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 the game would come home to the Dreamcast, it was with great anticipation that fighting fans waited to see how Sega's newest console could handle Capcom's most taxing 2D animation. After all, this would indicate how exact the eventual port of Street Fighter III would be. Fortunately, you don't need to worry anymore. The Dreamcast is clearly more than capable of handling Capcom's fighters, CPS2 or 3, with little or no sacrifice in quality, clarity, or speed.
Offering not only the original arcade version of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, but the Japan-only arcade sequel, Heritage for the Future as well, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure plays fast and controls great, even on the Dreamcast controller, although some may still prefer the Dreamcast arcade stick. One reason for this is the simplified button layout, which maps the weak, medium, and strong attacks to the X, Y, and B buttons, while the A button activates your stand. Newbies will benefit from the "easy" control-configuration which activates powerful attacks normally requiring complex motions with the press of a single button.
Your "stand" is used to block attacks, offer special 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'll 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 challenge mode, versus mode, and training mode, there is a story mode that lets you play through a linear set of encounters drawn directly from the original manga. As mentioned before, the Dreamcast version of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure offers the semi-sequel Heritage for the Future, so basically you get two games in one. Heritage boasts enhanced animation, most notably highlighted in the super-attacks, where the animation is vibrant and substantially more dramatic. In most cases, once you have gotten used to the two versions, you will just play Heritage for the Future, as it is really just a visually enhanced version of the original Jojo. Aside from a training mode, the are two different styles of play on offer: a story mode and a challenge mode. Story mode takes each character through their role in the storyline in linear fashion, and stays remarkably true to the source material. Challenge mode is Jojo's survival mode and gives you one life to get through the gauntlet of characters with.
Although most American gamers won't be able to appreciate the subtleties of the storyline, and their relation to the manga that spawned it, 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 don't really dig Capcom's 3D efforts, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure offers fine-tuned Capcom quality with a twist, along with a unique storyline and great control. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is accessible to both newbies and hard-core gamers alike, which alone is worth its weight in gold. The graphics are as cool as the story, and the only drawback is that, unlike Street Fighter III and Alpha 3, the game does not support the VGA box. Otherwise, this one is a must for every fighting-game fan's library.