Author: Heath Flor
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/jojos_bizarre_adventure_hd/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Based on the manga with the same name, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure came out in arcades in North America in the late '90s. By then the video game industry was changing rapidly; the Sony Playstation was all the rage, and arcades were starting to slowly fade out of the limelight. I too ended up leaving the arcade behind, as I was glued to my own TV playing the likes of Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto.
The series was extremely popular in Japan, but failed to gain overwhelming traction in the states. Still, it created a decent enough of a following and was soon released to the Playstation and Dreamcast. An arcade fighter similar to Street Fighter, Capcom has decided to pull this old title out of the archives, dust it off a little bit, slap on an "HD" label, and re-release JoJo's Bizarre Adventure in all its glory.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure centers on Jotaro Kujo, a teenage boy who contracts strange abilities known as a "Stand". After a rather quick explanation from his grandfather as to what Stands are -- spiritual abilities which enhance the character -- JoJo embarks on a journey to free his mother from the evil vampire Dio. Apparently Dio is not only an ancient enemy of the family, but a generally mean guy overall.
Stands vary depending on the character you're using, with some focusing on defense and others on offense. You can turn them off and on, which is helpful in certain situations. Using them too much may result in your Stand taking damage, which in turn depletes the Stand Gauge. When the gauge is empty, you'll be left paralyzed for a short time and open for attack. You can replete the gauge by simply having your Stand off, or successfully landing attacks on your opponent.
Battling through the story mode introduces you to the various protagonists and antagonists found in the manga. Most of the antagonists are actually named after various musicians. For instance Devo is named after the hit group of the same name, as is Mariah (Mariah Carey), and Pet Shop (Pet Shop Boys). Apparently the manga's creator -- Hirohiko Araki -- either felt pop music was evil, or he just had a hard time coming up with original names.
The difficulty level of this game is pretty intense. Even at the lowest setting, enemies are relentless as they pummel you with a constant barrage of special moves. They never give you room to breathe, and nearly no room for error. Mastering this game is no easy task.
Playing JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD in the story mode is the only chance you'll ever have to understand what the hell is going on. Even then, there's still plenty of moments which will leave you scratching your head. Here is where a game manual would have been great to have, if nothing else for the unique stories of each character. As it stands, you'll have to rely mostly on Google and wikis to show you the way.
The arcade mode pits you against a nearly endless roster of enemies. Unlike the story mode, there is no filler in between matches. This is fine if you are already familiar with the story, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're bored and want to kick a little ass while you're sitting around waiting for the latest Skyrim or Battlefield patch.
Online is the real treasure in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD, pitting you against opponents from around the world. Unfortunately most of your opponents are from Japan, and you're going to get your ass kicked up and down the leaderboards until you finally secede and throw down your controller in disgust. If you win, you can bet you've been playing a five year old who is still learning the ropes.
Don't worry though: you can always take a few steps back and pick up training. In this mode you can practice until your heart's content, dishing out smashing combos and fancy moves against a dummy which should raise your self esteem slightly above 0.
The graphics are exactly what you'd expect from an old arcade game with an HD filter applied. The colors pop, while the sprites and environments are a bit sharper. Turning off the filter lends credibility to the old school appeal, without losing the bright colors. I'm not really into the older graphics these days, so I left the HD filter on, but I really like the fact it's an option and not a necessity.
I couldn't help but picture myself standing in an old arcade when hearing some of the sounds. Most of them come out sounding as if they're being filtered through a few holes drilled into an old wooden arcade cabinet. Capturing that essence must have been a challenge, though I could easily imagine some folks at Capcom with a tape recorder recording the sounds straight from the old machine itself. It's great for nostalgia purposes, but if you're an audiophile the low quality sounds may drive you a bit nuts.
$20 for a game nearly 15 years old is pretty hard to swallow. The real selling point is the online battles and the "HD" sprites. Anyone who is a true fan will turn off the HD filtering anyway, and folks who can beat the Japanese players will have better things to do with their time.
Interestingly enough there were no changes to the button names in the move list, leaving you to figure out -- for instance -- what "A" translates to on the Dualshock controller. It shows the consumer just how little effort actually went into releasing this "HD" version. Only die-hard fans and those nostalgic for the arcade scene may find some value hidden in this costly release.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure definitely lives up to its name. Where else can you find a half naked chick summoning classic cars from the depths of hell to beat you with? Or a dog with super powers? The story keeps you guessing, while the AI keeps the beatings to a maximum. If you're hankering for a unique experience which doles out some serious sadomasochistic ass kicking, you'll enjoy your time with JoJo. Otherwise the lack of a gentle learning curve and steep price will put off most people who haven't played it before.
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