Posted by: Leek | July 20, 2013

Jojo: All Star Battle Early Theory

So I’ll admit I’ve been trying to keep a bit of optimism. When I heard who was making Jojo:ASB I figured it wouldn’t be a game worth a second of analysis and even now I’m not positive it will make miracles. However, after watching the full matches of the Battle League the chunk of my brain that is obsessed with over analyzing fighting games started kicking in. As such without even the game in my hand or any of the issues of magazines that listed info, I started compiling information via the Battle League matches and the various articles Famitsu has put up online. Since I feel bad just letting the info waste away, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to compile it into a tiny article.

The result with be a huge compendium where I’ll look at some common questions surrounding the game, the weaknesses and strengths of the various styles. The article is being written for the fighting game crowd moreso than the Jojo crowd so be warned that I’ll be throwing out certain terms without any explanation.

  • 2D or 3D?
  • One of the most common questions I see from people is if the game itself is a 2D or 3D fighter. The straight answer? It is by a technical definition a 3D game. While command inputs and various elements echo a 2D game, all characters have the ability to step towards and away from the background giving you the same movement you would have in any 3D game.

    The catch is that the sidestep is fixed to a button (X by default, X+Down to move towards camera) simplifying the common action of double inputs on the control stick. This means, despite the 3D plane, any player should have relative ease in mastering movement in all directions. Due to this, I don’t see the 3D fighter mindset ever slipping into the game. Despite the presence of sidestepping, this is the only real way of traveling between planes. No moves appear to intentionally track but various moves have appeared to catch sidesteps in Battle League Matches. If it’s only long time use, sidesteps appear as the safest way to counter long range zoning. Projectiles won’t track to a new line mid travel so it allows you to make an approach from a safer route rather than being forced to approach and guard (ala 2D fighters). There is a small chance that sidesteps may function similarly to a roll/dodge option at closer ranges but I believe at a certain point they bear too much risk to throw out carelessly. But they are a definite feature of the game that will need to be experimented with.

    In the end I believe the game will be played akin to a 2D fighter. On wakeup characters don’t appear to have the ability to roll between planes and all movement options (aside from the sidestep button) directly behave like 2D fighters. So, the various options and techniques that you need to master to compete properly in 3D games aren’t quite present within ASB. So play it like a 2D fighter. Chances are it’ll give you more payoff than thinking of it as 3D.

  • A Bit on Gamespeed
  • Another hot topic about ASB is how the speed of it often looked in matches. CPU vs CPU matches don’t demonstrate the best examples of how characters can move but it’s shown a lot of evidence that characters look a little sluggish. In all honesty I can’t completely disagree. Various attacks appear to come out a little slow (and have stupidly long recovery), jumps aren’t the quickest, and character walk speeds are old man worthy. However…

    Backsteps and Forward hops are universally quick. The two combined with how quick sidesteps appear make the game look far from completely sluggish. Most characters by using a combination of forward hops and sidesteps look as if they can close space on zoners in no time at all. In the end even if attacks don’t come out at breakneck speeds, movement alone looks as if it’ll keep the game at a good enough pace to satisfy most kinds.

  • Approaching Oki
  • I feel that a bit of special attention needs to be paid to Jojo:ASB’s oki game mainly because of the extra addition of taunting. As far as I see there are three options given to you on how to approach a opponent after downing them.

    1) Damage: Various characters have attacks that may only be used when the opponent is down and appear comoboable. Not only this but in the rare case a opponent chooses not to wake up or tech roll it gives you an option to fish for extra damage. While it poses a certain risk outside of combo it is guaranteed damage if the opponent doesn’t see it coming. However if the opponent is fishing for it it means they can easily get out of it and counter you. As for doing it in combo the animation appears long enough to give the opponent time to recover safely meaning that you won’t get any advantage as they are waking up and return to the neutral game.

