The fighting genre has seen some wild combatants over the years, and the cast of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure are some of the most extreme. Based on the Japanese manga of the same name, the game chronicles Jotaro Kujo's journey to Egypt to defeat his family's mortal enemy, Dio Brando. Along the way, Jotaro encounters dozens of bizarre characters with outrageous powers. Some of these characters were re-created in the late-90's arcade game, now rereleased with an HD face-lift as JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver.
You may only know JoJo's Bizarre Adventure as the game where a guy drops a cement roller on another guy. Yes, this is something you can do, but the game's mechanics run a little deeper. Most fighters in JoJo's can toggle between fighting solo or with their stand: a supernatural guardian that fights at their side. Stands are used to perform special attacks and hyper combos, and it is usually advantageous to have your stand active rather than fight alone. However, your stand can be worn down, and even broken, if it suffers too much damage. Carefully managing your stand and mastering its fighting style are the keys to victory.
Compared to Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver. is light on the bells and whistles. The character-specific trials from Third Strike Online were a great way for new players to start learning a fighter's basic play style. In JoJo's, there's no attempt at something similar. This is unfortunate as the game features a very complex cast. Fans of the original won't have issue picking up their favorites, but any newcomers face a trail by fire just to learn the basics.
Despite the sour stigma most anime-based fighting games have, JoJo's succeeded in maintaining developer Capcom's standard of technical proficiency. As James Mielke noted in the original review: "The fighting in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a wild combination of typical Capcom "versus" games, like Marvel vs. Capcom, combined with screen-filling, over-the-top super-attacks like those found in Arc System's Guilty Gear." Today, the game's solid combat design still holds up against modern standards and the game endures as a competitive contender.
Fans of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure on the PlayStation will notice that the minigames from that game are missing here. As Mielke noted: "There's a card game that pits you against a character from the book, whose stand smashes its opponents into poker chips. Another game is a side-scrolling shooter that is actually quite difficult and is significantly more than just a simple afterthought." These minigames were fun distractions scattered throughout the game's story mode, but here they're just gone. Those looking for the complete JoJo's experience are out of luck.
The game's strongest addition is online play. Under the right conditions--a strong connection with someone in your region--this game performs very well. Both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners should find no unexpected performance issues when playing online. In keeping with the rest of the game, the suite of options provided is basic: ranked and player matches, as well as replay sharing with limited filtering options.
Outside of online play, the only other major addition is the high-definition visuals. And if you look closely, you will notice a stylish pencil-shading effect applied to the darker sections of most character sprites, such as Star Platinum's hair. Switch the game over to the standard-definition version, and that effect is not there. This shading effect helps make the sprites look a little more dynamic, and is a nice touch.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD Ver. is a good resource for fighting game fans looking to rediscover a genre classic. The basic mechanics are still fun today, and you can finally face off against new challengers online. But it's disappointing to see this rerelease does not match the quality of content seen in Third Strike Online. Jotaro and the rest of the Stardust Crusaders have earned such attention, but what they got was the bare minimum.