on PSX or DC. The inclusion of online play is obvious and welcomed, and also well done. I haven’t experienced any major hiccups, although that hasn’t helped me net many wins. In addition to my fighting game skills being pretty tepid, this is a niche game, and those online are pretty serious about it. The leaderboards are dominated by Japanese based folks, quite possibly fans of the JoJo mangas. As with some other Capcom fighters that include online multiplayer, players earn points that go towards their overall ranking. You can also filter fight requests so they don’t interrupt your single player campaign and you can set restrictions on network speed and rank, too. Eight player battles can be setup as well, with spectator support, although I didn’t test this. Replays can be saved and shared too.
Graphically, JJBA is functional, but disappointing. Character graphics — those that you will focus on the most by far — come off as way too soft and smoothed over; they look muddled. Fortunately, there is an option to revert to what’s known as the Arcade SD Mode which, as a retro gamer who doesn’t mind less-than-modern graphics, turned out to be the preferred choice. And while the character graphics were a letdown, the backgrounds and framerates were colorful and smooth. I also thought the ‘sidebars,’ creating the 4:3 image, showed some good effort and were interesting. Instead of just the game’s logo, you get a nice still image of the characters in battle.
As far as gameplay goes, the Stand system sets JJBA apart from most every fighter I have played. With it, players are able to instantly call upon their respective secondary characters that have a different set of moves and can be used to trap opponents to where both the original character and their Stand are inflicting damage. The Stands are another significant creative component of JJBA, but far more than just eye-candy, the Stands have a very strategic role as well.
Turns out the HD Version does not include some of the key modes seen in the PSX version, as this isn’t based on the PSX version. Those alternate modes may not be important to you, depending on if you plan to play competitively more so than single player, though. Still, given Capcom’s history of DLC and re-releases (especially of fighters), consumers may cringe at the thought of a JJBA Ultimate Edition with more content to buy down the road. I think that’s doubtful, but given the $20 price to begin with, you might think twice.
With that, let’s get to the summary…