Review by Relle
"It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Viewtiful!"
Despite the odd title, Viewtiful Joe is a game that can't be overlooked, especially if you're a veteran of the NES/Genesis days. A sort of beat-em-up meets B-movie parody, Viewtiful Joe will be a source of nostalgia for some, intriguing for others, but fun for all.
To put it simply, an example of cel-shading done right. The enemies are varied and detailed, and Joe himself is...well, Viewtiful. An interesting effect is the 'grain' Capcom implemented. While you're in regular Joe form, the screen will appear grainy, like old-time film. Once you become Viewtiful Joe, the screen will clear up. Interesting, says I.
The dialogue is all in English, and no, there's not a Japanese dub. Considering the Japanese version uses English voices with Japanese subtitles, I'm not surprised (and you shouldn't be either). The voices are decent, and the dialogue is humorous and appropriately corny. The music is catchy, with a nice beat that moves you along nicely through the levels. A good job by Capcom.
Truly what makes this game great. Remember the old side-scrollers of the 16-bit days? Joe's this generation's answer to that. More of a 3D game on 2D rails, Joe can move back and forth, up and down through a level, beating up baddies and solving puzzles.
The premise for the game is this: Joe's at a movie theater with his girlfriend, Silvia, watching an old B-movie starring his favorite superhero, Captain Blue. Never mind that Blue's got a beer belly and graying hair, he's still the best. Right up to the point where the bad guy kills him, pulls Joe's girlfriend into the movie theater, and Blue pulls Joe in with them. So begins Joe's quest to rescue his girl and kick some major bad guy ass.
In the beginning, you're just Joe. Can't jump very high, can't hit very hard, just your average...Joe. Yeah. After getting introduced to the game's control scheme (which will be covered later) and fighting a few baddies, you try your luck against Blue himself. After beating your idol, Blue awakens your hidden superhero powers, turning you into the amazing, stupendous, skintight Viewtiful Joe! After that, the game gets really, really fun.
The controls are so easy and intuitive, it's scary. The analog stick or control pad move Joe (use the analog stick, it works fine) while the A button jumps, and X and Y punch and kick respectively. The L button uses the Slow move, R uses Mach Speed, and B uses the Zoom In power. It's a little hard to realize just how kickass this game plays till you pick up the controller and beat the crap out of a few baddies.
Speaking of baddies, there's a lot of them, and all more or less require some strategy to beat. The basic baddies can just be beaten up as fast as you can tap the X and Y buttons, but there are also the robotic ballerinas, the gun-toting cowboys, the samurai warriors, the paratroopers, and the big, bad helicopters. Your powers of Slow, Mach Speed, and Zoom In will all be put to the test as you punch, kick and smash your way through the armies of baddies to rescue your girl.
Your powers aren't just tools of destruction, either. Just in the first level there are several instances where you can use Slow to solve puzzles or beat enemies. One such instance is the falling axes. You can jump on the chandeliers above and leap over them, or time it right and run underneath. Or, you can use Slow, which will set a little target around the axe, then punch or kick the annoying blade and get some Viewtifuls for your trouble. There are a number of ways around every obstacle, and players who experiment will be rewarded.
Viewtifuls, in case you were wondering, act as cash for this particular game. In between levels, you'll be given the option to save and shop. Depending on how many Viewtifuls you have, you can buy new moves, fill up your health meter, buy extra lives, extend your health meter by one, or even improve your special powers. It's something right out of Devil May Cry, and it works.
You're initially given two game modes: Kid and Adult (which translate to Easy and Normal). Besides the fact that the levels themselves will take more than one try to beat (not to mention the later bosses) there are extra game modes, unlockables, and new characters you can acquire. This game is a recommended buy, but if you need convincing, give it a rental. You won't be able to resist the sheer Viewtiful-ness of it all.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/09/03
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