Based on a famous manga (Japanese for "comic book"), Jojo's Bizarre Adventure follows the story of Jotaro and his friends as they travel throughout the Far East in search of his mother's captor, Dio. Filling more than 40 volumes, the story of Jotaro Josuke's family (hence the name "Jojo") spans multiple generations and is one of Japan's longest-running series ever. The linchpin of the storyline is the relationship between the main characters and their "stands." Stands are psychic partners that enhance the characters' own physical powers and are something akin to guardian angels.
Fittingly, it was Capcom and its CPS3 technology that came along and made a 2D fighting game that was not only able to capture the detailed artwork and character designs, but was able to handle the extra animation involved with each character's stand. Unlike a game such as Street Fighter III, which used all of the CPS3 board's extra horsepower to render the massive amounts of animation in that game, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure used it to animate four characters onscreen at once (two characters with one stand each). When it was announced that this game would be coming home to the PlayStation, which boasts all of 2 megs of onboard RAM, many were expecting a very poor port, with large sacrifices in character animation and speed. It happened with X-Men vs. Street Fighter, and despite the decent port of Street Fighter Alpha 3, things looked grim for the PlayStation version of Jojo.
Amazingly, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure comes home in extremely playable form. Better even than the PlayStation port of SF Alpha 3, Bizarre Adventure retains the arcade version's speed and playability, if not all the animation. Though some frames of animation appear to have been left on the cutting-room floor, if you haven't played the arcade version, you will never notice. Bizarre Adventure plays fast and controls great, even with the PlayStation's controller. One reason for this is the simplified button layout, which maps the weak, medium, and strong attacks to the square, triangle, and circle button, while X activates your stand.Your stand is used to block attacks, offer additional attacks, and absorb damage. However, due to the symbiotic nature of your character and his or her stand, should your stand take damage, you too will share in the punishment. While your stand automatically appears for certain attacks, you can summon it "permanently" by pressing the stand button. If your stand takes damage while exposed, your stand meter drops incrementally and when depleted, you suffer a "stand-break." If the fight ever gets to this point, your character is then stunned and left momentarily vulnerable to attack.
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. In addition to the normal arcade modes, versus modes, and training modes, there is a story mode that offers various minigames borrowed from the comic book itself. 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. Although most American gamers won't be able to appreciate the subtleties of the storyline as much as their Japanese counterparts might, there is certainly enough dialogue included in the intermittent cutscenes to give you an idea of what's going on. Even if you don't have any knowledge of the original comics, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure still offers a more intriguing back story than the vague Street Fighter plot ever did.
So if you're into your 2D fighters, but have begun to grow tired of the countless Street Fighter spin-offs and bad home conversions, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure offers fine-tuned Capcom quality with a unique storyline and great control. That alone is worth its weight in gold. This one belongs in every fighting-game fan's library.