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To many of-age gamers, the Dreamcast represents a golden age of fighting games, where Capcom ported ever arcade fighter they could to Sega’s spiral-emblazoned console. While classics like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike get all the nostalgic attention, one of the system’s greats went criminally under-appreciated: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, a trippy manga-based brawler that has to be played to be believed. Thanks to Capcom’s welcome ambitions for reviving their old-school classics (see: Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix), this fighter may finally get its due recognition when it hits PSN and XBLA this August in some sleek HD duds.
Based on Hirohiko Araki’s manga of the same name – part three of its eight-part story arc, to be exact – this 2D fighter blends the one-on-one punch-ups of classic Street Fighter with the visual insanity of the Versus series. Fights are still best-of-three, mano-a-mano battles, with a twist: besides their light, medium, and heavy attacks, each character can summon a Stand, a corporeal projection with a penchant for chaotic beatdowns. Gameplay is a speedy blend of managing your Stand (who have their own health bars) and unleashing flashy super moves at the rate you’d expect from Marvel vs. Capcom and the like. If you’ve ever busted out a quarter-circle forward fireball motions or a charge move, JoJo should come fairly easily to you.
Lead protagonist Jotaro Kujo heads the extremely diverse cast of heroes and villains, ripped straight from the pages of the manga right down to their music-referencing monikers and eye-caressing visual style of the spritework. And by “extremely diverse cast,” we mean that you can pit a wide-eyed pooch named Iggy against a brawler named Vanilla Ice, or the barely-clothed belly-dancer Midler versus a sentient falcon named after the Pet Shop Boys. It’s safe to say that you’ve never seen fighting game character designs like those found in JoJo; half of the fun of playing is discovering their varied fighting styles, both with and without their individual Stands.
If you’re savvy enough to have played the original back in the day on your Dreamcast, PS1, or (through some miracle) in the local arcade, the game’s “HD” label might be a little misleading – you won’t see any new art assets in the vein of SF HD Remix. The playfield maintains the arcade’s original aspect ratio; the widescreen utilizes the extra space to show off some slick character art of each player’s chosen fighter and their respective Stand. The sprites themselves remain mostly the same, with some filters to smooth the original’s rough edges or add some (perhaps unnecessary) comic-style shading effects – but purists can rest easy knowing that everyone can be set to a standard-def mode. But that’s all icing on an already delicious-looking cake, given the original’s elegant sprites and silky-smooth animations.
You’ll also have the now-mandatory access to online play, which should add quite a bit of mileage to the game when you’re sick of beating up your buddies and want to take your skills online. The game’s price might be a somewhat-bitter pill to swallow: at $20, JoJo breaks the streak of $15 greats like MvC2 and 3rd Strike Online Edition. Regardless, we’ve got many a precious fighting game memory of button-mashing with our Stands back in the day, so we’ll gladly pay the twenty clams for this cult-classic’s revival when it hits PSN on August 21st and XBLA on August 22nd.