Review by S J
"Viewtiful Joe: The only game that can make Red Tights look cool..."
Think back to the 80s, when pixelated sprites were considered amazing, and you were pretty much a gaming god if you could finish off the original Megaman without using a continue. Remember the satisfaction of beating a final boss, finally seeing a boring ending that, at the time, you thought was incredible? Viewtiful Joe will definitely make you reminiscent of ANY gaming memories that you may have. It sure did for me.
I'm still in shock from the graphical makeup of this game. As you probably already know, the game is cel shaded, a graphical technique that's become an incredible cliche nowadays. But, Viewtiful Joe manages to take this overused engine and make it look new and fresh. The character models look crisp and sharp, and each enemy or minor character has very distinguishing features. You'll never confuse one enemy for another, and you'll never get confused as to where Joe is on the screen, since everything just looks so different and distinguished. Not everything in the game is fully 3D either. A lot of backgrounds purposely look like popups, and most of the props are paper thin, 2D, hi-res drawings. It might sound goofy, but it all comes together with stunning accuracy. I'll be playing this game, and just stop and think to myself...
''This can't be a game. This looks too good to be a videogame''
I've never had this happen to me before. Sure, I was amazed by Mario 64 back in the day, but it still was obviously a videogame. Viewtiful Joe looks like a comic book come to life, mixed with some extremely original elements that can't even be described. Throw in a silky-smooth, 60 frames-per-second framerate, and you've got a graphics engine that's not only totally original, but breaks new ground in both cel-shading and videogaming in general.
The story is excellent for what it's supposed to be percieved as. An extremely corny, B-movie esque romp. And that's exactly what Team Viewtiful wanted to do here. It may sound like an excuse that lets them off easy, but the story really does work here. All of the characters are extremely memorable in every aspect, and there are tons of memorable plot twists and it all comes together as a very charming package.
If I was using Viewtiful Joe's ranking system, this'd get a Rainbow V. This game manages to take the simplest, mindless genre, and give it such an advanced, deep system, almost of Virtua Fighter proportions. You'll start off with just your basic punch and kick combos. Once you gain the ability to turn into Viewtiful Joe, you'll be able to double jump, and perform a ''slow'' technique, which causes Joe's surroundings to slow down tremendously. His attack power increases significantly as well. This opens up a whole new set of punches and kicks. You'll either dodge high or low enemy attacks, which will stun your enemies. Activate slow, and you'll be able to rack up huge points for combos and whatnot. This is just the beginning of the game. You'll gain the ability to do the exact contrast to ''Slow''; ''Mach Speed''. This will allow you to speed up Joe's surroundings as well as himself, and be able to unleash massive combos within, literally, a fraction of a second. You'll get such a rush just using these two powers, and there's a plethora of other anime-inspired abilities for you to learn within the game. The controls are tight and responsive, and you'll never get hurt or defeated because of the controls or camera. (After all, it's a 2-D game). However, there is a minor gripe that some people might have. If you haven't already guessed, a lot of the nostalgia that this game provides is executed through its extreme difficulty. I can safely say that this game is one of the hardest I have ever played. And I grew up on games like Megaman and Contra, so don't think for a second that I'm a soft gamer. The game provides an intense challenge in its puzzles, endless armies of enemies, and inventive boss fights. Some might be turned off by the insane difficulty, but you'll keep coming back to it because of how well it's all executed.
I've seen a lot of people complain about the voice acting or the music. First off, I think the voice acting is just as suiting to the mood of the game as the plot is. Hyperactive, eccentric, and extremely charming. All of the voices perfectly fit the characters, and each character sounds completely different from the other. As for the music, it's given me goose-bumps when paired with some of the more intense moments of the game. Each tune suits the levels and boss fights in such a way that you couldn't play the game and get as much out of it as you would with the music playing.
With 5 characters, 4 difficulty modes, and a rewarding and highly varied ranking system, as long as you have the determination to tough it out through the tougher difficulties, you'll really enjoy the game for a good while.
So, while it may not be a good game for those that play merely for a deep storyline, or for people who are easily frustrated, it's still a highly enjoyable romp through some of our childhood memories.
This is the game that brings back memories for older gamers, and will provide new memories for younger gamers.
Can you say, ''Brand new franchise''?
Final Score: 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/13/03
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