JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has had a few fighting games in its 35-year-long legacy. Most might still clamorous for the arcade classic that was CAPCOM‘s Heritage for the Futurebut in the meantime JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is about as much Jojo as any sane person could ever ask for. Featuring all of the protagonists and all of the series villains in a plethora of stages crammed with Jojo references, with such love and care for the series that even character lose-poses reference classic and iconic panels from the Jojo manga, it was a hard game to top as far as love for the esteemed bizarre manga went. Even the follow-up, Eyes of Heaven, didn’t quite live up to it. So in celebration of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s 35th anniversary, as well as the Jojo anime’s 10th anniversary, Bandai Namco has given us JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle Ran updated re-release with just all-around more.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room before we begin: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is a fighting game released in 2022 without rollback netcode. Long and hard have the many arguments establishing not the preference but the necessity of decent rollback for fighting games, and that any fighting game release without it this late in the game is simply inexcusable. You may as well not play JJBAASBR online at all. How could you? This taints the whole experience and unless you’re playing alone or with friends on a couch, your experience playing against other people will be hindered. No amount of fan service makes up for lousy netcode.
Alright. With that out of the way: how ’bout them JoJos?
As a fighting game, it plays somewhat simply: it’s a three-button set-up with a dedicated “dodge” button that lets you sidestep in 3D, allowing you limited movement in the arena. Light Attacks can be chained for an easy combo, but dedication can earn you proper combos and specials. There are assists you can select from other characters, as well as each character’s special function—basically, the “Fighting Style” for each character (whether they use Hamon, vampirism, a Stand, and so on). There are obvious issues with regards to the roster, being that there can be so many repeats—if you thought Marvel Vs. CAPCOM 2 having two Wolverines was wild, wait until you see All-Star Battle’s three Dios.
Balance is also an obvious issue: minor characters like the ever-beloved Speedwagon or Zeppeli are obviously not going to have as intricate or functional a move list as heavy-hitters like Jotaro Kujo (either of them). But there’s nevertheless a fun variety and it’s cool to see thought put into how these characters would “function” as a fighting game character.
Right away, you’ve got a very satisfying and meaty single-player package. Arcade mode lets you take any character through an eight-round gauntlet, Endless Mode lets you fight consecutive battles until your health depletes, and finally there are the requisite versus and training modes. There’s a shop where you can use cash earned in-game to buy alternate costumes and color schemes for characters, as well as an art gallery featuring concept art and in-game music. All of these modes are “hosted” by specific (non-playable) Jojo characters like the Oingo Boingo Brothers or post-amputation Jean-Pierre Polnareff.
So, what does the “R” tacked onto the title add? Well, first off, there are the requisite rebalances to movement and attack animations that lead to a speedier tempo in fights. There are also new characters to this version of the game—a whole 10 new characters, ranging from fan-favorites like Trish Una to the eponymous Baoh from a previous manga drawn by Hirohiko Araki. The originalAll-Star Battle’s Story and Campaign mode have been replaced with the All-Star Battle mode, where players can take on a set of challenges based off of instances in the Jojo series. These scripted battles have predetermined characters and all have specific rules to them, while also having secret objectives such as landing specific attacks or winning under certain circumstances that can round out your art gallery.
The aforementioned Light Combo system was implemented, making the game more-approachable to newcomers. Tying into the Jojo anime’s 10th anniversary, the character models and voice cast for the game were updated to reflect the designs and castings from the anime. This may be controversial to some fans that preferred the old cast, but it’s at least nice to hear Ai Fairouz voicing Jolyne. It’s a pity this couldn’t be extended to an English voice track. And for a game celebrating the anime’s 10th anniversary, it sure would’ve been nice to hear some tracks from the anime. All Star Battle has some great music; it would have been really great to hear “Great Days” or “Sono Chi No Sadame” included.
And hey, having mentioned Heritage for the Future, it would have been nice to see more of those characters brought back. Where’s Midler? Where’s Alessi? Where’s Rubber Soul? Go full Guardian Heroes; let us play as one of the many dogs that got wasted and give us a two-frame bite attack that deals scratch damage. It’s off-the-cuff, pie-in-the-sky stuff that’s akin to piling more syrup onto a big plate of ice cream, but a man can dream.
All-Star Battle R is available for the PS4, Xbox series and Nintendo Switch. The version we played was on the Nintendo Switch; we noticed no issues with the game in Docked mode, and the game runs about as well as you could hope in Handheld mode. The animations and stages look amazing, with all of Araki’s flair perfectly captured. It would also have been nice to see more of Araki’s proposed redesigns for some of the cast to reflect his current art style, but then that would defeat the purpose of the game: All-Star Battle R is a fantastic tribute to the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series, be it the anime or the manga. It’s a great indicator of where the series has come from, and this version is as complete a package as you could ever ask for.
Again: this release is marred by the lack of proper rollback netcode. Hopefully this is corrected in the future. In the meantime: this game is a must-have for Jojo fans. Fighting game fans admittedly have better options as far as anime-based fighting games are concerned (chances are, they still wear by Dragon Ball Fighter Z, and for good reason). But by no means should All-Star Battle R be overlooked; this is the final version of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle.