JoJo's Bizarre Adventure — a long-running shonen manga that is slightly obscure in the West — originally received a few fighting game adaptations from Capcom in the late 1990s. Those adaptations included an arcade version running on Capcom's CPS3 arcade board, known for also running the Street Fighter III games, which boasted incredibly fluid animation for the time. There were also two home versions: The Dreamcast received a faithful arcade port with some mild extras, and the PSX version had extra story content to compensate for not being graphically up to snuff due to older host hardware.
As far as fighting games go, JoJo's boasts a very interesting and innovative fighting system that holds up even now. The majority of the cast are imbued with alter-egos known as "Stands," which feature into the characters' special move sets. Stands can be switched on and off at will, with a draining meter governing their use. Through the use of Stands, all sorts of mind games are possible, and they deal with the idea of controlling space on the field. The fights also look cool when you have human-versus-Stand fights, or see Stands clash in one type of battle while the human fighters clash in another type. Proxy fighting isn't something that's usually touted as a feature in fighting games, and it's not something that even the series's closest contemporary relative has fully embraced.
With that said, this is a port of a 13-year-old game, and it's a port job that is both exemplary and disappointing. On the positive side, the title is presented in a complete state with no glaring errors. You have the choice to play in original arcade resolution with pixels everywhere, or with a graphical filter that goes quite well with the game's "manga in motion" art style. The original voices have been kept intact and sound as clear now as they did then. The soundtrack is classic Capcom and really fits the, well, bizarre tone of the game while providing a good backdrop for fighting.
On the playability side, the game controls perfectly, with all inputs carried over and easy to execute. Bring your fight stick if you have one, but if you don't and you absolutely must play this with a DualShock 3, then I recommend the analog stick for best results. The PS3's directional pad has always has always been substandard for rotation-motion-heavy Capcom fighters. All of the hidden characters are available right off the bat; you've got a couple of versus modes, Story mode and a survival mode to pass the time; and online play is included. Said online play is not powered by fighting game community darling GGPO. While I'm personally of neutral sentiment regarding the system, hardcore fighters do swear by it. If you're one of them, it's good to know. The netcode used is that of Capcom's recent HD Street Fighter games (IV, x Tekken, etc.), so expect online performance comparable to those.
So far, this sounds like a pretty good port — and it would be, except for the fact that the bar for Capcom arcade ports was already set months ago with the digital release of Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Third Strike was given the thorough treatment, with GGPO netcode, built-in achievements, game-engine-customizing dipswitches, and a plethora of gameplay features and fan shout-outs. It was actually worth more than the price of admission. Jojo's gives you ... well, pretty much the arcade and Dreamcast versions tossed in a blender, so it doesn't amount to much. Unless you're a fan of just fighting (and with slightly inferior netcode), Jojo's doesn't give you much to do.
If you're a hardcore JoJo's Bizarre Adventure or fighting game fanatic (to the point where you're actually aware of the new, from-the-ground-up JoJo's fighter that was recently announced), you might want to pick up this title. It's a decent fighter that is still more innovative than most of the ones that exist today while not being overly complicated. It also makes for a great general oddity, and it marks another notch on the list of quality Dreamcast games to finally see the light of day on more current platforms. Unfortunately, being an innovative oddity is about the best thing it's got going for it. At the end of the day, it's a fighting game in a crowded sea of them — and a niche one at that.
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