Viewtiful Joe is a 2d platform beat em up game that focuses on Joe, a pop culture and movie nerd who becomes a superhero to save his girlfriend Sylvia. She is kidnapped at the movies while on a date with Joe, by a group called Jadow. Jadow is led by the movie’s antagonist and Joe gets transferred into the world of movieland.
(lots of over the top action in this game)
The game is divided into 7 stages or as the game refers them as “Episodes” with movie styled cutscenes. Each stage of the game is based off a famous movie and there are many pop culture references, especially from comic books throughout the game. The story is filled with not just Tokatsu references back in the 70s and 60s but a good amount of Marvel/DC references as well. Each of these stages have missions that must be completed in order to progress to the next stage. Once you’ve reached the end of the stage, you have to defeat the bosses and each of them requires a unique strategy to beat them. Throughout the game, Joe is mentored by the movie’s hero Captain Blue on how to be a superhero.
(VFX in action)
The voice acting was really cheesy and so was the dialogue but it just all works and even enhances the game. The musical score was lively and uptempo. The cel shaded comic book style graphics looked really good and so did the vhs visual effects as well. The level designs were unique and very creative. The control system was really responsive and pretty tight.
(An example of the 2.5d layout of the game)
You can restore health by finding hamburgers after defeating enemies. Beating enemies in the game grants you V-Points which is used to purchase new moves and enhance Joe’s abilities for example the VFX meter. Using special attacks grants you V-Marks which could be used to be converted into V-Points.
The VFX meter is based on camera tricks used in many live action moies especially superhero movies. It is used for both combat and for puzzle solving during certain parts of the game. This includes but not limited to slowing time down and speeding it up. When the gauge depletes, Viewtiful Joe returns back to his normal form where he is powerless until he recharges his meter. Finding V-Films during levels also helps you increase the gauge for the VFX meter. If you clear the game in each of the difficulties, you can unlock many different characters like Captain Blue or in the PS2 version, Dante from Devil May Cry.
There were some shortcomings to the game. The PS2 version which I've played, lacks the progressive scan that the GameCube version has. In addition, the later parts of the game experienced some slowdown. It can be beaten in just about a day so its fairly short, and could have been more challenging.
Overall, this was a really fun beat em up game which I thoroughly enjoyed.
It gets 4 out of 5 stars.