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JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD
Score: 50%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 (Online)
Genre: Classic/Retro/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:
I didn't originally recognize the name when I got JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD for review. However, after seeing some of the graphics, I realized that I had seen this game in an arcade long, long ago. To the best of my recollection, I never played the game and, quite frankly, was a bit annoyed with the gamers who flocked around other fighters, such as Mortal Kombat and when I saw JoJo's, I was just annoyed that more arcade floor space had been taken up by fighters. I did watch a little bit of gameplay and, in short order, decided it was a bit too "out there" for my personal taste. So ends my personal experience with the arcade version. I headed back to the front of the arcade - probably to play some S.T.U.N. Runner and never thought of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure again until now. It was that strange card-dealing magician/announcer that I first recognized... who (or what) is that guy, anyway?

This game has over-the-top anime-styled characters who look like a Japanese slant on American stereotypes with, well, bizarre weirdness abounding everywhere. One of the playable characters is a dog. Yup. That should give you an idea.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD is a port of the original arcade game to the PS3. Evidently, the "HD" part comes from filtering which is used to smooth the pixelated graphics out a bit and, for that matter, is an option that can be turned off. If you want to view the original sprites in all of their... um... glory, you can turn off the HD filtering. If you play with the HD Visuals option turned on, the filtering smooths the jaggies and also adds some pencil-sketch fills, giving JoJo a look that looks more like its original Manga form. In addition to choosing Original or the new HD Visual Style, you can also tweak a few things, such as selecting from 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios, adjusting the placement of the H.U.D. elements and choosing whether characters should appear in front of or behind the UI elements. None of this is Earth-shattering stuff, but it's nice to be able to tweak these things a bit, since you're display hardware is unlikely to be the same as that of the original arcade cabinets.

I should say that, in its time, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was cutting edge stuff, with powerful hardware. I should also point out that, at one point in time, horses were the fastest mode of transportation. A lot has changed in the years since JoJo's arcade debut and, while the graphics are done in a comic book style with its own certain appeal, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD simply looks very dated and unless there's a nostalgia factor for you, it's going to be hard on the eyes.

It's also quite hard on the ears. The music is old 8-bit style, which I like, personally, but the vocals are quiet, muddy, garbled clips that were more annoying than listening to an audio book of Shakespeare as read by a Speak & Spell. It's actually worse when you figure out what they just said and you're trying to convince your friend of what you just heard.

The way it looks and sounds isn't the only thing bizarre about JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The game's main gimmick is that most of the characters have a secondary supernatural "spirit" character to help them fight. These are referred to as "Stands," and while most of the characters have them, the way they manifest can be different for different characters. For some characters, the Stand only appears when the character performs certain moves; the Stand will lash out and strike the opponent, then return immediately. Other characters can send their Stand out to fight with them or sending their Stand out might swap control from the character to the Stand until the Stand returns or is defeated.

As I mentioned above, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD is a port of the original arcade game, not a port of the one of the console versions. This is important to point out, since fans of the console versions are likely to miss the extra modes that were added for those products. And, by likely, I mean, "I've seen rants on the interwebs." Specifically missed is the "Super Story Mode" that was present on the PlayStation version. This most recent port has better response than the older console versions, but lacks additional modes.

What JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD does feature, however, is online play. There's the Multiplayer Online mode, of course, but there's also a Single Player Online option. This is sort of a strange mode, but it makes sense when you remember that it's an arcade port. Basically, you play through the single-player story until there's another player to play against, then you get the "A New Challenger Has Arrived" as if someone had walked up, dropped a quarter into the machine and joined in, and you play against them. Afterwards, you can continue your Story Mode. Unless everyone else happens to be online at the moment, you're not actually going to get through the story, since players will keep interrupting your progress. However, if you happen to find that it's a slow night for online gameplay, this mode will allow you to keep active while you're waiting for a match.

If it sounds like the characters have a lot of uniqueness to them, they definitely do, from unique (and strange) character design to unique triggering actions to perform their different moves. You'll need to spend a good bit of time playing with a given character in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure before you'll get the hang of the subtleties of the character... and even more time before you'll be able to make good tactical use of their unique strengths and weaknesses. Again, if you're a fan from back in the day, you may already be familiar with some of the characters' moves - or you may be interested enough to put a lot of time into the game to get familiar with it. Since the game stands more as a piece of videogaming history than as a viable game, these days, if you're not already a fan, you may find that you're not interested in putting enough time into the game to get the needed familiarity.

Game Mechanics:
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has some interesting and nearly maddening controls; while there are some D-pad and button combinations and some rotation and button combinations, there are some moves that require a "Z"-shaped movement which I was never able to pull off. Also, it's neat that the characters are so different from each other, but this basically throws balance out the window.

I understand the desire for gaming companies to make new money on old games, and a port to a new console offers just such an opportunity. I also understand people having a sentimental feeling of nostalgia towards things from their childhood. However, if the first time you heard of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure HD your response wasn't, "Oh, wow - they've brought my favorite game back," but was more along the lines of, "Hey, I wonder what that game's about," then you're probably not going to be interested in this game.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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