Bandai Namco just released Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven (JBA:EoH) for the PlayStation 4 today. The title is certainly a love letter to and celebration of the long-running series, but one serious question arises. Is this game really only meant to be played by series fans?
You're probably asking yourself -- what is Jojo's Bizarre Adventure? It's a manga series created by Hirokai Araki in 1986. The series has seen 8 parts in its 36 years. Each standalone story focuses on a Joestar family member and the fantastic misadventures they find themselves in. The characters' designs range from very manly to whimsical.
Honestly they look like they would be at home on the catwalk during fashion week in Paris. The author/artist of the series since its inception has created characters inspired by pop culture, rock n' roll, fashion brands, etc. The Jojo name was also inspired by the Beetles song "Get Back" -- and it appears in nearly every character's name somehow. (For example, Jotaro Kujo.) Each saga of the series is also different thematically. Part 1 was a more Gothic horror story, whereas the ongoing part 8 is a modern day mystery thriller.
JBA: EoH is definitely a manga tie-in fighter. Simply calling it a fighter isn't quite right. It's actually more of an arcade arena brawler compared to the previous title. This isn't a bad thing, but the approach is different. In this iteration, you'll be joined with a partner and battle while in a fully 3D space.
You'll be able to execute normal attacks, specials, side steps and character specific moves...to name a few. Environments are now larger and feature environmental hazards or features that can help you.
Battle may be more free roaming, but you'll need to be aware of your advantages in a one-on-one fight. You can break combos, extend your combos, counter attack and retaliate at the same time. This may sound like fights can become rather busy -- and yes they can. To the game's credit, there's hardly a dull moment.
Depending upon what character you use, that fighter will posses one of the various attack styles in the game. Characters with stand style for example, attack alongside a summoned being with a unique set of powers and abilities. Jotaro uses Star Platinum, which can freeze time. So, for a number of seconds, your foe will be completely helpless as you deal massive damage. Another example is Caesar Zeppeli from Part 2. He attacks with Hamon style; a mystical martial art that allows him many different attacks. There's many abilities among the cast and no one plays exactly like the other.
With the addition of working with a partner, you can also execute a dual heart attack. This is a special combination of each characters' most devastating attacks. I should note that depending on what characters are working together, you'll be treated to some funny cutscenes.
This game has tons of content. For one, you can unlock over 50 characters. Now that's a beefy roster. You'll be able to expand your stage collection, song choices, and even characters outfit as a start. The game offers a lot for fans to unlock and or purchase in game. You can even get your fighters new battle poses and customize their colors and etc. There's a lot for fans of the manga to appreciate, including the original story scenario. Loading screens also feature quotes from each saga.
Aesthetically speaking, cel-shaded visuals do well to capture the manga. This is really impressive, considering that the long-running series has seen art styles changes through its various series. JBA: EoH possesses a very colorful and expressive color palette. What sets it apart from other colorful titles is that it compliments the outlandish manga color schemes.
The game does have a certain flaw working against it. Unless you target a foe, the camera will work against you. It remains fixed in place unless you manually change it. This breaks concentration during a battle and can even place you at a disadvantage.
So while playing JBA: EoH it's clear that this title can be played by anyone. Enjoying the title in full, however, seems to be only reserved for fans of the manga -- because a lot of what makes the game enjoyable can only be understood by fans.
If you're in search of a fighter that's more flashy and colorful this is for you. If you're a fan of the series, even better -- don't miss out on Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Eye of Heaven.