Review by mello matt

"The highs and lows of Viewtiful Joe"

Viewtiful Joe is good game. The 7 is a high one, like a 7.8 or so, but I just can't give it an 8. I like it, but under the principle of tough love, I am going to have to rough it up a little bit. Lets get the bad stuff out of the way first.
First, a lot of folks haven't warmed up to cell-shaded graphics, and since Joe rolls in its cartoony-ness, I feel obligated to mention it. The objects in the foreground are 2 dimensional and seem horribly pixelated. The characters, although charmingly designed, sometimes look kinda funky. The graphics are nice, but I always have the feeling that the Cube is capable of more.
Gameplay can be a little frustrating, and not solely because of the difficulty. In recent years, many games have been too easy (game vets, you hear me), so that means this generation has been weaned on games where you just have to show up. For these kids, Joe will probably be too tough, for older gamers, though, it will be just right. My gripe is that the camera likes to be in the right place at the wrong time. I like to watch Joe, but I also want to see the 10 ton, maniacal, axe-weilding alligator that is charging at me. For the most part, the camera is good, but during some battles, it just doesn't show stuff that you need to see (guys up high or off to the side). This is particularly bad when you are trying to rack up serious V-points. Control can be a little screwy too. While attacks, jumps, and VFX(which allow you to slow down or speed up time) are spot on, moving can be a wee bit touchy. The d-pad lends itself to this game, but it is just TOO sensitive. The slightest amount of upward pressure will make Joe do a dodge jump instead of running which will result in cheap hits, broken combo strings, and its fair share of thrown controllers. Last, the enemies are dismally repetitive. You will kill the same saps over and over, but this does make you appreciate new enemies when they show up, as well as the colorful, inventive bosses.
This said, there is no way I could say VJ is a bad game. The cheesy B-movie plot is perfect for the game and the cinemas show that the game doesn't begin to take itself seriously. This is the saving grace, as the intermissions often merit a chuckle. As I said, the challenge is pleasant and rewards skilled players with Viewtiful points. These points can be used for special moves, a stock of weapons like ''Voomerangs'' or bombs, or extra health bars. The directional controls are a bit sensitive for my tastes but everything else is spot-on. Warping time is but a shoulder button away. It may seem a little gimmicky in some places, but it is incorporated the puzzles in such a way that makes it impossible to live without. You can dodge bullets, but when you are ready, you wont need to; you can punch them back at your attacker, as you can do with missiles.
All considered, Joe is a good mix of beat-em-up and platformer with a side of puzzles, which (though simple for the most part) feel right and break up the action appropriately. The flaws that I mentioned don't negate the game's fun factor, but they do keep it from being the best out there. There are games out there which are better than Viewtiful Joe, but if you are looking for something that ventures from the beaten path, I can't think of one.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/13/03

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