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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Action / Platformer

 

Publisher

Capcom

 

Developer

Capcom

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

October 2003

 

 

- A fighter that plays like a platformer

- Very stylish

- Polished controls

- Didn’t skimp on the difficulty

- Some RPG aspects

 

 

- Flashy to a fault

- Sometimes a little too difficult

 

 

Review: Legend of Zelda - Wind Waker (GC)

Review: Ultimate MUSCLE - The Kinnikuman Legacy, Legends vs. New Generation (GC)

Review: Smuggler's Run - Warzones (GC)

 

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Viewtiful Joe

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Viewtiful Joe is one of those games that didn’t cause much of a blip on my radar before it landed on my desk – if there’s one thing I’ve seen from Capcom before, it’s side-scrolling punch ‘em ups.  Captain Commando and the Final Fight and Megaman series, have completely cemented Capcom (in my mind) as a master of the genre.  With Viewtiful Joe, Capcom becomes Grandmaster of the genre.

 

viewtiful joe gamecube review          viewtiful joe gamecube review

 

Talk about a game that’s firing on all cylinders, Viewtiful Joe (VJ) is one high-octane ride.  Capcom has mixed-and-matched the best aspects of various genres to create a game that really has to be played to be understood – no static image or short gameplay clip gives VJ its due.  There’s “coin” collecting from platformers, intense one-on-one face-offs ripped from a fighter, waves of foes so synonymous with side-scrolling punch ‘em ups, and even some between-level purchasing reminiscent of role-playing games.

 

But speaking of role-playing, you assume the role of Joe, a movie fanatic who has an unhealthy obsession with Captain Blue (basically an elderly Power Ranger with a beer gut).  Shortly after his girlfriend is pulled into a Captain Blue film, Joe is also pulled into the film – by Captain Blue himself.  Captain Blue endows Joe with the V-Watch, which turns regular Joe into Viewtiful Joe, Captain Blue’s successor, and provides the means for Joe to save his girlfriend.

 

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Through the power of the V-Watch, Joe has access to VFX Powers that can slow down time, speed up time and zoom in on the action (so some serious hurt can be dished out).  Joe can lay out enemies the traditional way, without any VFX Powers, by rapidly pressing the punch and kick buttons, but then it’s harder to execute the powerful combos.  Slowing down time is probably the best way to perform combos and crush enemies quickly.  But if speed is more your thing, using your VFX speed (after 

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earning it through a challenge with Captain Blue) allows you to take on multiple enemies with rapid-fire moves as you zip around the screen.  Both of these powers can be coupled with the zoom power (again, earned through a challenge with Captain Blue) to perform even more powerful moves, that aren’t so much learned as purchased through between-level stages with the viewtiful points earned through each level.

 

The VFX power moves have a dual purpose: beating up enemies and overcoming obstacles.  Need to open a door controlled by a floor switch?  Slow down time so the dripping water pipe above it can build-up a big drop of water, which falls and pushes down the switch.  Need to leap a huge gap with a bus (while Joe stands on the roof)?  The game is full of these integrated puzzles and some of them will stretch your brain.

 

viewtiful joe gamecube review          viewtiful joe gamecube review

 

Getting a handle on all the action isn’t a problem thanks to some very slick control.  I hesitate to use the word “butter” to describe the control, but it is good.  The various moves are gradually introduced so being overwhelmed isn’t a problem.  This is a good thing because – hot damn! – VJ is a tough game.  It took me an inordinate amount of time to complete the first level.  There’s none of this “picking up where you left off” crap.  If your game ends as you’re taking on the End Boss, you start from the beginning of the level!  Dying isn’t quite as bad but you have to start at the beginning of the encounter and not somewhere in the middle.  There are purchasable second chances through the between-level shop but at a huge cost of your viewtiful points.  After finishing a level, you get the opportunity to save your game – and you’d better do it, you earned it!

 

Even with this frustration, replaying a level from the beginning (again and again) is somewhat dulled by the great presentation. (You can skip the cutscenes by simply pressing the "Z" button.)  VJ is one good-looking game, with plenty of small touches to appreciate.  For example, when Viewtiful Joe runs out of VFX power (after intensive use) he reverts back to regular Joe (until the power meter refills) and the screen takes on a noticeably blurred and scratched look, as if you’re watching an old film.  When Viewtiful Joe returns, the screens snaps to clarity.  It’s a fantastic touch.  But all this style comes at a bit of a cost.  At times, VJ moves so fast you’ll have trouble discerning what you’re doing – a small point admittedly, but worth mentioning if you suffer photosensitive seizures.

 

Viewtiful Joe is a great game, filled with the sorts of hybrid action and challenge that has been in short supply these days.  It manages to be fun, too, which is always a plus.

 

- Omni

(October 26, 2003)

 

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