JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD Ver.|
It’s somewhat surprising to see Capcom release an HD upgrade of one its lesser known fighters, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The Darkstalkers series probably has a larger fanbase, and has yet to see such treatment. This puzzle is easily solved when taking into account the $20 price tag and the minimal upgrades the 14-year-old title has received. Capcom is looking for a quick cash grab. Sure the game works, but it’s disappointing to see how little effort was put into the re-release of this bizarre fighter.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is based on a long-running Japanese manga series that began in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1987. The game specifically follows the series’ third story arc, in which Jotaro Joestar and company track down a vampire named Dio Brando. The characters fight with some interesting powers referred to as “stands.” These stands consist of some sort of powerful energy the user can conjure from within. Most of the time, stands appear in front of the fighter and tend to bear a resemblance to the stand wielder. They can be very powerful but because stands are projections from the user, any damage inflicted on them will actually transfer back to the user. In some cases, stands take the form of a weapon the fighter carries. Regardless of the type of stand, the majority of most fights take place as clashes between the stands.
Because of its source material, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has a very interesting look. The graphics are somewhat surrealistic and the color scheme has a pastel tone overall. For an HD upgrade, they are somewhat disappointing. Capcom merely placed a filter over the sprites and backgrounds that smooths the pixels and adds a sort of shading effect. Some players may find it looks too smooth, though I found in time I really liked the effect the shading added to the overall feel. The game still looks decent with or without the filter, but this filter is only a minor overhaul. There’s also a new dynamic HUD option that will zoom in and out of the action as necessary. It’s mostly cosmetic, though it does make the battles feel a little more intense.
In addition to an interesting visual style, being based on an existing manga means the game has a much more intricate story behind it than most fighting games do. The story was emphasized through a “Super Story Mode” in the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions of this game, but unfortunately this mode is absent in the recent HD version. Super Story Mode was one of the most unique features out of any fighting game. Players would control several of the hero characters and proceed through the story from the manga. In addition to standard fighting stages, this mode was packed full of mini games. It’s true, many of the mini games may not have aged well, but when JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure hit the PlayStation in 1999, mini games were fairly uncommon. There were some levels where players fought boss characters whose unique stands made them unbalanced for regular versus battles.
Other stages turned the game into a side-scrolling shooter, or a dangerous game of cards. Even the quick-time events were an interesting method to supplement the storytelling. Players would be awarded a letter-grade and points based on how well they performed. They could earn special bonuses based on conditions like using a lot of throws, winning without jumping, landing the first hit and many more. If they could accomplish something during a fight or mini game that actually occurred in the manga, they would unlock a “secret factor,” which would grant them additional points. These points were used to unlock additional characters and bonus galleries with artwork and other bonuses. It’s likely Capcom wanted players to be able to jump into online play with all the characters unlocked already, but it would have been nice to have had the option to play Super Story Mode. Without unlocking the characters firsthand, newer players could even pass over the secret characters completely since they’re hidden from the selection screen.
Bits of the story are still present in the HD version, told through English text and Japanese voices in between battles, but they’re scattered and conflicting. For example, certain characters are killed before Dio is vanquished. Choosing one of those characters often presents a limited view solely from his or her point of view. In addition, this often creates a non-canon story arc in which a character who should be dead ends up defeating Dio. Rather than being able to play through an all-inclusive super story and discovering the intriguing tale from all angles, players are now forced to put it together piecemeal.
Of course, the main focus of nearly any fighting game is in its versus battles. The HD version still supports local battles with added support for online multiplayer, both ranked and unranked. Unfortunately, the filters for online multiplayer are fairly basic, but at least the actual battles run smoothly. In most of the matches I played, I encountered no visible lag. Finding an opponent did take some time. To ease this process, the game can search for matches while players train or play arcade mode.
The game takes another hit when it comes to training. Rather than having actual trainers or displaying moves and combos on screen, the only guidance is from a move list accessible in the menus. As a downloadable title without an instruction manual, it may make sense to bring up a move list on a nearby device or print one out. Veterans may be able to pick the game up fairly easily, but there’s a definite hurdle for newcomers to surmount.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a serviceable port with minimal upgrades. The $20 price is low considering the rarity of the PlayStation game on Amazon ($35 used), but Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is also a rare game and the HD version of that game released for $5 less. The higher price of JoJo’s HD release is sure to make the smaller fan base of this esoteric game even smaller. This is a serious problem considering the game’s stripped down single player and complete lack of unlockables.