    2) Setups: Just like any other fighting game, a downed opponent puts you at an advantage. Since there are no proven wake up attacks it means your opponent is forced to react to what you’ll be doing as they wake up. And with certain character abilities it can mean some incredibly difficult situations. For example, a opponent who is down will have to worry about having to wake up into a completely unblockable moves if their opponent is Cars. Diavolo can activate Epitaph and force his opponent into a situation where they can’t do anything once they wake up. So for people who like their oki game, each character will most likely have interesting options by exploiting individual traits.

    3) Gauge: The option to get a free taunt on a downed opponent is perhaps the most interesting option of the three. While it seems silly, doing so will knock down the opponent’s gauge (if only by a bit). This gives you an option if you happened to knock your opponent far off and can’t set them up properly. And since several characters rely heavily on gauge, a few taunts will begin to add up. Just like hitting with a down attack it means you reset the wakeup situation and certain taunts appear to go on long enough you can put yourself in certain danger by giving your opponent time to close distance. However when fighting a character such as Diavolo (who can constantly harass you if he has gauge) it might become a necessary tactic to utilize in a down situation.

  • Zoning and Rushdown
  • So how will the common 2D playstyles we know hold up in the long run? There will be individual character breakdown in Part 2 and I’m sure there will be a bit of overlapping dialogue with what I talk about here. But I feel the need to go into general detail for what each kind of player should keep in mind.

    Zoners: When I first saw started watching matches I had a strong feeling that the game would lean heavily towards zoning. But after seeing more and more matches I feel that zoning a good player will take a lot of effort. Without a good idea of your get off me moves and careful projectile placement, it feels as if pure zoners will struggle against someone rushing them down. Certain stages are fairly large but the speed at which opponents can approach with forward hops and sidesteps means an easy way to avoid a heavy zoning game.

    In opposition, taunting and the supposedly universal cancel mechanic give zoning characters ways to make it hard on characters rushing in. By utilizing a down taunt you can cut down on the gauge your opponent will have when they reach you and prevent them from doing their hardest hitting combos. And by using your own gauge to cancel moves it allows you to save yourself or reduce your recovery frames after hitting an opponent. Players using zoning characters will no doubt have to master using stylish moves effectively to punish opponents and regain the space they want. In the case of a projectile war pure zoners appear to have the upper hand over hybrid zoners so players can have the peace of mind they won’t be beat out at their own game (except by another projectile heavy character).

    Hybrid Zoners / All-Rounders: Hybrid Zoners or the “all-rounded” type characters will no doubt have a field day and various (coughcaesarcough) will no doubt have high tier potential. The ability to play both games at certain ranges means they’ll have a great game if the player can control their space properly. Hybrid zoners will have to know when to throw projectiles and when to rush in given their field position to make sure their attacks are giving them the greatest advantage. So for most players interesting in spacing and footsies, the hybrid zoners will probably be your cup of tea. Just like in any 2D game, the character will influence your balance of zoning and rushdown but will offer the most stable and beginner friendly options. However, I think they’ll easily be the deadliest characters when put in the right hands.

    Rushdown: While it looked like every character would be throwing out some type of projectile, Wham, Jolyne, Okuyasu, and Diavolo are some notable mentions for full rushdown characters. While the lack of projectiles seems to indicate no way to control space, all the characters have various tools that allow them to properly stand their ground. If not their tools, mastering how to navigate around projectiles via sidesteps will be the first thing all rushdown players will have to learn. Beyond that, gauge management and finding your optimal combos given all situations will be a must. While controlling space is always a necessary tool, rushdown players will need to learn how to adapt their tools and find ways to keep themselves relatively safe as they stay in their opponent’s face. Stylish moves can easily change the flow of a fight so patience will also be key.

  • The Three Main In-Game Styles plus Dio
  • The last idea I wish to cover is just analyzing what to look for when picking between Hamon, Mode, and Stand users. Unfortunately, this doesn’t factor in how Gyro exactly fits in. I would like to mention that as of this point I cannot confirm the cancel mechanic is universal even if it was listed as such early on. In Battle League matches I’ve only noticed stand users utilizing it whereas any Mode or Hamon useres have yet to do as such. On top of this no Stand users has activated Rush Mode to demonstrate exactly what it looks like. So in most cases I’m speaking as if cancels are mainly unique to Stand Users. Again, it’s more likely AI incompetence rather than the core mechanics having been changed. But unfortunately I can’t and don’t wish to try and analyze what I haven’t confirmed with my own eyes.

