Many anime titles, while popular with the otaku in America, are not popular enough to get any video game adaptation released in Japan to travel beyond its domestic release. Somehow, however, the heritage of the Joestar family has overcome this. The 25-year-old, and still running, manga, and more recently anime series, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, is being brought to the west. On April 29, 2014, Jojo’s bizarre adventure: All Star Battle will be given to the otaku community in North America by Namco Bandai for the PlayStation 3 (PS3).
The Western Release of this series has been an odd progression. While there is a series of Original Video Animation (OVA) covering the series third part, Stardust Crusaders, the recently-started TV anime version covering from the first part, Phantom Blood, to the second, Battle Tendency,(until the series return in April with part three) has yet to even be licensed.
The Manga was published in America by VIZ, but they only covered part three as well, and have stopped with Crusaders end. The biggest contribution to the popularity among the otaku in America is the game released in the late 90’s by Capcom, not Namco Bandai, titled simply JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which covered part three. The game has gained a cult following, and has been praised for giving players the ability to have a “stand” appear to battle with them. Strangely enough, that same feature, and the tendency of players to over-expose themselves while using it, has nearly as many complaining about the difficulty of the game as have praised it.
The game has recently been re-released in HD on xbox and ps3. All star battle is a 2.5D fighting game with mechanics similar to the previously-mentioned fighting game, but made by Namco Bandai to honor the 25th anniversary of the series. It was released in Japan August 29 of last year, with an April 25 European release and the just-announced April 29 American date. It covers the show from its beginning with Phantom Blood, to the most recent, and currently ongoing, part 8: Jojolion. It features over 40 different playable characters.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it is a set of stories told in different parts. It covers the different bizarre tales of the Joestar family, generation by generation, as they save the world from strange creatures such as super-powered vampire zombies and ancient mummy creatures. The stories are told in a fashion filled with bright colors and fabulous poses that have become an oft-copied trademark. The release of the game is being held out as a possible indicator of the future relating to the release of these anime based games. The game may have been made for fans of the classic game made in the 90’s, or for those who loved the OVA’S released in America and saw the recent one through streaming sites. Regardless, the fact that an unlicensed anime was able to get a game adaptation released in the west is encouraging for those who have lamented having to import games featuring their favorite anime characters.
If this is a sign of what is yet to come, then that may mean that more games related to anime will be coming to western audiences. The Joestars of parts 1 and 2, Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar, and Joseph “JoJo” Joestar, are set to be playable in the upcoming J-Stars Victory Vs, and if their own game is an indicator, as many hope, then they may come to the west in that form as well. If a fighting game based on the oddities of the unlicensed JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series can come to the west, American otaku are hopeful that the game, which features countless popular anime characters licensed or not, will also be given a chance at a western release by Namco Bandai. The Joestars may be JazzDance-Fighting in a new era of anime gaming if they get their way.
Commentary by Reuben Malone