Many considered Viewtiful Joe Gamecube game of the year in 2003. The series seemed to have a lot of potential, but after just a few games it disappeared despite being adored by many. While originally a Gamecube Exclusive the game was eventually ported to the Playstation 2 which added a cameo of the character Dante from Devil May Cry but port lacked progressive scan support. While currently the series may not be going at the moment, Viewtiful Joe did make a surprise appearance in Tastunoko vs Capcom in japan, giving hope that the series may not be dead. Was Viewtiful Joe a missed opportunity for a franchise or was it simply overrated, causing the series to crumble on it self?
Movie goer Joe is on a movie date with his girl friend Silvia. While having a small argument with Joe, one of the bad guys from the movie reaches out and grabs Silvia right out from the theater and pulls her into movie land. Joe enters the movie to go after her. Upon entering movie land Joe meets up with the movie’s hero Captain Blue, who gives Joe the power to change into Viewtiful Joe to fight evil and save Silvia. The plot is fairly basic, and contains some plot twists and is usually told through out with short cut scenes at the beginning of a level, before a boss fight and after a boss fight. The writing of the game is well done and has tons of intentionally cheesy lines. Plot holes and unexplained intentions are present but the game’s story was never meant to be a master piece. It’s fun, simple and never takes its self seriously.
Viewtiful Joe was one of the original pioneers of the cel-shaded style and for the most part it looks great even today, despite some rough looking character models. Environments are very colorful and matches the games setting and over the top cartoon style very well. Making, at the time, a almost unique visual experience that seamlessly blended 2D and 3D objects. Even with multiple visual effects on screen at once it keeps a solid frame rate and rarely, if it at all, drops. The music is somewhat forgettable except for a few of the tracks, but doesn’t hurt the experience at all. Voice acting is great…when you can understand it. Some characters voices have such strong filters over them its almost impossible to tell what their saying which would be remedied by subtitles, but the game lacks the option to turn any on. Sound effects are great and some attacks definitely sound like your doing some major damage.
Combat is simple yet deep, you have Punch attacks and kick attacks along with some special aerial attacks and a incredibly useful spin attack that helps when surrounded. What stands out the most is the slowdown and fast forward abilities Joe has. Slowing down time allows for some attacks that do some major damage and also allows you to launch enemies at other enemies as well as make it easier to dodge attacks. Fast forwarding lets you do a flurry of punches and kicks, along with attacking multiple enemies on screen at once with shadow like attacks that hits random enemies on screen. They also make it possible for some unique puzzles in the game such as slowing down objects to make it easier to pass them or speeding up time to make a fan on a floating platform spin faster to make the platform float up.
There are points which you can build up from doing combos that allow you to purchase new moves and power up Joe. This provides some incentive on trying out new things on enemies, but it seems like just doing a regular combo, such as multiple punches, builds up enough points to purchase most of the powers by the midway through the title, which makes the game front heavy when it comes to new moves. Difficulty is incredibly high. Even on easy mode the later levels will have you continuing quite a bit.
The game play all seems to fall into place and makes a simple combat system that can also be deep enough to keep interested. The puzzle elements all fuse nicely with the actual game play and keeps the game moving a smooth pace. All of these things usually would create a decent, if not great, game play experience, but oddly enough it doesn’t. It felt incredibly boring and repetitive. While theres some cool moments, most of the time the game just feels like your trying push through to get to the cut scenes. Due to all the praise for the title I tried my very best to enjoy the game play, but theres something in there that makes it completely uninteresting. I had trouble pushing my self through this title. There isn’t anything wrong with the game play, it’s just incredibly repetitive.
Viewtiful Joe on the initial play through will last around 5 hours, possibly longer on the harder difficulties. Those who play through games only once really won’t get much millage out of this title. multiple difficulties are available along with playable characters that you can unlock to extend the life of the title for those who are interested in playing through multiple times.
Viewtiful Joe has almost everything in it to make a great game. It has very interesting and fun visuals and story, but the game play just was not entertaining and becomes incredibly repetitive. Essentially though Viewtiful Joe is a beat em up type game. If you enjoy those types of games, I recommend at least trying the title, there may be something there for you. Both versions of the title are incredibly cheap on http://www.amazon.com hitting around 10$-15$ new on both consoles and even cheaper if you get it used, so your not risking too much. I still believe the franchise had and has potential still. I truly hope that Viewtiful Joe fans will get another entry in the franchise eventually.