While not as well known as series like Naruto and One Piece, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure actually predates both by over a decade in manga form. With over 116 volumes released to date, the recent anime adaptation has brought more attention to the beloved series, which is represented very well in the series spanning JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a rather unique manga series, as it is split into a number of different “parts” that take place in different time periods. The first starts off following the young Jonathan Joestar, with his descendants taking on the lead role in subsequent parts. The previous and most recent parts are even part of an alternate timeline, which really makes the “bizarre” title all the more fitting. Having a kind of odd story like this that takes place over different generations and timelines would seemingly be hard to turn into one single game, but somehow developer CyberConnect2 has done it.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven takes a note from Dragon Ball Xenoverse by adding in time traveling mechanics that kick off at the tail end of part 3, known as Stardust Crusaders, with you getting control of Jotaro as he finishes off Dio at the conclusion of that arc. At this point, the storyline branches off into a completely original story by the series’ author Hirohiko Araki, which makes it legitimately feel like a continuation of the series, rather than cheap fan fiction that some games suffer from when trying to expand on an existing series’ continuity.
The time travel story is based around an unknown phenomenon that is causing a disruption in the space-time continuum, such as bringing characters back from the dead, which is where the story starts off. Rather than jumping back to part 1 and going chronologically through the rest of them, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven takes an out of order route, including a cast of characters that come from each part, but the strong writing and likeable characters make it work.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is known for its very outlandish character designs and overall art design, which goes perfectly with the game’s cel-shaded art style and often over the top voice acting. Between the impressive number of actual cutscenes, versus the occasional short text over still images sections, and the actual in-game segments, Eyes of Heaven really does the series justice with its anime like visuals.
As an action-oriented series, players would expect a fluid and fast-moving fighter, which is exactly what CyberConnect2 has created in this game. Building on their first outing with the series in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, the actual style of gameplay should feel very familiar, especially if you played the developer’s other release this year, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, or really most manga or anime turned fighters over the last year.
The fighting itself is pretty fun, albeit a little uninspired, as each character utilizes the exact same controls, with you executing attack moves and combos, which then turn into stronger attacks. You also have the ability to execute special moves by holding down L1 and pressing the corresponding button, with each having a cooldown period. The game does a good job at offering plenty of different attacks here for the different characters that really help to set each one apart from each other in a series where the characters are the standout feature.
Beyond the special moves, there are also two other techniques that come into play due to one of the game’s most intriguing features, 2v2 play in each fight. At the start of each fight, you have the option to choose both the player you will use, as well as one other to accompany you in battle. Rather than it being done in tag team fashion though, this other character will actually fight alongside you the entire time using AI. These extra characters aren’t always the most helpful, but considering you will typically be facing two enemies, they can help keep one busy while you take down the other.
Where they are most useful however are the very fun Dual Combos and Dual Heat Attacks. Dual Combos will appear throughout the match where you can team up to attack one opponent together in rapid succession, with a special move knocking them back if you land enough hits. The Dual Heat Attacks are what could be considered “ultimate attacks,” where the game goes to a quick cutscene for a special attack between the two characters, which lands massive damage. These are always fun to activate, especially with the special character combination attacks that you’ll find as well.
Somewhat surprisingly for a game like this, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven also offers an ability to upgrade your skills. By continuing to play the game, you will earn XP that you can spend on new skills, as well as upgrades to existing skills that enhance the duration and such in something akin to the Final Fantasy X Sphere Grid.
Each fight in the game takes place in 3D arenas, though enemies aren’t the only concern for you here. As you’re trying to fight the opposition, there are stage hazards, such as pits between buildings that you can fall in. This is an interesting idea, but the execution isn’t that great with both you and the enemy falling constantly, especially due to knockback attacks. However, there are also plenty of other hazards that pop up in further levels that enhance the fighting in unique ways.
While the characters each feel very balanced for the most part, which are mixed with very tight controls, there is one serious issue with the gameplay. With the full 3D arenas, the game allows you to take control of the camera as well. This can quickly become a problem in the toughest battles, as not only are you having to fight the opponent, but you’re often having to adjust the camera to see correctly. Thankfully, there is the ability to lock-on to an enemy, which helps when you cannot see, but that doesn’t excuse the poor camera usage here.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven also adds in short exploration missions between certain fights. These take place within actual fighting arenas in the game, so there isn’t much room to explore, which was a little disappointing. Typically, you will just move from one point to another that is very close by to activate a cutscene and push the story forward. They are definitely not a big problem, but it could have been fleshed out a little bit further.
For those that do not want to bother with these exploration sections, you can just stick to the Free Battle mode or Network mode. Free Battle lets you square off against the computer, but disappointingly does not allow local 1P v 2P matches. This can at least be done online, which offers both ranked or player matches.
The overall game experience may not be that long, but the number of collectibles can help to extend the replayability factor. By completing stages with certain rankings, you will unlock special costumes, extra colors, dual combo/victory poses, and extra quotes. These can also be purchased with in-game currency, which will take a lot of grinding. Combining this with the aforementioned ability tree definitely will provide you with hours of gameplay, but only if you are willing to go that far.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven builds on the foundation laid by its predecessor with a completely original story by the series’ author that showcases just why fans love this series. The gameplay is pretty basic and the camera can be an issue, but the ability to play with an AI partner is rather unique for this genre, which is made even better with the team-up ultimate moves. Utilizing an out of order time travel story may scare off newcomers, but a fairly simple story and an in-game glossary to get players up to speed make JoJo’s Bizarre: Adventure: Eyes of Heaven one game you might want to at least give a try.