Review by Unleashed Vortex
"Below average Joe."
Viewtiful Joe failed to live up to its hype. I read a ton of magazine reviews on the game and I found scores of 90% and over. I checked GameFAQS (hardly the most trustworthy of places to go to for review scores) and found that amongst the fan boy trash lay reviews from quality authors giving it the thumbs up. The cover of the box had a sticker saying 93% on it, it must be something special. Unfortunately, Viewtiful Joe is nothing more than a problematic, repetitive and boring game that fills me with rage every time I play it. I'm happy that God invented the Stress-ball so I didn't have to resort in smashing the disc in two.
Viewtiful Joe starts off rather innocently; Joe and his girlfriend, Sylvia are at the movies watching a feature about Joe's favourite superhero, Captain Blue. Sylvia, who has no interest in her boyfriends hobbies (I know how he feels, baha) tries to get some action from him but is harshly rejected. The two continue watching the flick until something out of the ordinary occurs. Not only is Captain Blue defeated by the enemy but the enemy thrusts his hand right through the screen and snatches Sylvia. He then retreats back into Movie land and throws Captain Blues' robot, the Six machine into the auditorium. Then, it picks up Joe and throw him into Movie land as well.
You'll begin your adventures in Movie land as normal Joe, a skater punk with a blue T-shirt, reversed cap and goatee. He'll be attacked by these strange white robots that come out of nowhere to get him, with a few measly punches or kicks, the robotic goons will be smashed into spare parts. He can also dodge enemy attacks, if a robot tries a high punch, a skull will appear next to your head. Pressing down will allow Joe to duck it and pressing up will allow you to jump over low attacks, a skull icon will flash which indicates when you have to do this.
After struggling through this part, you'll meet Captain Blue again. He'll award you with a special V-Watch, turning you from an average Joe to the one and only Viewtfiul Joe. With the added V-Watch, Joe can learn three new VFX moves that will help him trash enemies faster and more effectively. A meter will appear above Joe, if he uses a VFX move the meter will begin to decrease. When it reaches the bottom; Joe will be reverted to his normal self and will have to wait until the meter is fully charged up so he can turn into Viewtiful Joe. You can enlarge this by collecting the V-icons that are scattered throughout the levels. The first VFX he'll learn is Slow-Mo, this causes the environment around Joe to move at a snails pace. It allows his attacks to be a lot stronger and can also knock enemies flying into one another, causing mass damage. It can be used for solving puzzles, like enlarging a drop of water to a tremendous size so it will push a button or for slowing down the propellers of a hovering platform so it will lower.
Joe will also learn to speed up. You can release an arsenal of kicks and punches that can destroy an army of robots in seconds. Joe goes so fast that his suit becomes covered in friction burns and leaves shades of himself in the background. This can be handy for breaking item boxes that have been unfairly placed in the backgrounds of levels. The final VFX move is Zoom in; this allows you to create rapid punches, do a three hundred and sixty degree kick and perform spiralling jumps and stomps. If it's used in the air, it allows Joe to do a heavy stomp that destroys nearby foes. Zoom in also allows you to pull off a corkscrew jump. It's easily the most interesting of the three as it can be mixed with the other two to create even stronger and deadlier attacks.
I'd have liked to have seen more VFX moves, I may seem picky but after playing Blinx: The Time sweeper which allowed you to perform similar tasks and more such as pausing and recording, VJ seemed a little overblown. It was really fun to do these moves at the start but after level three, you found yourself doing the same stuff over and over again. It got mind numbingly repetitive and insanely predictable, you just knew what was going to happen.
You'll take Joe through eight different worlds. All of them are mixed with the previously mentioned action and a few really boring puzzles. After two pretty fun levels of solid action (before it gets boring) you'll be introduced to level three, the water level. You start off in your Six Machine in a very poor and easy shooter stage. It's really pathetic, not only are the most of the enemies just floating around waiting for you to get up close but they just stay still. Sometimes, you'll get a group of seven that bob up and down but you'll waste them with ease. Later, you'll be trapped in a base that launches countless missiles at you, the action is lowered to its minimum until you find the way to get out.
