Monday, April 21, 2014

Report from the Front: WonderCon 2014 Video Game Demos (EHeroFlareNeos)

This year, in addition to the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con 2014, we at Trophy Unlocked decided to also attend WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim for one day (Saturday). Though I felt tired by the end of the day, the exhaustion was nowhere near the levels it had reached previously with Comic-Con and we were able to do just about everything we wanted, although we abandoned all hope of getting to do anything related to Adventure Time (I love the show and all, but the show is impossibly popular and the line for the panel not only went outside, but filled up an entire panel room). During my time on the show floor, when I wasn’t trying to get comics signed or exploring all of the booths, I managed to preview an upcoming game at the Namco Bandai booth, where there were pretty short lines compared to the packed Nintendo booth. Though I only previewed one game, since it was a title I was actually interested in playing, I feel like sharing my first impressions of it since I did the same with the demos I played last year at SDCC 2013.

Preview Note: The following write-up represents only the opinions of the writer and is based on a work in progress. Should the final version be reviewed, these opinions may change to reflect the full game.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle (PlayStation 3)

I won’t pretend to know anything about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but after spending some time looking it up, I became interested in eventually reading the manga, more specifically Part 3: Stardust Crusaders (the only one actually released in English), or watching the new anime if it ever gets an English dub. When I heard about the upcoming North American release of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, I felt like playing it despite my lack of real experience with the series. Nevertheless, when I saw the game at WonderCon, I felt compelled to try it out. After playing for a few minutes with my brother, we only felt bad when our session had to end so we could keep going around the floor.

Jotaro Kujo (right) with his Stand, Star Platinum (left).

There is only one word that could describe this game: AWESOME! Even when knowing nothing about the series the game is based on, we got really into it. We played three rounds against each other, one where I played as Jotaro Kujo (from Stardust Crusaders) and my brother played as Noriaki Kakyoin (also from Stardust Crusaders), followed by two rounds where we both played as Jotaro Kujo in an attempt to shove some extra awesome into our play session. Admittedly, neither of us really knew what we were doing, but despite that, we knew that whatever we were doing was AWESOME!

Screenshot (digital photo) of our first match.

Within our play session, we got a feel for the combat, which is very smooth and responsive and takes full advantage of the series’ signature Stands, abilities which the characters of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (beginning with Stardust Crusaders) harness in combat to gain the upper hand. The visuals are very colorful with a somewhat dark color palette, achieving a very distinct style that really helps it stand out from all of the other fighting games I’ve played. One feature we really liked was that while the game is on a three-dimensional plane, the camera angles can be very dynamic, resembling how an anime fight scene would be framed. It is all of these elements combined with the insanely over-the-top combos, which felt easy to pull off, that kept us playing for as long as we did.

Noriaki Kakyoin (left) with his Stand, Hierophant Green (right).

In the end, we’ve decided that we really want to play more of the full version of this game when it gets released. Apart from Mortal Kombat (2011), this is a fighting game that my brother and I are both really anxious to play more of. Once we do get the full version, we’ll see just how well CyberConnect2, the studio behind Asura’s Wrath, really did in crafting what is so far a very engaging experience. In the meantime, if you own a PS3, I would highly recommend checking out the demo to see if you get drawn in the same way we were.

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