Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Platform: PlayStation 4
Unleashed in Japan back in December 2015, the newest installment in the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures series, Eyes of Heaven, gives players a bizarre adventure of their own. Namely, fans of the anime and manga will be happy to know the events of this game take place after The Stardust Crusaders arc. If this all sounds confusing, to put it simply, this game is for fans of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and will be hard to understand or grasp if you are not. More so than a Naruto game, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has so many characters, so many jokes and references, that if you haven’t read the manga or watched the anime, you just will not care, even in the midst of competent gameplay.
The plot picks up after the third arc of the series and travels through all eight arcs which currently exist and doesn’t explain much about them. This is why being a fan is a prerequisite to enjoying the game. Even in combat most of your moves are references or taken straight from the source material. The author/artist of the series since its inception has created characters inspired by pop culture, rock n’ roll, fashion brands, etc. The “Jojo” name alone appears in nearly every character’s name somehow. (Such as, Jotaro Kujo.) Each saga of the series is also different thematically. Part one was a more Gothic horror story, whereas the ongoing part eight is a modern-day mystery thriller.
With this out-of-the-way, if you’re a fan of JoJo and wondering “Is this any good then?” The answer is yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. (To non JoJo fans, this is a reference). The gameplay has improved greatly from the PS3 fighter and Eyes of Heaven is now more of an arena brawler. You and a companion (generally AI) face off against another team of two in a decent sized area full of traps, usable items, and objects to throw. Each character has a list of unique moves and even how their basic attacks are performed all vary.
As expected with Bandai Namco anime fighters, each character has 3 lifebars, and if they run out, the fighter is out. There is also a super meter which can be charged for tag team moves and other specials designated of each fighter. Besides this, specials are each mapped to a different button, and every special has a cooldown before they can be used again. With this knowledge in mind, skillful play is more important than quick reflexes and accurate inputs, leaning more towards skill management and arena navigation. Combat can be fast paced, the levels aren’t big enough that you will do a lot of running at the enemy, but they have a height to them which you can use to escape and plan, if your character is less inclined to face punching.
Unfortunately, during battle there is a certain flaw working against you. Unless you target a foe, the camera will work against you. It remains fixed in place unless you manually change it. This breaks concentration during a battle and can even place you at a disadvantage.
Battles are more free roaming, but you will need to be aware of your advantages in a one-on-one fight. You can break combos, extend your combos, counter attack and retaliate at the same time. This may sound like fights can become rather busy, but to the game’s credit, there’s hardly a dull moment. Each area of the game was pretty much lifted from the manga itself, and the story was overseen by the creator of the manga, Hirohiko Araki. To be stated again, if you’re not a fan this won’t matter to you, but if you are a fan it’s like a golden stamp of quality assurance. The story was drafted by Araki and in this way it’s like we’ve gotten a bonus arc.
This game is loaded with content, in which you can unlock over 50 characters. The modes consist of a Story mode, Free Battle, Network Play, and a variety of Glossary/Gallery modes to sift through the history of the franchise. You will be able to expand your stage collection, song choices, and even character outfits as you earn in-game currency. The game offers a lot for fans to unlock and/or buy in-game. You can even get your fighters new battle poses and customize their colors/templates, etc. There’s a lot for fans of the manga to appreciate. Even the loading screens feature quotes from each saga.
Aesthetically speaking, cel-shaded visuals do well to capture the manga. This is really impressive, considering the long-running series has seen art styles changes through its various series. Eyes of Heaven possesses a very colorful and expressive color palette. What sets it apart from other colorful titles is it complements the outlandish manga color schemes perfectly.
Overall, if you haven’t gotten it by this point, fans of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, either the anime or manga, should buy this game when it fits their budget. It’s a fun game with a lot of characters to play as and the interactions between them are great. The story will be interesting and it’s almost like an arc from the manga or anime. Luckily, while playing JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven, it’s clear this title can be played by anyone. Enjoying the title in full, however, seems to be only reserved for fans of the manga, because a lot of what makes the game enjoyable can only be understood by fans.