Review by FN1004

Reviewed: 10/13/03

A gimmick that actually worked....

There are many games out there that have some kind of gimmick. A reason to play them. Usually they make the game more fun, to a certain extent. That certain extent is when the game becomes really boring; when you perform every move, against every enemy, multiple times. Enter the Matrix, for example. Slo-mo only did so much before you realized the game was under par. But Viewtiful Joe stomps all over every other bullet-time game in the past. Actually, nearly every platformer for that matter.

The concept is that you take your girlfriend to a corny superhero movie, and when somehow the evil villain kidnaps her, you rush into Movieland to save her. Donning a red mask, tights, and a huge ego, you gain powers from the Captain Blue himself to rescue the damsel in distress. The three powers you get are slow-motion, mach speed, and zoom. Each one offers certain benefits, for example, deflecting bullets with slow-motion, catching on fire with mach speed, and super-cool moves and poses with zoom in. Added to that is the ability to sense attacks coming on you, being able to dodge up or down. The whole reason the game is this good is that despite its simple control scheme, its combat mechanics are deeper than some pureblood fighting games. Combos can be endless if you have the right skill, seamlessly blending the three abilities with kicking and punching moves to cause total destruction.

Graphics: 10 The cel-shading is perfect through the whole game. The cutscenes are perfect. The game even has the ''old movie'' look when you run out of superhero juice and turn back into Joe. The backdrops and characters even look like they came straight out of a movie set, and the character movements are crisp and clean. The particle effects are amazing, when you kick the robotic head off an enemy, and the effects when switching to mach speed or slow motion are amazing. The cool part is that the game isn't entirely detailed, which gives it the feeling that you're watching a superhero movie actually being filmed.

Controls/Playability: 10 This game was truly designed for the GameCube. Within seconds, you'll be bashing through enemies with mad skills - or so you thought. The game gets progressively harder, and you might find yourself tackling a boss several times before being able to perform your moves on it successfully. With that said, this game is just die-hard fun. The cutscenes are amusing, giving that ''I'm corny but I try to act like Sephiroth'' impression, and with the rating system after each important puzzle or event, you'll find that even on Kids mode will you have to work hard at that Viewtiful rating. This adds extreme depth to the game, keeping even the best of gamers at work. Great ratings are rewarding, as they give you points to buy any one of the items at your disposal, from a cheeseburger to restore energy, to an extra life, to continues, to new moves for Joe to use, as if there weren't enough already. It's just so cool when you go slo-mo to dodge a bullet, hit the zoom button, and see Joe's ego strike once more, damaging every enemy on screen.

Sound: 9 This is my only complaint. Sometimes, during the cinematics before the bosses, the music is so loud that you can't hear what they are trying to say. Not that I cared, anyway. The music is not very noticeable, but that was its job; setting the mood but not trying to get you to listen to it. I also like the changes to the noises that come with slow motion and mach speed.

Story: 10 Similar to a season of Superman, the episodes loosely tie into one another, so you don't feel pressed to finish the game in one chunk, but can put it down for a day or two, letting your bloodshot eyes heal. Viewtiful Joe has that story that nobody cares about, so it is only necessary to progress through levels without that awkward feeling that the game isn't telling you exactly what you need to know.

Overall: 10 Viewtiful Joe is a masterpiece, a tremendous success for Capcom, and a game that offers just what its name suggests: genuine fun. It's the kind of game that's fun to both play and watch. Although lacking subtitles, it makes up for with style, fun, depth, and art. This title totally blew me away. I had very high expectations with Capcom tackling the field of bullet time, and it completely surpassed anything I could have ever thought of it.

Rent or buy? Rent first. Some people aren't amused easily, and if you find that bullet time is getting tiresome, or you just don't have the skills to get past Episode 3, then it will take some thinking. For the rest of you, this title definitely deserves its time in your hallowed Cube.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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