When you think of arcade-style fighting games, what's the first country that comes to mind? There's an argument for the macabre brutality of Mortal Kombat and the superhero antics of Injustice, but for the most part, fighting games are as Japanese as samurai swords, punctual trains and instant ramen. It therefore stands to reason that the Japanese gaming media will be pretty strict on what separates a good fighting game from a truly exceptional one, right? Well, if JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is anything to go by, maybe not.
When All-Star Battle made its Japanese debut back in 2013, Famitsu gave the game a perfect score. This is the 21st time the publication has awarded full marks in its 28-year history. The only other fighting games to achieve this are the original Soul Calibur and Super Smash Bros Brawl. Now, it's generally accepted that Famitsu isn't beholden to the same reviewing principles as its western contemporaries, but when a fighting game scores 40 out of 40, the temptation is to read it as a sign of something genuinely special rather than a systematic approval of the manga it's based upon.
For those not in the know, Jojo's Bizzare Adventure is an ongoing manga series that made its Japanese debut back in 1986. Its story centres on special individuals who fight with supernatural guardians named "Stands", and while its generation-spanning story arcs have less of a western following than the likes of Dragon Ball Z and Naruto, it remains one of Japan's best-selling series. As such, playing a Jojo's fighter with only a fleeting understanding of its extensive lore is a bit like experiencing a Batman game having never seen the films or read the comics. With no prior expectations, there's little standing between you and the raw mechanics.