Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure HD Version Review

The trend of re-releasing games in high definition serves two equally positive purposes. Those who loved the game during its initial release get the opportunity to re-live what made these games so great, while gamers who missed it the first time get a second chance.

I find myself in the latter camp when it comes to Capcom’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. I had heard of the game and seen plenty of screens, but I never had the opportunity to experience it for myself. Maybe I was too busy with Capcom’s other fighting games, or perhaps I just never encountered the game in my travels, but whatever the reason I never played it. With the release of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure HD Version on Xbox LIVE and PSN, I finally got my second chance.

Still, I can’t help but ask one simple question: What the hell is going on here?

I can probably blame ignorance of the source material, or maybe it’s just my preconceived notion of a Capcom fighting game, but I cannot for the life of me follow this bizarre adventure. I’m not even going to try and explain the story, because I have no idea what it is. The character roster includes a Boston terrier named Iggi and a bird of prey (Falcon? Hawk? Not really sure…) named PetShop. Each character’s moveset includes a supernatural entity aiding them in battle, much like the Personas in Persona 4 Arena. There are three main attack buttons and a button that summons each fighter’s aide…and the list of oddities goes on.

Fortunately, the fighting genre is one where story and theme don’t exactly need to be clear in order to be enjoyed. I certainly don’t play Street Fighter or Tekken for its lush backstory; I play these games so I can crack some skulls. While I didn’t know the first thing about Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure coming in, it’s still a fun fighting experience. Unfortunately for Jojo, his bizarre adventure shows its age.

Modern fighting game fans will have a hard time appreciating what Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure brings to the table. This is a look at a bygone age of fighting: when desire for balance and fairness were trumped by excess and insanity. We didn’t need games to be patched or fixed, we just played what we were given. That said, this re-dubbed adventure is still a fascinating look at the way fighting games carried themselves in the early 2000s – over-the-top, cheap, frustrating, and still fun to play.

Like its early-00s ilk, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure doesn’t hold the player’s hand through the experience. Ever. I pressed Start and the game started; no tutorial taught me the system, no brief “How To Play” montage ran, it was me against the world of Jojo from the get-go. The only way I could teach myself the game was to enter training, choose a character, and learn the moveset. This may sound unfair, but back when Jojo first released this was par for the course. While it may be frustrating to new fighters, for me it hearkens back to a time of innocence, a time when all I wanted to do was to beat the computer-controlled SOB that I could never conquer.  I miss those days, and Jojo brought them back to me.

I love how Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure replicates the feelings of early-00s 2D fighters; I don’t like how it retains the features of the era. A lot of modes and features we’ve come to expect from current fighters are noticeably lacking. A replay recorder, an expansive training mode, and a strong online presence are not part of the Jojo package. There is online, sure, but it’s a struggle to even connect to another player let alone complete a match. Anyone who began their fighting days with Street Fighter IV in 2009 will not find a lot of stimulation in this offering, as it maintains the barebones “just fight already” mindset of the time.

There’s fun to be had with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure HD Version, but only for the “classically trained” fighter: players who have followed the genre since its inception and know what to expect from games like it. A steep learning curve, zero hand-holding, and a lack of robust features will keep some of the newer fans away, but the actual gameplay is as fierce and fun as the other Capcom fighters of the time. It’s certainly not going to knock Street Fighter off of its pedestal, but Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure HD Version is at least worth a nostalgic look at times gone by.

Plus, you can play as a Boston Terrier… how cool is that?


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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