Review by Archetypo

"Viewty, in the eye of the beholder"

In case you were wondering, Viewtiful means Beautiful View. I'd just like to clear that up. Often games which take chances, which exist with an eccentric flair, can be misunderstood. I wouldn't want anybody to walk from this review not understanding one thing, that Viewtiful Joe succeeds on all levels. It takes chances, with gritty 2d brawls and a level of art design that's scarce in the industry of late. I'd say on the ''breath of fresh air'' scale this is right up there with Jet Grin Radio from Sega. When JGR made its debut it brought Cel Shading out of the closet, and displayed an indubitable creative design philosophy. Viewtiful Joe is indubitable itself. It is a meld of action and finesse, of visual poetry and gutteral pleasures. And then story is not that bad either. Sure, you're trying to save your girl sylvia which reeks of ''save the princess'', but the whole jumping into a movie world Last Action hero style is at the least novel(in a good way).

The game plays like a dream. Side scrolling environments with platforming and brawling done right. You have the punches and kicks you were weened on in the heyday of brawling meyhem, when 16 bit consoles reigned and the arcades were doing good business. But in this game the feel of the kicking and punching, the combos executable and the brilliant controls are very much evolved from the comparatively primitive roots of the genre. This game makes Final Fight seem Neolithic, as if that was made for a hardly formed gamer to play, a gaming cave man's game. This is no such game. It elevates the action just with its basic gameplay-- but then it goes much further(with just the basic gameplay). Joe also has some special VFX powers. Using his VFX Slow power he can subvert all kinds of attacks, he can punch bullets from mid air, he can lower propellered platforms, and subvert enemy trickery. Or, lets say you come upon over a half dozen or so enemies. A cool customer such as Joe can't be taking all day with these chumps, and using VFX MACH speed he can rip through the baddies with flurries of attacks. VFX Zoom IN allows Joe another set of unique punching and kicking attacks. As if it wasn't enough that Joe is the most stylish character in recent memory, as IF. There's much more than style involved with these moves. They set gameplay through a stratosphere of fun situations, and with the games movie inspired vibe are thematically appropriate as well, as if you were directing the show with your wavebird.

Allegedly, Joe is an unlikely hero. I just don't buy that line. He is ready for the big time. This Viewtiful schtick is going places. So I'd say whatever you are waiting for, make haste and pick up a copy of this game. This is the most original action title in years, and definately from the past year, and it's also one of the best. Don't let the old school vibe put you off, everything has evolved greatly from whatever you played on your SNES. It retains all the good aspects of classic 2d games, but improves on everything, adding platforming with the fighting, VFX with the punching and kicking, ultra stylish Cel Shaded graphics with the side scrolling, and for good measures puzzles here and there, which definately makes this game a world apart from most beat 'em ups. Is Viewty in the eye of the beholder? Well, I'd say to miss they beauty in this view you'd have to be blind.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/13/03

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