Few developers are able to capture the stylish action found in anime quite like CyberConnect2. Through its series of highly successful Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm games and its more recent adaptation of Demon Slayer, the studio has developed a stellar track record. Its latest release is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R, which has given the team the chance to revisit and update its 2013 fighting game based on Hirohiko Araki’s magnum opus that is filled with ridiculous characters, absurd yet awesome fights, and musical references. With new characters, stages, and a fresh single-player mode, Bandai Namco’s remaster is clearly the definitive version of the game even if it isn’t the best in the developer’s impressive catalog.
The most substantial change is that the story mode of the original is completely gone. In its place is its titular All Star Battle mode, which features over 100 battles of varying difficulty to complete. Medals can be unlocked by finishing each level and their secret side objectives, which then allow players to customize their characters with taunts and win poses, adding more unlocks to strive for. The change in single-player modes removes a lot of context from the battles, which span all eight parts of JoJo. Although this isn’t likely to bother diehard fans, those with a more casual knowledge will find themselves lost in the strange battles that might find them fighting a small Stand-using dog, but thankfully the absurdity carries the experience. It’s not nearly as ambitious as CyberConnect2’s Naruto games, which is disheartening and a missed opportunity, but it does deliver the fights you’d want to relive and the what-if ones fans would want to see.
Make no mistake, All Star Battle R is aimed at the biggest fans of the series. More recent parts receive fewer missions, with Stardust Crusaders receiving one-fifth of the overall quests. This is also seen with its new character additions as the bulk are from older parts, such as Robert E. O. Speedwagon from Phantom Blood, so JoJolion is still woefully underrepresented as only Josuke Higashikata is playable. Most of the new characters were seen in 2015’s Eyes of Heaven (with the exceptions of Prosciutto & Pesci, Foo Fighters, and Ghiaccio), but they still needed to be adapted to All Star Battle‘s more traditional, 2D fighting system. They’re all solid additions, with Prosciutto & Pesci being the most unique of the bunch as the two men act as one character.
With 51 characters in total (and four more on the way because an anime game can never avoid having downloadable content), the roster brings out the best of its fighting system. It’s not the deepest fighter — it’s quite accessible due to auto combos and simplistic special inputs — but thanks to the wild roster, dramatic finishing maneuvers, environmental hazards, and assist fighters, the action is never dull. The on-screen action might not always make sense, as there are some shorter characters that get hit by animations that clearly miss them, but it’s always enjoyable and appropriately over-the-top.
While the rest of the single-player options like the survival and arcade modes are pretty forgettable, its online sections fare a bit better. There are weekly rewards in the form of new outfits that are tied to completing timed missions that will eventually repeat (so no content is locked away forever). These range from the simple, such as using a specific character or landing a certain attack, to playing a number of ranked battles. They’re a good way to keep players active online for the weeks to come, which is always key for a more niche fighting game.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R isn’t a huge reinvention of the 2013 title, but it doesn’t have to be to please its intended audience. The additions to the cast are solid, the game looks as stylish as ever due to its great art style standing the test of time, and the basic fighting game fundamentals, while still a bit simple, are still satisfying. While it’s disappointing that the story mode wasn’t overhauled to be more like the campaigns found in CyberConnect2’s more recent anime titles, the mission mode gets the job done. Make no doubt, this is the best version of All Star Battle to play and a worthwhile pick-up for any JoJo fan.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.