Way back in 1998, the thing that stuck out to me about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was that it was often touted as the “new CPS III game,” with CP System III being at the time the latest arcade board for head-to-head fighting games from Capcom. This, of course, was mostly meaningless to an 11-year-old in what had to be the stickiest-feeling arcade in the dirtiest mall of North Texas. What it really meant was that it was being powered by the same stuff as the string of Street Fighter III cabinets/updates, which were almost irrationally popular with the fighting game goons in my area.
What I somehow managed to forget, however, was pretty much everything else. From the Stands to the bonkers characters and whackadoo story based on the manga of the same name, the complete insanity of the game had almost totally slipped from the grasps of my teenage years. Or perhaps it fed into furthering my nascent psychosis. Who knows?
This particular port is, from what I’m told, based on the Dreamcast version, which included stuff from both the original and the updated Heritage for the Future version such as the eight additional characters (bring the total up to 22). What it lacks, however, is pretty much everything from the 1999 PlayStation release, which is quite a lot. While the arcade version had a story and the goofy cutscenes that are even here in the HD remake, it is a far cry from the smorgasbord of content that Sony had to offer with its port back in the day.
The Super Story Mode, as it was called, was a beast of an offering. The story obviously got very bizarre (there is a character named Joseph Joestar, after all), but so did the gameplay. Between the fighting and the bits of animated dialogue, you got sojourns into other realms of gaming. At some point, you were playing a god damn shoot ’em up!
But all of these minigames are missing from this HD version. This is what could be called a barebones JoJo’s experience, even in light of the high definition makeover. Aside from the actual arcade portion of the game (which I guess you could argue is at least the meat of it all), very few additional things were included and, in fact, a few things were taken out of it like the superfluous but very much appreciated manga-ficiation of the menus and whatnot.
As for the new bits, you get an HD filter—a laughable label for something that seems to only apply an active blur to anything with an edge—and, well, that’s about it.
But like I said, the meat is still there, and hot damn is it delicious. It’s still a four-button fighter with a Stand button to compliment your light, medium, and heavy attacks, and given its Street Fighter heritage, certain knowledge and tactics can still be applied like dragon punches, fireballs, and super meters. Even if you’re more familiar with the six-button configuration of Street Fighter, you’ll still find some things that will make you more at ease with this otherwise technical and new player-averse system.
The big difference, however, are Stands. If you played Persona 4 Arena, they are work kind of like Personas. If you haven’t, they are basically a suppressed, super-powered physical representation of your innate abilities. It’s a complex system where you can summon them to do battle alongside you, call them for single-use, instant attacks, or to mitigate otherwise crippling supers. This adds a Stand gauge up with your health and power bars where, once depleted, with cause a Stand Crash, momentarily paralyzing you and leaving you open to a suitable ravaging.
And then there are the…unique parts of JoJo. For instance, there is a character named Iggy that is pretty much just an overly aggressive Boston Terrier. And some characters like Jotaru simply just don’t have Stands. Every character, though, does have its own story, so at least you’ll get an explanation of sorts. Well, it’s an anime-style explanation, so be sure to keep your expectations in check when it comes to rationale and logic.
So given the fact that you can now easily play one of the most inventive fighters of the past decade, I could suggest that you play this game immediately. Just hop on XBLA or PSN, download it, and go! The problem, however, is that the asking price is a whopping $20. Yes, twenty whole dollars for a game that was released not last decade but the one before that.
Few people knew about JoJo before and I doubt many are going to know it now. It doesn’t offer nearly as much as what it did when the game made the bulk of its fans on the PlayStation and it isn’t making it any easier with a hefty price tag and an already savage online community (which may or may not have already dissipated). If not even original fans are going to be willing to shell out the cash/points for an otherwise lackluster HD remake, I can’t really imagine what will draw in newcomers. However, if you are one of those OG players and you just really love the core of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, then I can’t recommend this one enough because hot damn, those Stands are fun.
That is until you get stuck between a dude and his Stand, then AAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH.