Stardust Crusaders is the third part of Hirohiko Araki’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure series and is arguably the most popular part of the series. This is the part of the series where Stands, individualized manifestations of one’s spirit with unique abilities, are introduced and used going forward. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has had a few video games, though, like most anime things with licensed games, they have all been fighting games. What I’m really looking for are good JRPGs. And while there isn’t an official Jojo RPG, an intrepid fan has stepped up to make their own.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: The 7th Stand User is a fangame made in RPG Maker 2000 by Clayman/NendoTairiku with a translation by Maud Duke. The 7th Stand User is a fangame of Stardust Crusaders, following the Joestar’s family quest of taking out the evil vampire Dio. However, there’s a slight complication to the story. There’s now a 7th Stand user – you – along with some new threats lurking off to the side.
I tried to do something like YIIK where I did a Youtube playthrough of it with a few corresponding blog posts. I fell off of doing the blog posts and when I was ready to pick it back up, I saw that I was already close to the end, so I decided to wait until I did a proper review of the game.
So, the 7th Stand User‘s potential quickly becomes apparent after the opening of the game. Good ol’ Avdol shows up in your character’s dreams and gives you a personality quiz to determine what Stand your OC gets. For the sake of people following along, I transcribed the guide to determining Stands on here because I think Fandom is a terrible webhost. Fuck these ads.
There’s a whopping 18 Stands that players can have. Besides having different attributes and movesets, they can also get small scenes in the main story. For instance, I got Wildhearts, this huge feral cat guy, and he has this bizarre camaraderie with Iggy when he joins the party; Wildhearts also hunted down this one side quest guy, so I’m guessing that there’s gameplay benefits outside of battle as well. So, right out of the gate there’s a bunch of replay incentive here.
One of the main traits of Stands and skills in the game are “ranges,” which affects attack effectiveness in the only real divergence from the core RPG Maker 2000 battle experience. For instance, Jotaro’s Star Platinum and most of its skills are short-range. Short-range enemies will get the full force of his attacks, medium range enemies take reduced damage, while the damage is reduced to being insignificant when used against long-ranged enemies. A way that you can deal with this is to guard until enemies willingly move into range, but personally, that’s coward shit. This mechanic also influences team building in that you’d probably want somebody on your team that can hit at the ranges you can’t.
The main story follows in line with the Stardust Crusaders story. When you get to some battles, you get the choice of letting the canon battle takes its course, or having your OC step in to help. And I’ll be honest, the canon battles are kinda boring because some of them are just “survive until you get a skill that lets you win.” While you won’t get the wacky hijinks of the canon wins, it’s more satisfying to beat the hell out of bosses the normal way.
In-between the main story scenes, you can explore the current location with a member of the cast. This section is a free roaming one where you can take your time before you move on to the next plot beat. There are certain events in an area where if you have a certain party member following you around, you can get a nice slice of life scene that will also boost a hidden relationship value. It’s a nice thing, and you know, nothing better than having your OC hang out with the protagonists. This relationship value influences what ending you get, and, depending on the character, can even change their canon fate.
Now, there is one problem with the whole “hang out with your friend” system, and it’s that it’s the only way to actually level your characters outside of the mandatory story fights. Character levels do not scale alongside yours and they don’t get EXP outside of the party. I ended up having to level grind Jotaro because hey, guess what? I barely used him but he needs to do the big epic showdown with Dio, so I just had this really underleveled guy that led to me getting my shit kicked in until I took the time to level grind.
This problem is only exacerbated by the fact that you can only have one party member with you at a time… which just feels really kinda arbitrary? I sincerely don’t like it. Like, if there’s going to be a limit, it should at least be “2,” since there’s usually 4 party members available at a time, anyway.
Also, a pet peeve I have is the late game areas. Like come on, why did you introduce random encounters into maps when things have already been going fine with the on-map encounters?
Besides giving the opportunity to level up, the exploration segments also gives the chance to pursue 7th Stand User‘s original elements. Besides the canon cronies, Dio has also recruited a bunch of OCs that will attempt to kill you if you manage to find them. Furthermore, there’s a second group of Stand users called the Slaves of Fate, which has been hijacked by a woman going by Vins. Now, I actually think the original flavor stuff works and it was neat seeing what Clayman did with the Jojo canon. However, because most of it is relegated to stuff you have to go out of your way to see, the few things that actually do pop up in the main story may come out of left field – especially the true final boss.
There are also some bigger divergences from Stardust Crusaders‘ main story that’s actually neat to see. In particular, saving Avdol from Hol Horse just opens up a whole new route of the game where you go on an adventure that Avdol did offscreen. Well, he probably didn’t go to a mansion where he got chased by Rolling Stones all Ao Oni style, but for you, the player, it’s a cool side adventure.
And speaking of Rolling Stones, there’s a lot of Jojo stuff from outside of Stardust Crusaders that shows up. Notably, Rohan shows up everywhere to give hints and exposition. Initially, it seems like fanservice stuff for the sake of fanservice, which to me is the worst kind of fanservice. However, if you’re following the original plot stuff of the game, this is actually adequately explained away (at least within the logic of the Jojo universe), which left me with an appreciation for this stuff.
If you get an ending that isn’t just “kill Dio,” you’re taken to a developer’s room at the end, which further opens up the game for you. You’re presented with vending machines for things that will help you on new game plus, as well as teases for other content that you missed. Like holy shit, I knew that I missed stuff but I didn’t truly understand how much I missed until I saw the developer room.
There’s a good reason why there’s multiple Stands for your character to have, and it’s that impossible to see everything on your first playthrough. There’s just a surprising amount of content in this game that you’re going to miss out on if you only play the game once. While I personally have other things to move onto, I’m definitely welcome to coming back to this game for more.
As for the aesthetics of the game, it looks fine. The game is meant to look in line with Gameboy RPGs. In particular, it’s reminiscent of Final Fantasy Legend, which is actually a SaGa game, which is a series that the creator seems to love as the developer room indicates. Outside of the overworld sprites the art seems to be a combination of what looks like scanned art (or very good recreations) and original designs. I’m looking back at that Stand guide I transcribed and yeah, a lot of those designs are baller. Napalm Death? Exquisite. Red Garland? Love it.
For the most part, the 7th Stand User tries its best to adapt scenes from Stardust Crusaders in basic sprite based form. There are obviously things that are difficult to convey within this style that doesn’t fully capture the essence of a scene; for instance, the Hanged Man has to appear as a sprite on the overworld, since it’d be difficult to properly portray him attacking from inside of a reflection.
My main issue with the art comes in when you’re in any area with water. The 7th Stand User somehow manages to pull off the feat of creating water that hurts my eyes in spite of only having four colors to flash between. A more minor gripe is that when a character gets knocked out/killed they just kinda have the same generic “dead guy” sprite, except for the major deaths toward the end.
As for the music, I actually recognize a bunch of it as the default jams available for RPG Maker 2000 and 2003. And folks? That music is good, actually.
While I have a few gripes with 7th Stand User, it’s overall a really cool RPG Maker game that successfully adapts Stardust Crusaders into an RPG experience while having its own ideas. It’s definitely worth checking out once if you’re a Jojo fan and/or if you’re into the RPG Maker scene.