It picks up a bit later on with the Midnight Express level but throws all hope of redemption down the toilet by re-introducing an idea that was reasonably interesting in 1992 but fails miserably in the present day: the boss gauntlet. You have to fight palette swapped versions of old bosses and when they are boring and hard to begin with, fighting them a second time is just a poor excuse to give the game an extra level because they couldn't think of anything else to do with the game. This isn't the only time that VJ uses the same boss rehashes. On one level you'll fight a tank then a fighter jet, another tank followed by a FIGHTER JET! Playing through hard and annoying bosses isn't fun the first time so I don't know why Capcom decided to allow you to fight the same stuff over again because it really kicks the crap out of the fun factor.
You can perform a few combos in the game that will give Joe a selection of V-Points. Occasionally, you'll get to a part of a level where you'll get attacked by a group of enemies so you can get a key to open a door or something similar. You'll hear Sylvia shouting JUST GO FOR IT! which is so damn annoying. After this, you'll be awarded with a score for each of the following categories: V-point, time and defence. You can get four grades which are averaged for your overall score, V is for Viewtiful which is the highest rating, you can also get a score of A, B, C or D. You can also get V-points for fighting enemies well, being offensive and defensive. Doing great moves will allow you to collect a heavy sum of V-Points.
After you have finished a stage you can use these points to buy new moves, weapons, extra lives and extra heart containers. The two weapons are the Voomerang and a pink bomb, holding down punch and kick allow Joe to use these. One is a boomerang that goes over the area, usually destroying anything that gets in its way and the other simply blows up anything in it's way. Using Slow will enhance the performance of these moves and will dish out the damage. They take ages to charge up though so if you're being attacked by anything when you do it, you will get nailed. New moves include a pathetic flying kick and the Viewtiful forever, a powerful yet hard to pull off move.
Joe will duel with numerous super villains which include: Hulk Davidson, a fast talking gangsta dinosaur, Gran Bruce, an Aussie shark and a mysterious Joe-look alike called Alastor. When you encounter a boss, it'll be in a huge arena. You will have no idea what the boss is doing because half of the time you won't be able to tell where the boss his. Suddenly, you'll be nailed from behind by the boss or a weapon of his. It happens so frequently that it will drive you mad and the fact that when you hit the boss it does next to nothing throws you down the path to a long, hard and boring boss fight. After suffering through five main bosses and many other sub-bosses, you'll find yourself in the boss gauntlet where you have to fight all of the main bosses again, in one sitting. If that sounds fun to you then you must be out of your mind.
VJ presents a colourful palette of varied characters, rich in detail. Being a critic of cel-shading, at first I wasn't impressed, but when I saw the VFX in action and the fluid 2-D/3-D combinations I changed my mind. All of the sprites are drawn in a comic book fashion, they have smooth animation and cartoon charm. Joe looks great, his sprite is packed with detail; his butt fluff on his chin and his muscles packaged tightly in his suit may make him look like a homosexual but it looks good so I can't complain. The comic book visuals create an array of flat and colourful backgrounds. They are all well drawn and have a had a lot of work done on them. They follow the comic book style very well but fail at creating any kind of atmosphere.
The music isn't too memorable either, which was pretty disappointing. Capcom usually do well in the sound part but they flop here. The tunes are not very interesting, just typical platforming fare, jolly tunes that don't stand out in any way. The dialogue is obviously a lot more notable but is so damn annoying that it's make your god damn ears bleed. Every time Joe goes viewtiful, he shouts HENSHIN-AGO GO-BABY! which is so damn annoying the first time you hear it. Sylvia contributes to annoying you by shouting Just go for it! every time you hit a challenge. Bosses are even worse, they blabber for ages and their voices are so stupid that you can barely understand a word they are saying. The only redeeming factor here are the noises that Joe makes when he uses slow-mo. This sounds pretty cool but only because of the effects, Joe has an incredibly whiny voice normally.
Viewtiful Joe was a weak game for various reasons and is far too overrated for it's own good. The action is fun at first but gets really boring and repetitive. The puzzles are also dull and pretty much the same thing repeated over and over. Don't get Viewtiful Joe; it's a mess of a game that has so many flaws and problems that really need fixing and fails to live up to the hype. Even hardcore action fans will find this game a dull experience, despite the fact that it started off great. It's like when you eat an apple, it tastes good until you eat the worm that's hiding there on the third bite. Hopefully, the second game will do things right but it'll have a lot of work cut out for it to compensate for this mess.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 04/18/05
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