    Hamon: At this given time we know for sure that all Hamon users have access to gauge charge and EX moves (by performing a command with the style button). EX moves don’t use more than 30% of full gauge meaning that Hamon users have an additional option to boost damage in combos (or make moves safer) by spending the necessary gauge. Add this on with the cancel mechanic (if universal) and Hamon users will have incredibly high damage potential at 2-3 gauges. Since you have the ability to charge gauge it allows Hamon users the ability to be a bit more lenient with how gauge is spent. As a tradeoff, all the Hamon users don’t have any real gimmicks in comparison with Stand and Mode style characters. They also lack the same amount of reach in comparison meaning that EX moves and other smart movement will be necessary to stay within range of your opponents.

    Mode: Exclusive to the Pillar Men as of current, Mode appears as the gauge hungriest style of the lineup. With at least half a bar present, Mode characters have the ability to activate a mode that powers them up in various ways. After activating, gauge will slowly drain until it runs empty at which point your character will enter a short stun pose. However, you can deactivate mode at any time to avoid this stun state but there is still a small animation for deactivation. Unfortunately, Mode style cannot charge gauge like Hamon and don’t gain any gauge while in mode activation. So activating mode must be performed at optimal times to avoid wasting gauge and so that you can properly deactivate to avoid giving your opponent a free hit. But the benefits of entering mode are high and opponents should be wary of Mode characters sitting on full gauge. Mode characters will no doubt be the heaviest meter management characters as choosing how you will spend you gauge can easily change the flow of the match.

    Stand: The bulk of the cast, Stand users rely less on specific abilities as a whole and more on the gimmicks their individual stands offer. But Stands no doubt give the overall benefit of longer attack range at the cost of the stand itself getting hit. As of now, Stand users are the only ones to exhibit the cancel system in the game where one gauge is sacrificed to cancel the full animation of a move. The fully Stand user specific ability announced is the “Rush Mode” where the player can command the Stand out to attack while the user continues to move ala the tandem attack system in the original Jojo Part 3 fighting game. Whether it remains in the game and the AI simply doesn’t perform it or it was removed from the game entirely (and Stand users simply received the cancel ability exclusively) is generally beyond my knowledge. This all aside Stand Users no doubt have slightly less ways to utilize gauge compared to the rest of the cast outside of individual abilities. But with the abilities certain stands have, each character will give you more than enough interesting tools to put you on level with the rest of the cast.

    Vampire: The style that solely belongs to one of the later additions to the roster (Phantom Blood Dio) right now, Vampire appears to be a style based heavily on pros and cons. Just as one would imagine, one of the pros is having the trademark ability to steal life from opponents which can be executed as a follow up to particular moves. Upon execution you not only get to steal health back but also meter which makes it a double threat to meter hungry characters (though the exact amount it steals is unknown). Beyond this a portion of damage that vampires take will always be converted to white life rather than straight damage. So what’s the tradeoff? Just like in the manga, Vampire style is intended to take more damage from Hamon attacks to offset life steal and white health traits. Whether the style merits enough of a threat or the extra damage will be significant to merit counter picking will become a definite decision down the road. If combos can be fond that always end in life steal, Vampire will no doubt be a threat with the constant ability to gain back life.

  • Overall Thoughts
  • All in all, analyzing matches has left me hopeful for Jojo:ASB. I can’t predict what will become of balance, bugs, or certain system mechanics being downright broken. But it no doubt has enough concept behind it that it may turn out more viable than people had originally thought. If nothing else we might be looking at the newest completely broken anime fighting game to join fan favorites such as Hokuto no Ken, Fate/Unlimited Codes, and Sengoku Basara. Who really knows.

    You can expect a lot more from me in the future once I have the game itself. As of right now I see a lot of potential in it and I think it’s worth my time to experiment and see what the system allows. Be sure to stay turned for eventual tutorials and videos once ASB is released.

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