This is why I did not enjoy JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R

For the last two years, one of my most enduring gigs as a writer has been working with Crunchyroll and its various partners. I thought myself to be an anime fan prior to commencing, but in the short time since, it has become a true obsession. It’s one of the things that got me through some tough times, and I am endlessly grateful that I am able to engage in this entertainment medium for a living.

In September of 2020, I was tasked with constructing a beginner’s guide for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and my goodness, I was hardly prepared for what was to come. Hirohiko Araki’s seminal shounen series is one of those things you really don’t quite get until you suddenly do, from its exaggerated combat sequences to the courageous way it shuffles its cast and settings between arcs.

It’s one of a kind, and as soon as it hits its stride, it’s practically unputdownable.

With such a breadth of personalities at its disposal, a fighting game that pits the generational JoJos and their cohorts against each other makes perfect sense, and having finally completed part 5, I decided to reward myself by purchasing a copy of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R for the Nintendo Switch.

First released on the PlayStation 3 in 2013, All-Star Battle serves as a love letter to all things JoJo; faithfully recreating the flamboyant characters and their wild Stands with the original voice talent, presenting countless combinations of ‘what-if’ scenarios.

So many well-dressed assailants!

Though poor old Leone Abbacchio would have to sit this one out — lest fights be temporarily suspended as Moody Blues goes about its business by recreating a prior crime scene — there is an absolute embarrassment of combatants at your disposal, surpassing 50 in total.

Want to impress people with your buff physique and dubious English skills? Joseph Joestar is at the ready. Keen to cruelly toy with overmatched foes left stumbling in confusion? Diavolo is your guy. More interested in just picking some shit up off the ground? Shigechi Yangu has gotchu, you crazy diamond.

It’s not the first JoJo fighting game and it likely will not be the last, but it is perhaps the most, offering a little bit of something for even those with a passing interest in the franchise.

I’m not necessarily a fighting game buff myself, however this felt like it would prove a satisfying purchase for me. Unfortunately, it’s a little more niche a title than your Zeldas or your Pokemonses, and so I was obligated to order the game online.

Despite the frequency in which I shop online, it’s something I prefer to avoid when possible. Items have gotten scuffed about while in transit, or manufacturing flaws have gone unnoticed until I held the product in my hand. Worst of all, I buy something to have now, and yet I must wait until the dreaded period known as later.

As the old proverb goes, beggars can’t be choosers. As such, this grizzly beggar would have to hold out for just a bit longer, only serving to heighten my anticipation for the thrilling skirmishes that laid on the horizon.

Startrack Crusaders

I was at something of an impasse during this period, keen to refer to video guides that would expedite the learning process while still wanting to go in as fresh and unspoilt as possible. As stated, I am decidedly subpar on the fighting game front, so I would need all the assistance I could find.

I had visions of coolly disposing of rivals with the stoic indifference of a Jotaro Kujo or Bruno Bucciarati. Maybe this would be the game that could break my streak of brawling mediocrity, launching a lucrative career as an e-sports stalwart? The more I pondered on the sheer possibilities, the more I was convinced that this game would become a fast favourite.

Then, the day came when the delivery arrived, at long last. To my utmost dread, what I ended up with was unlike anything I had expected.

The visuals are suitably bright and colourful, yet their animations are stiff and lifeless. The art design in no way resembles Araki’s distinct style, and many of the characters are downright unrecognisable. I spent a frustrating amount of time waiting for pointless cutscenes to play out before I could even get into the core game itself, and once I did, the quality took an even greater nose dive.

I thought I was supposed to be staging epic battles between legendary warriors, and instead, I found myself bumbling about obstacle courses as an anonymous dog that I can only assume was intended to represent Iggy.

Next, I was whisked away to an arena where a concert was taking place, populated by multicoloured shapes in the crowd that bobbed up and down in anticipation. The crudely rendered blonde girl onstage (Mariah? Suzi Q? Giorno Giovanna?!) contorted into uncomfortable shapes as a mundane timing based challenge whizzed past the screen.

Ugh, it looks so good in still images

Stands were nowhere to be seen. Hamon was shockingly absent, as well. I didn’t even get some goddamn exposition from Speedwagon, and that may have been the biggest crime of all. It really goes to show that you have to take critic’s opinions with a grain of salt, to spare yourself the heartbreak.

In IGN’s review, it was said that, “trying out each fighter is a joy and exploring the existing lovingly crafted fighting styles with the newly added assist move synergies brings more complexities to combat than possible in the original”.

Having not played the PS3 original, I can’t say with certainty how much more complex the combat has become, but if it was less robust than what I experienced, it boggles my mind that anyone saw fit to remaster it at all.

Meanwhile, CGMagazine declared that “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R is a solid port of a great licensed game that goes beyond a simple remaster and should not be missed if you’re a fan of the long-running franchise”.

As someone who considers themselves an avid fan of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, this feels like a personal affront. Am I supposed to be so beholden to the license that I cannot even question the distinct lack of relevance on display?

Frankly, I should have known I was in for disappointment the moment I opened the package. For reasons that I simply cannot fathom, they elected to put the worst JoJo on the cover, perhaps serving as a harbinger of the trite, uninspired slog that is yet to come.

I prefer the surly JoJo protagonists

Thank you, EB Games, for swiftly and carefully delivering my order. It is yet another indication of the kind of quality service I expect from this business, and I am ever so grateful to have procured my copy of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R JoJo Siwa: Worldwide Party.

Yes, this is legitimately what I received in the mail. Because if you’re going to fuck up, you may as well fuck up spectacularly. And this, my friends, was a fuck up so unfathomable, it would make even the most devout Siwanator blush.

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