Big guns, big breasts, and more macho-ness than the Macho Man can exude is the standard formula for any fighting game. Well, that is until you meet JoJo and go on his bizarre adventure. Welcome to a fighting game universe where the standard convention of normality is thrown out the window in a way only the Japanese can accomplish.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle for the PlayStation 3 is based off of the manga series JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and takes the player through key points in the multiple storylines of the 30+ year, on-going series. The two things that pop out at the player the moment they begin their first fight are the art style and the fighting mechanics. Every fighting game has their own unique style which differentiates themselves from each other, like DOA5: Ultimate and Persona 4: Arena as an example. JoJo is different in a negative way because of how bulky and slow the fighting actually is. There is very little range to the attacks, combos are almost non-existent except for some easy button mashers, and timing is literally everything. A person could spam throw moves without consequence if they get the frame rate timing down perfectly, and the opponent doesn’t have enough of their power meter saved up for a flash cancel.
As mentioned, frame rate timing is the key concept of this game. Characters move slowly across the battlefield, and with such a short attack range, it becomes a battle of wits and strategy. Wait for the counter-attack, go for the opening every time it is seen, or be patient and build up your special meter for a special heart attack. While the regular combat is dull, the heart specials are fun to see. They are easy to pull off and highlight the game's vibrant artwork with a lot of close-ups. Do one at the right location as the finishing blow and it’ll set-off a ‘dramatic finish,' which is an environment attack scene added in for good measure.
The artwork for the game is what really draws people into the experience, and easily ranks as one of the most beautifully drawn titles on the market. The best way to describe it is to take TellTale Games' The Walking Dead and give it a Japanese overhaul -- and that's essentially JoJo. Needless to say, I felt compelled to play the game more just to gawk at the artwork. What sets the character artwork apart is how backwards the characters are compared to every other fighter. The female characters are more flat-chested, and muscular than their Mortal Kombat counterparts, and all the men are very flamboyant in their mannerisms. For example, instead of backing up in a traditional defensive pose, some characters will prance and skip. This character design pushes the standard conventions of sexual identity in a genre that is set in its conventions.