"Hesshin a go-go, baby!"

When I first heard about Viewtiful Joe, I thought by it's name that it would be pretty horrible. Turns out I was extremely wrong. After playing (and getting to the last part of the game) at my friend's house, I went out and bought a GameCube, just to play this game.

Gameplay:

You play as Joe, a movie fanatic turned superhero. Like most side-scroller beat-them-ups, Joe uses only his punches and kicks as weapons. However, this is not your standard beat-them-up. Besides playing as Joe, you get the ability to transform into ''Viewtiful Joe'', which is Joe's superhero form. Besides getting a really neat looking costume, Joe's punches and kicks do more damage, and he gets the ability to double jump. This is determined by the ''VFX'' meter (which rises when you're not using any of the special moves, and lowers sharply when you are). The VFX meter can be increased, allowing you to use your special moves for longer. However, if it ever reaches zero, you go back to playing as regular Joe until the first bar fills up, so you have to use VFX wisely. Besides the standard attacks, Joe gets 3 kinds of special moves- Slow Motion, Speed Up, and Zoom In. Now, you'd think that these moves would be like Max Payne, where you only used them to make combat slightly easier. The same goes for Viewtiful Joe, but combat is not all that the moves are used for.

Slow Motion is like Bullet Time from Max Payne. When you use it, everything on the screen goes really, really slow. This is most useful in combat (as Joe is pretty much invincible to enemy attacks while in Slow Motion), but is also used in the many puzzles hidden around the game. Slow Motion can do things like make dropping water bigger (allowing the huge water drop to do things like press switches), make certain platforms fall, and more. The really neat thing about Slow Motion is the blur effects on everything. Likewise, Fast Motion does exactly the opposite (makes fires go down, allows Joe to punch and kick so fast that he can light things on fire, and lets Joe run REALLY, REALLY fast). The last mode is Zoom In, which besides looking really, really awesome allows you to do attacks you couldn't normally do.

Also, the enemies in Viewtiful Joe actually require strategy. Some enemies can only be beaten in Slow Motion, or only in Zoom In. These tactics make the game all the more fun, and set it apart from most similar games. The bosses and mini bosses also require the same level of strategy.

The puzzles in Viewtiful Joe are challenging without being abnormally hard. I never once had to look at a Walkthrough for this game (not like there are any up right now), and most of the puzzles I could figure out how to do in around fifteen minutes.

The other good thing about Viewtiful Joe is the River City Ransom style upgrade system. During battle, you get ''Viewtifuls'' (cash) for performing moves on enemies. In Slow Motion, it's not unheard of to get five hundred to a thousand of these (and you only get ten per hit). With these Viewtifuls, you can buy new moves, upgrade your life bar, or buy many other useful items. The Viewtifuls are especially useful on ''Adult'' (hard) mode, where you die very, very fast.

Controls:

Joe's controls are some of the best on the GameCube that I've seen yet. Even though you'd think they'd be a bit clunky (you punch with X and Y), they're really not, and you get used to it very fast. The use of the shoulder buttons for the time change moves was a good choice (L for slow, R for fast). The only slightly annoying thing is that Zoom In is B, making for a lot of accidental use of Zoom In.

Storyline:

The storyline of Viewtiful Joe is sort of like that of Earthworm Jim. The game is funny without the whole thing being a total joke, and is serious when it wants to be. While the storyline is pretty standard (Joe is caught in a movie, trying to save his girlfriend), the plot really works out to be it's own thing.

Graphics:

The graphics is where Viewtiful Joe SHINES. Although the game is two-dimensional, and very cartoony looking, the graphics are done in a very tasteful way, and almost look fully 3d at some points. Just some of the eye candy in the game includes things like the intro (which actually LOOKS like an old movie. You can actually see the semi-blurriness of it, and the edges of the film on the screen. However, this only adds to the overall graphical value). If you turn back to Regular Joe, the screen blurs out a little bit, making the game look more 3d, but when you change back to Viewtiful Joe, it goes back to being smooth 2d. Even though the game is two dimensional, the level of detail is very high. The buildings in Level Two actually have signs on them, and they're clearly visible, even though you'd think they wouldn't be. Even the facial expressions are visible, which doesn't happen even in some three dimensional games.

Sound:

This is another great aspect of Viewtiful Joe. The voice-overs are done especially well (from Joe going ''Hesshin a go-go, baby!'' when he transforms to the funny comments when you pause), and the music to the game is good background music. This is one of the few games that I actually keep the speakers on after listening to it for a few minutes.

Buy/Rent:

It's kind of a tough decision. You can beat this game in about a week. I'd reccommend renting first, but buying this game would definitely not be a bad decision.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/13/03


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