has had a bad year so far. Devil May Cry 2 was a disappointment, Auto
Modellista could have been a lot better, P.N.03 left a lot to be
desired, and the half-dozen or so Mega Man titles released this year
didnt cut the mustard. That is why, despite the hype, I wasnt in too
big of a hurry to play Viewtiful Joe. Luckily for me, a review copy
showed up on my desk, and I got to see the error of my ways and play a
great game that I probably would have skipped otherwise. Viewtiful Joe
is a beautiful looking game that packs an amazing gameplay experience.
We dont get the chance to say this too often, but this is one game that
no GameCube owner should be without.
story in Viewtiful Joe is B-rate sci-fi through and through, but it
works pretty well here. Joe is a normal guy watching one of his favorite
Japanese-style superhero films starring his hero Captain Blue with his
girlfriend Silvia. Suddenly, one of the bad guys from the movies jumps
out of the screen and takes Silvia with him back into the movie world.
Joe chases them into the screen and enters movie land, and with the help
of Captain Blue, becomes a superhero that not only has to save his
girlfriend, but Movie Land too.
Viewtiful Joe is a heavily updated version of the classic 2D sid-
scrolling beat-em-up. I dont like to use the term old school when
referring to Viewtiful Joe because it is about a million times better
than any of the slow, bland, and repetitive games that have made up the
beat-em-up genre over the last fifteen years or so. Sure you are still
moving left, right, up, and down and pummeling enemies with your feet
and fists, but Viewtiful Joe has so much more to offer.
What makes Viewtiful Joe different are the special moves that Joe can
use. These moves all allow Joe to control the movie world that he is
fighting through. You earn the main moves pretty quickly, but you are
then allowed to buy new moves and upgrade your techniques between
levels. By allowing you to steadily upgrade your abilities throughout
the game, you almost always have a new trick to try out, so the game
never feels repetitive.
first special ability you can use allows you to drop everything into
slow motion. This has a lot of uses and since your attacks do a lot more
damage in slow motion, this is the ability youll find yourself relying
on the most. In slow motion you can easily dodge enemy attacks and then
dish out a devastating attack of your own. You can also dodge missiles
and bullets and even send them flying back to where they came from.
Several puzzles require you to use the slow motion function as well.
While in slow motion, water droplets grow to enormous sizes and you will
learn to use them to your advantage. In other areas, if an object is in
your way, you can hit it in slow motion to knock it into the air and
then run underneath it before it crashes back to the ground.
second ability you open up is mach speed. As you can probably imagine,
this is the opposite of slow motion. At mach speed you can dish out
several quick attacks on an enemy before they even know what hit them.
Joe can travel so fast he will heat up and burst into flame, which is
useful for when you need to light something like a bomb fuse on fire.
The third ability you can take advantage of is zoom. This allows you to
zoom in on the action and causes Joes attacks to be even more powerful.
While in zoom you can have Joe do a spinning attack through the air or
pound the ground and send shockwaves at enemies. You can also perform a
powerful spinning kick that does a tremendous amount of damage
You can also combine the three special moves to get different results.
For example, once you buy the ability, you can dodge an enemy attack
with slow and then zoom in on the action and Forever Viewtiful attack
will be unleashed and destroy all of the enemies on the screen. All of
these powers drain the VFX meter on the top of the screen so you have to
be careful, particularly when combining moves, that you dont drain it
completely. If you do run out of VFX mojo, Joe reverts back to his
normal old self for a few seconds and you cant use any of the special
abilities. The VFX meter recharges on its own whenever you arent using
a power, so no worries there, but there is nothing more dangerous in
this game than running out of VFX in the middle of a fight.
thing I like best about Viewtiful Joe is that it never feels repetitive.
Even though there are three main attacks and several other techniques
you can purchase in the game with Viewtifuls (the games currency), you
would think that the game would eventually start to get that not so
fresh feeling. Not so. Even after you think you have mastered your
abilities, the game throws a new enemy at you or a new puzzle that
forces you use your powers in a new way you didnt even think of before.
Every boss you face will present you with a new and difficult challenge
and make you innovate even more. The game is always new and fun and
fresh, and that is a good thing.
have mentioned, you can buy items between levels with the Viewtifuls you
earn. By defeating enemies in a stylish way or by killing them all in
one long combo, you earn more Viewtifuls than you would have if you had
just used your standard punches and kicks. Your performance is also
scored in each level and assigned a letter grade. The better you do, the
bigger your bonus is and the more stuff you can buy. The items you can
buy include bombs and boomerangs, but these arent really all that
useful. You can also buy upgrades for your mach speed ability as well as
new techniques such as the Forever Viewtiful technique I mentioned above
as well as new punch and kick combos.
are two difficulty levels when you first start the game, Kids and
Adults. Once you beat the game in Adults mode, you can unlock the
ridiculously difficult V-Rated and Ultra V-Rated difficulties. Even on
Kids mode, though, the game will present a hefty challenge that,
despite being the easiest difficulty, may prove to be too hard for some
people. There are some sequences in the game that are pretty tricky and
almost all of the boss battles will require a dozen or so attempts
before you can recognize the pattern and then execute your attacks. Im
not saying the game is too difficult, the challenge makes the game even
more fun in fact, but I am saying that if you get frustrated easily or
arent the brightest crayon in the box you might not have as much fun
with it. It is totally worth playing through several times on the
various difficulty levels because you can unlock new characters to use
to play through the game with. It takes about 12-15 hours to play
through the game the first time and after that it is worth playing
through at least a few more times, so there is a lot of game here for
those willing to rise to the challenge.
Viewtiful Joe is amazing looking. It is probably one of the best looking
cel-shaded games to date. It doesnt just try to make everything look
like a Saturday morning cartoon, but instead makes the characters and
the game world itself look like the pages of your favorite comic book
set into motion. Special effects for slow, mach, and zoom look awesome
and do a lot to add to the games comic book art style. The animation is
very detailed and combined with the solid framerate make the game look
very smooth and seamless.
sound isnt quite as amazing, but it doesnt hurt the game either. Sound
effects for gunfire or a helicopter and the sounds of fighting are spot
on, but the voice acting and music arent as good. I cant stand the
voice acting in this game. Joes high-pitched screams and heartless
delivery during story sequences is a let down. The other characters
range from obnoxious to annoying. The music is bad to the point of being
annoying, but most of the time it doesnt really stand out.
you are looking for a new GameCube game to check out, Viewtiful Joe is a
solid title that offers a lot of variety in its gameplay and will
entertain you for hours and hours. The art style of the game is amazing
and the cel-shading compliments the gameplay rather than being the only
attraction as is the case with so many cel-shaded games lately. The
controls are tight, the gameplay is deep, the graphics are gorgeous, and
there is enough gameplay here that Viewtiful Joe is worth more than just
a weekend rental. Make it a Blockbuster night if you must, but Viewtiful
Joe is one game that you can buy blind and not be disappointed.
Eric Qualls (11/05/2003)