Review by The Nine

"Magic."

So far, Viewtiful Joe is without a doubt, the most SURPRISINGLY amazing game this gen.

Today’s games are becoming more and more routine, as the industry is becoming increasingly more competitive, and gamers who demand nothing but quality are often missing out. Face it, 70% of today’s games are utter trash, as they tend to appeal to the mainstream, as developers search for a solid bottom line, while sacrificing the magic that makes a game a classic. Innovation seems to have taken a back seat, yet there are still some developers that manage to bring fresh ideas into different genres. Unfortunately theses developers are in the minority, and are shunned by today’s gaming majority. Sure the mainstream market is responsible for the bulk of the industry’s income, but the demand for presentation is unfortunately kicking what once mattered to the curb. When it comes to today’s gaming industry, competitiveness is bittersweet.

End Rant…Enter Viewtiful Joe.

Story

Joe and his charming girlfriend Silvia are watching a super-hero flick at their local cinema, until terror rears it’s ugly head. The movie’s hero, the flamboyantly-awesome, pot-belly wielding, blue spandex- sporting, terror- inflicting Captain Blue loses his epic battle against his enemy the Jadow. With Joe’s movie hero dead, the Jadow faces the cinema’s audience, comes through the silver screen, and kidnaps Joe’s terrified girlfriend. When all hope seems lost, and our star-crossed lovers seem to be eternally separated, Captain Blue’s Gy-normous robot “Six-Majin”, also comes out of the screen, and drags our hero into the movie in hopes of re-uniting Joe and his lover, while placing the fate of movie-land upon his shoulders. Fortunately, while inside movie-land, Joe is guided by Captain Blue’s spirit, and once he can prove that he is capable of fighting valiantly, and restoring peace to the land, our average Joe is granted super-hero powers.

O.k., you’d have to be a huge fan of Robert Munch to find this story even remotely entertaining. Simply put, the story sucks – and that ladies and gentlemen, is the beauty of it. The story is meant to be corny, the characters are meant to be over the top, and the plot is meant to be ridiculous. This game is after all a beat-em’-up. If you’re somebody who thrives on games that offer deep, entangling plots, consider looking elsewhere.

4/10

Graphics

I love VJ’s Graphics for it’s sprawling environments and lifelike weather effe-nope scratch that. What I truly love about VJ’s visuals are the highly detailed character models, and bump mapped ground textu- nope scratch that as well..

O.K. Let’s face it. VJ doesn’t have all of the conventional characteristics that many believe are needed to make a game visually impressive. What it does have, however, is enough style to make Michael Jackson (in his Prime J), seem like your old uncle Harry dressed to kill at thanksgiving dinner.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that the game is cell shaded, so if you’re against cell shading for whatever reason, stop here, an move on. That said, the game’s visuals are simply awe inspiring . Everything from fire, to water to sewage ;), is extremely well done, the backgrounds are ripped straight out of your favourite 80’s comics, and character models are celluloid marvels (Alastor owns you). All elements come together to make the most stylistic beat-em’ up to ever grace your TV screen, while keeping the frame rate rock solid, and simply put; flawless.

When Viewtiful Joe runs out of super hero power (VFX), the visuals shift to a more “grainy” style. This feature was incorporated by Capcom to remind us that we’re playing through a movie universe, and they achieved just that. When average Joe is on screen, the image quality is as good as your old BETA movies, and when the switch is made to Viewtiful Joe, we are brought right back into DVD quality. Fear not, the average Joe visuals do not affect the overall beauty of the game at all, due to his extremely minimal screen time. As a matter of fact, it makes the transition into his super hero form that much more Viewtiful.

And, for the records, if I owned Joe’s cape, I’d wear it on a daily basis. The thing is just too stylish.

9.5/10

Sound

Have you ever played a game that sounded so terrible, that you muted your TV, and slapped Bon Jovi’s greatest hits album into your nearby cd player? I assure you, there’s nothing like playing Duck Hunt to the sound of a looping Bed of Roses - I couldn’t stand that dog’s tune….

