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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: For Matching Service Review

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: For Matching Service
Original Release
Japan: 1999

Game details:
1-2 Players
VMU enabled
Standard controller, Arcade Stick
Jump Pak enabled
VGA Box (FMS ver. ONLY!)

“Jojo’s BA” is a collection of 2 fighting games by Capcom based on the manga series by Hirohiko Araki. The finished product makes a real great effort in translating all the craziness of the source material and blending it with Capcom’s signature fighting gameplay much like how the company did with the Marvel license (speak of which, Jojo’s mechanics seem to have a very “Marvel Vs. Series” feel to it albeit with a more heavily grounded approach). The end result is a surprisingly refreshing and creative effort (from such a stagnant developer of the genre no less) that 2D fight fans should try out.  The game utilizes a 4 button mechanic that’s mapped out to dictate weak, medium, and fierce attacks as well as the main feature that makes this game truly unique among the rest... the “Stand” button. This feature controls your characters "Stand", an inner persona or alter ego. This feature varies from character to character in accordance to the manga. Some fighters wield a spirit, while others supernatural ability lies within a simple object like a gun, sword or even a possessed doll! When turned ON you gain access to special abilities like chain combos, double jumps and immunity to chip damage in return to whittling down the Stand gauge instead. If said gauge gets completely drained down, your Stand will crash and your main character will be open to free damage. Going back and forth into battle with your Stand on and off is key to the games mastery. While it seems like a tedious endeavor for a feature, it's a very interesting and fresh concept to the genre that adds a bit of flair to the fight.    


Jojo’s visuals are a result of the short lived in-house CPS3 arcade circuit board of Capcom. With that said, this series (in a graphical sense) doesn’t seem to fully tap into the hardware when compared to the 2 other franchises that saw life on this arcade hardware (one being “Red Earth” and the other being the SF 3 trilogy). The sprite work looks very reminiscent of the Darkstalkers series. These games seriously look like they could’ve been produced with the CPS2 arcade board (hell, X-men COTA and MSH look more impressive to me!). Animations look solid enough, but no where near on par with what those other 2 franchises that were able to muster more from the hardware. The backgrounds are another problem. Throughout they look pale and lifeless compared to what is seen on other Capcom 2D titles. It’s not all bad in the visual dept though. The game does have some spectacular visual effects are downright insane as they are awesome! We’re talking about falling Steamrollers, resurrecting Cadillac’s, Screen size teeth munching on your opponents and awesome gunfire shooting straight through the TV screen. There’s some wacky visual eye candy in this series for sure that demands mentioning.
 Before we move on from this category, there is another major bone to pick with the original U.S. Dreamcast release which I’d like to address and get the facts straight… and that is the games lack of VGA compatibility. Before I get the whole bit of “Hey CD ages, there are other DC titles that don’t support VGA”, please consider that. . . THOSE OTHER GAMES THAT AREN’T VGA COMPATABLE DON’T ADVERTISE THAT THEY ARE LIKE THIS DAMN GAME! History repeats itself here as yet again Capcom has packaged their products with very ridiculous errors in which they don’t seem to care how their consumers are affected as a result.
RDC has once again stepped up to the plate and provide DC owners everywhere with “FMS” version of Jojo’s that was released exclusively in Japan via DC Direct online service. This Japanese re-release is indeed VGA compatible right out the gate (fixing what the original release lacked) and ready to be enjoyed the way it was meant to be played!    

The games sound dept is somewhat weak where it counts. The music is quite honestly awful. Many of the characters themes sound very dull and boring, thus doing little to compliment much of the action that appears on screen between these BIZARRE characters. On the plus side though, vocals and character dialogue are excellent and very coherently powerful. Characters have very lengthy dialogue before, after and in between matches giving it that crazy Japanese anime feel. Sound effects are nothing special, your typical Capcom fare.

Anyone remember Capcom's advertising campaign for this game in various publications?
Resident Evil
Dino Crisis
It seems Capcom brought over this series from overseas without putting much thought into its marketing. I suppose it makes sense when this particular brand had very little exposure to the western audience at the time. I have a feeling that if this game was re-released in today’s market, it would gain slightly more recognition and appreciation then it did back then solely on how much of its game mechanics innovated at the time and paved the way for other hit fighting titles that borrowed from this sleeper hit (I’m looking at you Arc sys GG and BB!). I personally felt very conflicted reviewing this release mainly due to how much I respect this game from the perspective of a fighting game fan. I honestly wish I gave the game more of an opportunity as a kid (I bought this back on release day for the PS1 and eventually purchasing the superior DC port). On the other hand, the game really had no dedicated scene out here in the states for the game to grow and as a result warranted little reason to play the game to learn its intricate features. Furthermore, the mere fact that I cannot play the game via VGA really kept me from playing it more than I would like to if it was. Instead, I spent quite a while trying to understand why this game would not work via VGA. Little did I know as a kid that it simply came down to a company that would be so inept, to release a product with an advertised feature it wasn’t meant to fulfill… for shame. With this version being released for many to enjoy for the first time, my compliments go out to RDC for another superb effort!