In a post-Dragon Ball FighterZ world, there is a lot of hope for a jump in quality for anime games, particularly fighting games. Games are often great supplements to the source material and allow for more interaction with particular characters and settings. Few franchises are perfect for a new fighting game in today’s market than JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R, a legendary story that is amazingly a little of everything while retaining its signature style. Rather than create a brand-new title, a fan-favorite release was revamped for the modern player base, and while there’s a lot to love in this release, there are areas that need improvement for the game’s longevity. For returning fans, All-Star Battle R expands the roster, performs at a smooth 60 fps, and adds new layers to the combat.
Game Name: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R Platforms: PC, Xbox One (Reviewed), Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: CyberConnect2 Release Date: September 1st, 2022
For those unaware, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an anime that has inspired countless tributes and has influenced lots of creations since its initial manga release in 1987, with the anime adaptation pushing the work even further into pop culture through outlandish scenarios, meme-worthy moments, and original storytelling. The show encompasses everything from a murder mystery to an English drama to a globe-trotting chase to a horse race set in various time periods, mostly framed through the Joestar family line. Eventually, the show’s world kind of resets in Part 7: Steel Ball Run but stays in the style of a JoJo. Through its tone and visual language, there is something for everyone in the JoJo story. For anime viewers, though, we are only now getting Part 6: Stone Ocean on Netflix, with the last episodes of the season coming in the future.
It’s a mature, often crass story full of ridiculous logic showdowns and absolutely wild character designs, but there is nothing in anime quite like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
All-Star Battle R is a celebration of the entire JoJo franchise up to Part 8: JoJolion, but there’s not much worry for those afraid of spoiling the show as most of these characters are presented without much context, though they are represented fantastically. Anyone hoping to learn more about JoJo’s might walk away pretty confused after playing a few rounds of this game, but there’s a lot of fun in discovering the wacky moves of each character. I’ve only watched the anime, so discovering that Diego Brando turns into a dinosaur was an unforgettable, laugh-out-loud moment. Facing down a violent hawk named Pet Shop that summons ice and taunts with an intense stare is also hilarious to me. There’s a massive roster of 50 characters, with more coming via DLC, so there’s a lot to take in.
Each character feels unique enough to play with special moves and unique style buttons. At its core, this is a six-button fighter with weak, medium, and strong attack buttons and dodge, assist, and style buttons. Style usually coincides with a character’s power type, such as a Stand (summons a powerful entity, and adds new moves) or Hamon (a type of ki energy), as examples. By far, the most amusing style type is Mounted, which has characters fighting on horseback and jumping off for extended combos and scenarios.
There’s an amusing absurdity to All-Star Battle R’s matches that is something really only capable in the world of JoJo.
The combat is familiar stuff for the fighting game genre with auto-combos, special move cancels, and super attacks (called Heart Heat Attacks and Great Heat Attacks), resulting in flashy, exciting bouts. Baked into the game’s battles is a useful taunt that can lower an opponent’s meter if used after a knockdown, an interesting twist. Stage gimmicks also pose a threat, triggering after a knockdown in a specific area. These moments refer to moments in the anime and can be used to open up foes or add damage during a combo. Or, if you’re not a fan of stage gimmicks or assists, both can be disabled.
The dodge and 3D nature of the stages add depth similar to Tekken, but primarily the game feels like Street Fighter 4, where meter management and link combos reign supreme. In fact, the overall art direction is comparable to Street Fighter 4, with stages and characters looking fantastic.
The core combat in All-Star Battle R is what will keep the game alive for years to come, and it already seems like a popular game in the fighting game community. It’s a lot of fun to work through the roster and discover how moves can chain into each other. Adding in the new assist feature creates awesome strings that feel great to pull off. Unfortunately, until there’s an update to the game’s netcode, much of this positive energy will only be found in local play.
I wasn’t able to get into an online match on Xbox One (ranked or casual), and it’s something that a lot of players on social media have reported having trouble with. Unfortunately, if a fighting game doesn’t have rollback netcode (the industry’s best online connection method so far), it feels like a huge shame. People seem to be playing All-Star Battle R okay on Steam and PlayStation, but it’s still not rollback, leaving it behind with the times. Hopefully, this will be addressed in a future patch. Regardless, I think that All-Star Battle R will make for a really fun local tournament game.
This game would’ve been such a phenomenal title with rollback.
Where not having rollback stings the most is the lack of other meaningful modes to play. There’s a challenge mode that’s fun and an arcade mode, but even those don’t have story cutscenes or character stories. All of the game types are function over depth. There are costumes to unlock, as well as artwork, music, and character models, but not much beyond that. I was excited to jump into matches, but everything outside that felt like busy work with little reward. The game’s menus often get bogged down with characters popping into spout lines, covering up sections, and slowing down how long it takes to change modes.
Really, the joy of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is in the characters and playing with friends. The move lists are fun to explore, the combos are satisfying, and the characters are perfectly represented with original Japanese voice actors. It would’ve been even better if the English cast could’ve joined as well. The music is good, and the stages look fantastic with beautiful color palettes. Super moves look awesome, and the mechanical depth is certainly there.
I definitely foresee myself playing this game more, but I really hope that post-launch content makes up for its current state.
Expanding the modes, adding new characters, more customization options, and improved netcode would do wonders for All-Star Battle R. As it stands, this game is still a love letter to JoJo and worth picking up for fans of the franchise or anyone with fighting game chops looking to branch out.
Solid combat system with layers to discover
Exceptional fan service with a huge roster
Genuinely a stronger game than the previous version