Well, no worries here. VJ sounds amazing.
Everything from Joe’s combat grunts, to his super cool one liners, to the sound of the action slowing down, or speeding up is handled very well. Explosions, drops of water hitting the ground, bullets flying through the air, and many other effects will be well heard when in slow-mo, and will be about as loud as a rat’s fart in the wind when in mach speed.

The music has a techno-retro-funky feel to it, that fits the game wonderfully, and that never gets tiresome. The intro music to each chapter alone, is very hummable and along with the rest of the soundtrack, will keep that fine layer of dust on your cd player.

9.0

Gameplay

Brilliant. Simply Brilliant.

Remember how great of a beat-em’ up Turtles in time, Golden Axe, or Double Dragon, was? Amplify the enjoyment you got out of those by the number that appears on Donald Trump’s bank receipt, and you’ve got yourself a ballpark estimate of just how fun VJ truly is.

Throughout the game, our super-cool hero will receive 3 “VFX” powers. VFX consists of a meter that slowly wears down as it’s power is being used, and that regenerates when it’s powers are not in effect. . Once the VFX runs out, Viewtiful Joe’s red spandex and pink cape are replaced by a blue t-shirt and ball cap, as our hero switches to average Joe. During the very brief time period that average Joe is in command, enemy hits deal more damage and Joe is obviously incapable of using his super powers.

The 3 ever so crucial VFX powers include:

Mach Speed: An upgradeable power that enables Joe to pull off lightning quick attacks, that can easily obliterate entire groups of enemies that are vulnerable to it. Once in Mach speed everything moves at a lighting fast pace, and in some cases, easy, yet clever puzzles require Joe to do so. Mach is a necessity in some places, and is just plain fun in others.

Slow: By far the most important power that Joe can acquire. When in slow-mo, everything obviously slows down, allowing Joe to easily anticipate enemy attacks, while allowing him to inflict more damage. Like mach speed, slow-mo is also essential in some puzzles, and is crucial when taking out enemies.

Zoom: My personal Favourite VFX power. Zoom enables you do literally zoom into the action (which can also be done while in mach speed, or slow mo) , while allowing Joe to perform a couple of new moves that are extremely handy and extraordinarily stylistic all at once. Zooming in while in slow-mo is a blast.

There are many different types of enemies that are individually vulnerable to specific attacks. Some require you to dodge a punch or kick in slow-mo, some require you to deflect projectiles back at them, others attack in patterns that need to be avoided. Enemy diversity is very satisfying, and makes killing them that much more enjoyable. Numerous times throughout the game, I found myself giggling when pulling off combos and “Viewtiful” moves in order to obliterate the opposition.

The difficulty is very challenging.
Save-points are very well placed, though on the rare occasion they seem too far apart. However, power-ups such as health and new moves can be acquired when a save-point is reached. Kill enemies with style, and you’ll be able to purchase more of these upgrades.

Kids mode is rather easy (though some gamers still find it rather difficult), Adult mode is significantly more challenging and is my recommended difficulty for starting off, V-Rated is tougher, and Ultra V rated made me cry. Seriously, when it came to Ultra V and even some cases in Adults, an open widow in my room seemed very tempting. No, I never thought of jumping, but numerous times I wanted to see if my Wavebird was capable of flying.

Boss fights are very diverse, and may seem impossible at first, but are beatable once a pattern is discovered and experience kicks in. Throughout the game, giving up often seems like your best option, however the game is so addicting that it’ll force you to try again and again, until you beat what you thought was at first unbeatable- at that point, you’ll feel on top of the world. That feeling, along with VJ’s perfect gameplay, combine to make this game an instant classic. Viewtiful defines fun.

10/10

Controls

Simple, intuitive, precise, perfect.
Controls start off perfect, and when Joe learns new moves, you’ll admire how effortlessly they are incorporated into the control scheme.

10/10

Lasting appeal

Viewtiful Joe is roughly 8-12 hours long, but may take some gamers way longer. Once completed, you’ll want to play it again and again, until all difficulties and characters are unlocked. Even if these extras were not included, Viewtiful is simply too fun to ditch after a single play-through.

9/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/29/04


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