Les Miserables As A Fighting Game, Who Would’ve Thought

Who would have thought a classic novel such as Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables would be popular across the world and be adapted into different formats, with the most popular adaptation being a theatrical musical, that has been performed on stages across the world, no matter how big or small the stages are.

Beyond the live stage, Les Miserables received many film and TV adaptations.

In 1998, a film adaptation was released that starred Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean and Geoffrey Rush as Javert.

In 2012, a musical film adaptation was revealed that starred Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, and Russell Crowe as Javert.

In 2018, PBS Masterpiece Theater and BBC released a six-part miniseries.

A full-length anime series adaptation of the story, titled Les Miserables: Shojo Cossette, was released in 2007 and spanned 52 episodes.

Did you know that someone decided to adapt Victor Hugo’s story in a traditional 2D fighting game?

The game’s not titled Les Miserable, but Arm Joe, which is pronounced “Aa Mujou” or “Ah, Mujoh,” that is supposed to translate into “Oh, Cruelty.” It’s neither a perfect nor serious fighting game, but it’s a fun game that’s worth playing for the novelty and to experience Les Miserables in an unpredictable and very random way.

Even though the game got the attention of IMDb (enough to get its own entry) and the Huffington Post, it’s doubtful that many people, especially the fighting game community and Les Miserables fans, know of Arm Joe’s existence.

In fact, I watched the first episode of Les Miserables: Shojo Cossette because I downloaded and played Arm Joe a long time ago (the latter half of the 2000s). As a casual gamer and avid fighting game fan (most of my games are traditional fighting games), I definitely appreciate the novelty.

Even though I learned about the game roughly around 2007 or 2008, Arm Joe was released in 1998.

A developer who goes by “Takase” created the game using OUTBACK’s 2D Fighting Maker, a popular software used by doujins (translated as a clique of people coming together and self-publishing their own creative works). The people of these doujins are generally fans that share a mutual interest in something and take the original works to another level, though they still have to navigate legal licensing and so on.

Seasoned fighting game veterans will breeze through Arm Joe because it plays like Street Fighter, Fatal Fury, and King of Fighters.

As long as you don’t take the game seriously, you’ll have fun playing it. If you’re interested, there are a couple of sites where you can download it for free.

The game’s playable roster contains a sizable number of characters from the original story: Valjean, Enjolras, Eponine, Thenardier (his wife assists in special moves), Javert, Police (a generic early 18th-century French police officer), Cossette, and Marius (introduced in a much later build of the game).

The game introduces three original, definitely ANACHRONISTIC, characters in Robo Jean, Ponpon, and Judgement.

The characters that interested me the most were Police, Robo Jean, Ponpon, and Judgement.

Nothing epitomizes the concept of police brutality than giving a police officer the moveset of Street Fighter’s Akuma. Yes, Takase decided to create a genetic early 18th-century police officer, uniform and all, and make him fight like Akuma, and he even has the Shun Goku Satsu to boot, too!

Akuma players, amateur to experienced, will get a kick out of playing as the Police, though DON’T take the game seriously.

I would have expected someone like Javert to have Akuma’s moveset, but a generic 18th-century French police officer? I had more of my fair share of lulz fighting against the Police, in the Arm Joe game, I mean.

That’s pretty scary if you’re leading the French Revolution and you come across a platoon of police officers, each of whom can pull off all of Akuma’s moves.

Robo Jean is a robotic clone of Valjean and he’s just added to the roster for the sake of it, which is my honest guess, who explodes into sprockets and other machine parts when defeated. I am CONVINCED the concept of Robo Jean came from Mecha Zangief, a robotic clone of Zangief, who was introduced in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter and exists as an alternate costume for Zangief in Street Fighter V (though he’s officially an anti-Zangief weapon made by Shadaloo).

I could picture Robo Jean being an actual character if there was an adaptation of Les Miserables that went into the fantasy, science fiction, and/or steampunk genres. It should be noted that a lot of steampunk stories take place in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ponpon from ArmJoe

Ponpon cracked me up as she is a sentient anthropomorphic bunny plush doll that can summon a car, an actual car, as a super attack. She also has the ability to call in a literally floating man-baby, with the diaper, for combat support.

According to the developer, Ponpon comes from an alternate universe, though I find it amusing that she’d pick a timeline that’s full of misery and bloodshed.

Judgement, ArmJoe’s final boss, was created to serve as the literal “judgment” of the players’ souls. I am reminded of Yujiro Hanma from the popular martial arts manga, adapted into anime, titled Baki The Grappler.

It’s fitting for Judgement’s appearance to be based off on Yujiro Hanma, respectively, the former being the embodiment of the final judgment in Arm Joe and the latter literally being the worth’s strongest man in the Baki The Grappler series.

I enjoyed using Judgement for the sake of being a lazy @$$h0le as I can repeatedly spam opponents with a aerial diving side kick for the entire match.

As for the gameplay, it’s not that great, it plays just like Street Fighter. If you know your way around a 2D fighting game, you’ll easily get the hang of Arm Joe.

I never thought something like Les Miserables would become a fighting game, but it does exist.

It just shows that anything can become a fighting game (2D, 2.5D, or 3D), it doesn’t have to be a serious fighting game (balanced for tournaments, especially online tournaments), as long as there are enough dedicated people willing to work at it.

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Veteran citizen journalist who enjoys martial arts, indie & foreign film, anime, manga, gaming, music, and martial arts.

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Can Hoang Tran

Can Hoang Tran

Veteran citizen journalist who enjoys martial arts, indie & foreign film, anime, manga, gaming, music, and martial arts.

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