Viewtiful Joe (ビューティフル ジョー, Byūtifuru Jō?) is a video game developed by Capcom's Production Studio 4 for the Nintendo GameCube. It was originally released in 2003 as a part of the Capcom Five under director Hideki Kamiya and producer Atsushi Inaba. … see full wiki
While sitting back watching a flick on his favorite superhero Captain Blue, Joe watches as a hand makes its way out of the TV screen and snatches his girlfriend Silvia. Joe is soon drawn in and learns that Captain Blue has been defeated and someone must carry on the battle with his enemies the Jadow. Given superhero abilities and transformed into an action hero, Joe ventures into Movie-land to save Silvia. Little does he know there's a lot more to this movie. -summary
Capcom had built up a reputation long before this time as a lazy company, who would milk the hell out of whatever video game title they would strike gold with, by kicking out a horde of sequels and spin-offs. The Street Fighter and Megaman series had spawned I don't remember how many sequels and side series by this point. Resident Evil, Onimusha, and Devil May Cry were receiving new releases with very little changes. It appeared as if Capcom had just lost their creative spark, and we would probably be doomed to their lazy pattern. That is until Viewtiful Joe arrived. I think this was the game that revived Capcom for a brief moment and showed us they still had it in them to create new and original quality games. Viewtiful Joe indeed lived up to the hype, and being able to dominate the 3D world being a 2D game was a damn impressive feet. In any case, I'll go on and speak about one of my favorite games for the PS2 and Gamecube.
The plot follows Joe as he battles through 7 worlds in side scrolling beat'em up style. The worlds are made up of several stages and sometimes they would have a mini-boss to do battle with. Joe begins with no powers at all, but as he ventures through the stages he will encounter Captain Blue, who would challenge him to a quick duel, and when Joe wins, he would earn some new powers.
Joe's abilities are by far the games strongest feature, and I have to say there aren't too many games out there where the game play is so greatly enhanced due to a characters powers. Joe soon learns the ability to slow down time, and battle enemies during slow motion. After dodging an attack, Joe would be able to level opponents with single blows, with various attacks which increases his V-bonus earning him points to purchase items and even new attacks. The second power he obtains is Mach Speed; this allows him to move at super speed and pummel enemies quickly, setting himself on fire in the process. This ability also sends shadows of Joe around the screen to either pummel more enemies or find hidden objects. The final one is Zoom In; this ability allows the camera to move in on a close up, and from here Joe can deliver some very powerful punches and even a kick that hits everything around him. There are different ways to combine these abilities, and even implement larger attacks in combination with the special moves you purchase. None of this is possible without the VFX bar, which is a power gauge that slowly depletes as you use these powers, and when the gauge is empty Joe will return to normal. In this form, Joe is highly vulnerable and attacks do double the damage. The gauge quickly refills over time, and the player can also pick up items to increase the bar or even get unlimited VFX gauge, to extend slow-mo combos for a good while racking up major V-points.
At first, it may seem like a whole lot to learn, fortunately, the game takes you through a short tutorial as soon as you learn these abilities. It teaches you at a snails pace, and after awhile you should have an idea on how everything works. I remember having it all down before the second stage was over, but I didn't truly master Joe's powers and various combinations until after several play throughs. It sometimes felt like I was learning something new on each new game.
The stages are pretty straight forward, with lots of enemies to battle and hazards that can chip away at your life. Thankfully, there aren't any instant death moments where you fall off cliffs or something. If you happen to drop, then you'll always land in something such as lava or even spikes, but you will have to jump right out. Capcom put some effort into the stages though; one stage takes place with Joe flying in his small aircraft in space shooter style destroying enemies, while another one puts you in a position where you have to flip the entire stage upside down to access areas. There's also a few puzzles tossed out there, that will require you to use your powers in different ways to progress. I've heard many gripes on how difficult the puzzles are, but I could never figure out all the fuss because I was never stuck in this game. I thought the puzzles were very easy, but nice additions to expand on the game play.
The game does have a pretty high difficulty, and the boss battles play a huge role in this. If you never played this game before then expect to die a lot during these confrontations. Some of these fights will seem like they can never be won, but after enough practice it's possible to breeze through the entire game without ever being hit once.
At its core, Viewtiful Joe is all about the fighting. It's completely action packed from beginning to end, and it will no doubt give your fingers a workout. Capcom brought their A game putting this one together, and they even added a stage heavily influenced by Megaman. The story is rather basic with saving the girl and everything, but the characters personalities make it fun to go through, and Joe was just one of the coolest video game characters to come around at the time.
The D-Pad performs extremely well, and the moves are very simple to pull off. They either use long button presses in regards to the VFX powers, or single directional pad presses along with a single button tap, such as the Red Hot Kick or the slide. There are no classic Capcom half circle rotations to be found which is a good thing. I never had any problems in this area.
Viewtiful Joe ranges from 2D to 2.5D. The stages have plenty of depth in the backgrounds and the cameras are fixed, but they're never a problem. They seem to move very fluid with little to no slow down. Viewtiful Joe has plenty of style, and I like the comic book look, with dark outlines for the characters that feels manga influenced. The cell shaded 2D sprites are still impressive to me, and the fluid animation, wacky character designs, only adds to what I can think of to be a truly engrossing experience.
The soundtrack is another strong point, with some good pieces of techno music that set the mood properly. However, it's the boss themes that many die hard fans walked away humming to themselves the absolute most. The battle with Alastor is a huge stand out, as it fits with the boss character's style and personality perfectly. The sound effects are worth a mention; the powerful blows leaves a nice little echo going on after they land, and the voice acting appears to be spot on.
Normally, I like to beat games on at least the normal mode and be done with them, but for some reason I couldn't put VJ down though. After completing the game on the Adults level, V-Rated becomes accessible and this is just a harder mode. The thing that makes it so awesome though, is that you begin the new game at full power, keeping all the moves and power ups you purchased plus all the abilities you learned. This doesn't at all make the game that much easier, because there's stronger enemies now blocking your path and the bosses are a little more aggressive. And if this isn't enough, there are also unlockable characters, such as being able to play with Silvia in her superhero form, Captain Blue, and even Dante of Devil May Cry, which I was never too crazy about because the Gamecube version featured Alastor instead, and I prefer him over Dante. In any case, VJ really isn't an easy game to put down no matter how many times it hands you your ass.
Despite the fact these newer systems are running the gaming world; Viewtiful Joe is a PS2 and Gamecube classic that shouldn't be missed. It's made it on to greatest video game list for good reasons, and in 2003 it was regarded as the best action game. This receives my highest recommendation for the action gamer.
-Cool lead character, game play, visuals, replay value, and difficulty
-heh, difficulty for some
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