Viewtiful Joe
Game Info
Team Viewtiful
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Cartoon Violence, Suggestive Themes
The Good

• Great stylish look
• Fighting never gets old
• Addictive yet challenging

The Bad

• If you're not a brawler fan, you may just want to rent


There are times when you just can't help but love Capcom for what they do. Yes, there are times (the questionable camera in Dino Crisis 3 or their nasty habit of porting any Street Fighter title to any and all consoles, no matter how old the game is) where you want to strangle someone of importance. But when Capcom does things right, they do it all the way. Case in point - Viewtiful Joe for the Gamecube was promoted as a return to the glory days of 2D sidescrolling brawlers. Instead of just doing a simple rehash of an old genre, they went all out and created a wonderfully deep and addictive title that basically revives the genre and gives it new life.

The story behind Viewtiful Joe is simple enough - Joe and his girlfriend Sylvia go to see a classic Captain Blue movie only to have Sylvia kidnapped and drawn into the movie. Joe goes in after her and after a little time with Captain Blue, Joe has a V-Watch, which allows him to transform into a superhero and perform all sorts of moves. From that point, Joe battles through a series of episodes, expertly written and played to the hilt with comic-book flair.

Gameplay, at its core, is your standard side-scrolling brawler, where you take Joe from one side to the other, fighting your way through legions of enemies. In most locations, you'll be required to defeat certain enemies to get a key or use Joe's abilities to solve puzzles to progress further. Most areas are multi-tiered, allowing and sometimes requiring you to jump up on platforms to move on. But, where Viewtiful Joe goes many steps forward in the genre is the inclusion of his powers, each of which is given to Joe over the beginning of the game and are critical for victory.

Joe has the ability to Slow, use Mach Speed and even Zoom In for special attacks. Each of these abilities has special features which make them all worth the time to use. After you dodge an enemy (which is exceptionally easy to do), go into Slow mode and you can gain a combo by knocking your dazed enemies about. Using Mach Speed to fight enemies will get Joe burning hot, which is good for lighting bombs. Zoom In gives Joe special kick, punch and jumping attacks and does more damage that regular attacks. Along with these inherent abilities, Joe can buy new moves, like a slide kick or diving kick with the V-Points he earns during the level.

Joe earns V-Points as he defeats enemies with style (by using his powers). To get more V-Points, you'll want to perform some serious combos, like dodging one enemy and then going into Slow Motion to beat the crap out of ton of minions, which will earn you multipliers and eventually gain you tons of points. Throughout each level, you'll be able to find V-Films - collect 50 and your VFX Gauge will grow by one unit. This is important as using Joe's powers drains the VFX Gauge. If Joe's VFX Gauge becomes empty, he'll revert back to Regular Joe until one unit is refilled. Fortunately, the gauge regenerates quickly on its own.

Before too long, you'll find that every enemy is susceptible to one type of attack or another, so becoming adept with the whole repertoire is in your best interest. Plus, let's be honest, a lot of powers are just fun to perform. During boss fights, you'll find yourself dealing with some serious challenges that require you to be on your toes. Joe will get a score after each section based on speed, V-Points and damage taken, and at the end of each Chapter, will get a score based on the average of each of his grades. Throw in some nice unlockables (like extra characters) and you'll be playing this title for some time.

Visually, Viewtiful Joe is art. Stylistically, the game borrows heavily from pulp comics and even from Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein (who made a career out of painting like pulp comics). While played out like a 2D game, Viewtiful Joe is constructed largely in 3D with a strong stylistic cel-shaded look to every single aspect of the game. Even the smallest aspect is well-detailed and finely animated. On top of that, the visual effects that go with Joe's powers all look great in execution. Throw in some great cinematic cutscenes and you have a visual treat for those who enjoy the style.

As great as the visual package is, the audio package delivers just as well. The voice acting does wonders with the well-written and witty script and the sound effects all feel just perfect. Musically, the tunes for each stage are catchy and work with the whole game's concept.

Viewtiful Joe is a damn fine game that's a blast to play and never gets old. Joe's powers beg to be used and abused and you'll want to see if you can best your previous score. The only reason you might pass on this title is if you were never a fan of the genre, but even then, I'd suggest renting it just to see if Viewtiful Joe's charms will draw you in. This game not only restores my faith in Capcom, but in the validity of reviving old school gameplay in an age of sequels and rehashes.

- - Kinderfeld

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