Review by Yeuh Fei Long
Capcom has more or less been working on their franchise sequels, pushing their fighting genre to the side for more focused sales, which is unfortunate, considering Capcom is one of the leaders in the genre to push out great titles. Viewtiful Joe is one of them, if not the epitome of greatness that the genre has to offer. It is a 2d action game, however, it seamlessly plays like a fighter.
The graphics here are superb, the cell-shading has a real comic book feel and atmosphere that meshes so well with gameplay that there couldn't possibly be any room for improvement. The backgrounds and character designs are sharp, crisp and have a large amount of detailed animation to them. The graphics even boil down to two settings, one is when you are Joe, the backgrounds are grainy to give off that sense your watching an old film with blurred colors while the film is slightly coming off the reel. The other is when Joe makes the transformation into Viewtiful Joe, the backgrounds suddenly become full of color.
The story and the game as a whole has a lot of humor, that seemingly works quite well with the twisted plot. Joe, while attending a film with his girlfriend, Sylvia, is taken by a gargantuan hand that comes out of the silver screen and takes her into the movie world, in which shortly after, Joe is taken into as well. To be able to get back his girlfriend, he is given powers by his superior to combat the hordes of enemies who keep him from attaining his goal, and finding out plot twists among the villains he encounters along the way coming across the real reason why they took his girlfriend to begin with.
There are great tunes, they offer a good rush to completely destroy the onslaught of foes that get in Joe's way, especially some of the boss battle themes. While others are goofy and provide a sunny disposition that kind of prohibits you beating anything during that soundtrack. The effects have an abundant amount of details, for instance, the slow-down (Bullet-Time) effect Joe can do, when it's triggered, even sounds are slowed down to almost a stand still and echo, or just the opposite when Joe triggers his Mach Speed ability, when wind is blown furiously while everything happens within a fraction of a second. Something else that was done differently, Capcom hired english voice actors for the Japanese release, and good ones too, a double plus. The english cast befit's their respective characters fantastically, they really bring out their demeanor's so well, without sacrificing botched lines.
To say this game is great is an underestimate, because every mechanic that was integrated into this awesome game is simply that, awesome. Everything works well, no error's or slips to be found anywhere that would detract from anything that's going on in the game. Viewtiful Joe offers 'Style' on a silver platter that doesn't disappoint.
Variety is just about everything in a game, if there is nothing extensive with the main idea of gameplay, it's usually safe to say that the said game can be more productively used as a coaster or perhaps target fodder at a gun range.
Nothing like that applies here though, as Viewtiful Joe has an extraordinary extensive play. Joe's basic attacks are accomplished by Y(punch) and X(kick), which is the basis of combat. Joe can seemingly chain his punch's and kick's into a slightly everlasting combo that goes on and on, which couldn't be anymore of a godsend.
Since Joe can not block, he has an up and down dodge tactic he can use by anticipating his foe's attacks by watching a skull that's displayed on screen. When the skull is seen high, that's the go ahead for duck, and when the skull is low, jump. This is rewarding for Joe, as it racks up points and renders the opponent off balance and dizzy for a follow up.
You'll find a rather depthful play, Joe has quite an arsenal, as if his long lasting combo's that define the word 'Style' wasn't enough for you, well, look no further, because Joe has a few important abilities that are awe-inspiring. In Viewtiful Joe, your blessed with three main attributes that use up the gauge called VFX, which is the source of Joe's power.
Viewtiful Joe can bend time and warp it to his advantage in the ability called Slow-mo (Bullet-Time). This ability is the probably the most important due to Joe's auto-evasions he can perform at the cost of using up the VFX, even more so when he performs evasive tactics which are stunning and are full of eye-candy. When Joe is being attacked, he will do some really cool dodges to evade his foe's, anything from doing a mid air break dance, to barrel-rolling (360ing) out of the way is just astounding. While in slow-mo, Joe can obviously and usually hit just about anything before it has a chance to tag him, another perk is a boost in power as well.
Mach Speed, yes, Joe has the ability to keep up with, if not surpass Jet's that are capable of busting out extremely fast, sound breaking barrier speeds. When this ability is triggered, Joe can slap, punch, kick his foe's upside down without even being noticed that he was even in the same proximity of them, well, guess they wouldn't even notice when they're being torn limb from limb by extremely fast martial techniques. Joe does this so fast that he even ignites on fire for christ sake.
Zoom in, while it sounds like just a special camera effect, which it kind of is, it also accompanies itself with a couple of new moves, power and evasive measures as well.
Every ability is essential to the game for progression, as levels require you to figure out puzzles to continue forward, it's not such a simple beat em' up. Some of the levels were very fun, and other's are just tedious that would surpass just being an annoyance and would invoke a sporadic Tourette Syndrome outburst on the player. That's the only reason this game is receiving a nine.
There are secrets to be found, such as side quests by unlocking secret characters. Even without the secrets, this game has that distinct gameplay that one can keep coming back to, it never really loses it's flavor with it's simplistic controls and settings.
Over All, this game has a winning formula in every aspect that ultimately induces the player to have a damn good time. It's eccentric mechanics are a marvel and offers a wonderful gameplay that will last. Viewtiful Joe is honestly, one of the best games that's ever graced the Gamecube, or any console for that matter.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/01/03, Updated 07/01/03
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