GAMECUBE REVIEW: VIEWTIFUL JOE 2

One of last year's best surprises was Viewtiful Joe, a game that featured a young man wrenched from his seat in a theater and pulled into a movie where he was turned into a superhero so that he could rescue his girlfriend. Whom it turns out was also mysteriously sucked into the motion picture. Viewtiful Joe was a fun game that had its own unique look and style. The controls were smooth but the game was tough. This sequel is no exception. It's fun but it's challenging. It's not for quitters. It features new characters, new weapons, new vehicles, new moves and all of the same fun and adventure that you have come to expect.

A truly great sequel, Viewtiful Joe 2, incorporates Joe's girlfriend, Silvia into the action. The two playable characters both have different strengths and weaknesses which you will have to exploit in various parts of the game. Switching between the characters is as easy as pushing a button. Unlike some games which have multiple playable characters which are similar to each other, the gameplay is designed to force you to use both of them. It's a real team effort to get through the game, even though there is only one person at the helm. Figuring out when to use each character adds another layer of depth.

One of the first things that players will notice about this sequel is that it looks and sounds so much like the first game. The music has been salvaged although it's been remixed and you'll hear many of the same voices. The hand-drawn graphic look is back and it looks as good as ever. Sometimes there's no reason to mess with success. You'll notice that sometimes reviewers trash a sequel for these same reasons. Why do we allow one game to get away with changing almost nothing for the sequel and yet attack another for doing the same thing? Good question. In fact, it's so good that I wish I had an even better answer for you.

While the press release boasts 40 new enemies, you'll have to fight them over and over throughout the game. It gets a little redundant. My only real complaint about the game is that it could have used a few hundred new enemies.

Joe retains his fighting skills and those incredible VFX powers. Fuelled by VFX juice, these powers include Slow, Mach Speed and Zoom. Slow is a form of bullet time which virtually grinds the action to a standstill allowing you to move about at normal speed. Mach Speed lets you speed yourself up, which comes in handy when you're delivering multiple punches. Zoom lets you increase your size and consequently increases your destruction capabilities.

Silvia uses her pom poms as weapons but she also wields laser pistols and other guns to take on enemies. She can lock-on up to eight enemies at a time to deliver a powerful blow from a distance. Replay is a new VFX power that is exclusive to Silvia. It replays events increasing the value of each action up to three times. You may be delivering a punch in replay mode which will increase its damage threefold, conversely, you may also be on the receiving end of an attack which will inflict three times the damage on you. It takes quite a bit of juice to run these powers so you have to make sure you use them at the right times.

Locations are all over the map. You'll visit feudal Japan, an abandoned mine, outer space and even below the sea where the Six Machine vehicle from the last game turns into a submarine. You can also use it as an aircraft, driller, racer and cannon. The Machine controls well enough but these are some of the most challenging levels next to the final boss battle. Be prepared.

It's hard not to like this game. The presentation is near perfection. It's got a great sense of humor and it's full of personality. The control system takes some getting used to but it's really effective and responsive. You will experience a little bit of slowdown but otherwise the mechanics are sound.

There are a lot of great games on the market this season and Viewtiful Joe 2 is certainly one of them. If you liked the original you'll love the sequel - and we all know that doesn't happen very often. Due to the extremely challenging nature of the gameplay I would have to recommend purchasing this game as it's going to take you a lot longer to complete than you might expect, and who needs the pressure of having to return it in a day?

Click For Media
System: GameCube
Dev: Clover Studios
Pub: Capcom
Release: Nov 2004
Players: 1
Review by Stew XX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
2.0