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admin
08-16-2002, 03:19 PM
Xengamers Review: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: The Golden Whirlwind
By Walt Wyman

Publisher: Capcom of Japan
Console: PlayStation 2


Based on a long-running manga series from Jump, sharp presentation and a bizarre storyline give this latest Capcom title flare. However, average gameplay, marked by a rigid combat system, may not be to every gamer's taste. Score

Score: B

Gameplay: C

Graphics: A-

Sound: B

Replay Value: B-


Jojo's Bizarre Adventure has been a staple series of manga publisher Jump Comics since 1987. The protagonist, Jojo (Giogio), isn't any one character, rather a lineage of characters. Elements from the manga (bizarre story, plenty of action, strange characters) have been transferred to the Capcom franchise. Although this may not appeal to everyone, it makes for a unique, and eccentric, fighter.

Billed as an "Adventure" title, this title is essentially a fighter with no 2-player mode. The game is set in Italy, where young Giogio is working part time at the airport. When his friend "Tear-eyed Luka" is killed by the Gang, Giogio sets out for revenge. Initially the game has one play mode, "Super Story", wherein each level requires the player to control Giogio, or one of his pals, duking it out with villains. There are 21 levels featuring various objectives, with the storyline dictating which characters are controlled.

Central to combat are Stands, spectral manifestations of the characters' mental powers, which extend the characters' attack range and strength. The player may summon their Stand, which will fight until its energy is depleted (after which it must recharge), or the player dismisses it. Most of the Stands reference rock/pop music in their names (Purple Haze, Sticky Fingers, Spice Girl, Aerosmith). Stands come in a variety of shapes and sizes and literally stand (or float) in front of the character. When not using their Stand, characters can run about the stage (similar to Soul Calibur's 8-Way Run system), but when the Stand is summoned, the character slows down and always faces the enemy. Characters and Stands both have a standard punch attack, as well as several unique attacks. The controls are intuitive, as each button is mapped to a different attack. Combos are performed with sequential button presses. Characters can also dive and roll at the press of a button. In addition, characters and their Stands can attack in tandem, which can be very fun!

Unfortunately, lack of depth and flexibility undermine the combat system. In particular, there is only one basic attack for most characters (the punch), and a myriad of Stand-assisted moves. Juggling is not an option (as most of the Stand attacks knock the opponent over), and the basic punch is limited to 3-hit combos. This tends to restrict the player's development of a personal style/strategy. Unfortunately, many levels are just simply exercises in finding a successful strategy, and using it repeatedly.

Graphically, the game's creative design and solid animation are impressive. Aside from the generic punch attack, the individual characters have distinct, smoothly animated, special moves. The characters and Stands sport elaborate costumes and quirky designs. The artists succeed in creating diverse Italy-themed levels, from cramped train interiors to wide-open streets and plazas. Each features a lot of breakable objects; lamp-posts can be bent and knocked over, boxes broken, and whole columns can be smashed. Breaking on-screen objects also reveal secrets and hints at times. The cut scenes narrating the title combine animation (using the game engine) and manga-like panels. The only real complaint graphically is the odd clipping problem. Sometimes a character's limb will disappear into a wall or object, but this isn't too distracting. The camera (which is not adjustable) can also be problematic, but generally does a good job of following the action (even dynamically zooming in when the player lands a special attack). However, occasionally the camera becomes obscured, allowing characters to stray out of view.

On the audio end, the game fares well. The sound effects are what you would expect from a fighting game - lots of grunts, shouts, and meaty thwacks. Each character yells a taunt when using the evade move. At times, both heroes and villains break into monologs during battle (either to taunt their opponent, berate themselves if they're getting thrashed, or give the player a hint about how to win). The music sometimes adds intensity or a sense of urgency, but on the whole remains pretty staid. What we found particularly eerie was the complete lack of environmental sounds. Even in stages set on trains or planes, there were no background noises. This detracted slightly from an otherwise solid audio experience.

The game has a couple of features contributing to replay value. "Giogio Ability" points are awarded for completing Super Story levels. Efficiency and unearthing the level's secret/hint boosts this score, unlocking Easter eggs at predetermined point levels. These gems include artwork, viewable character models, a "tourist" mode allowing players to walk through the various stages, and more. In addition, ?Another Story?Emode is unlocked upon completing the main story, allowing 15 stages to be replayed using different characters. Points are also awarded for completing these stages, which are unlocked one enemy character at a time. Thus, replaying Super Story/Another Story stages to improve your overall "Giogio Ability" score is essential. Unfortunately, the aforementioned lack of depth in the fighting system undermines the replay value, as does the absence of a multiplayer mode. The ability to go head to head with human players would have added considerably to the game's shelf-life.

Golden Wind is a strange game, but the eccentric style is interesting. While the Super Story mode only offers 3 or so hours of play, the Another Story stages expand the game considerably. The lack of the depth inherent in more traditional fighting games undermines the title. Fans of the genre should keep in mind that the title focuses more on ambience and narrative.

Importer's Outlook
The gameplay is straightforward, and players with no Japanese should be able to figure out the controls and level objectives without much trouble. However, getting the gist of the heavily contextual plot is tough, even with a knowledge of Japanese.

Pros and Cons:

Graphics
+ Another good-looking cel-shaded game
+ Very sharp character design with excellent animation
+ Nice levels with lots of interactive objects
- Occasional clipping problems

Sound
+ Good grunts and smacks
+ In-combat monologs an interesting idea
- No environmental sounds

Gameplay
+ Numerous special moves
+ Unique Stand system
- Combat leans heavily on special Stand moves
- Not much support for individual playing styles/strategies

Replay Value
+ Loads of Easter eggs to unlock
+ Another Story mode lets you retry levels with different characters
- Overall lack of gameplay depth hurts replayability
- No 2-player mode

Pikachu
09-02-2002, 03:13 AM
Is this game coming out in US?