You've got to love Viewtiful Joe - and to really enjoy this game you've got to really love Viewtiful Joe.

Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble is not for everyone. It's so jam-packed with action that it doesn't have any room to gel. It's so concentrated that it's like eating an Oxo cube for dinner. The combat is frenetic and it's non-stop. It's the combat equivalent of a kart racer. There isn't much of an adventure and the storyline is very sparse. It's a button masher that requires more dumb luck than anything to get through the levels. By the end of the game you will have more control over the situation making another go at it a little more structured - but just barely.

Captain Blue is producing a new superhero action movie. It seems all of the characters in the Viewtiful Joe universe want to try out for the lead role. Captain Blue's idea of auditions are to have the wannabe actors duke it out with each other to see who has got it going on. At the same time the melee fighters will have to complete various objectives as well as navigate the dangers presented in the various platform levels. Some of the levels require you to jump, duck, run, fly, attack and defend - all within a few seconds. There are some platforming stages in addition to boss battles and the collecting of items.

Coin collecting is the most important element of the gameplay. It even takes precedence over the combat since the winner is the person that collects the most coins. In some levels all you have to do is run around and stock up on coins. You are rewarded for beating your enemies and completing objectives but it's easier to just go straight for the coins. There are some levels in which you must complete your objectives before you can move on which limits the free-for-all collecting frenzy.

Another way to get loads of coins is to steal them away from your opponent. You can do this by collecting orbs and then challenging your enemy to a mini-game. There are about five mini-games and they aren't very interesting by themselves but they can pay off big time if you nail them. The orbs can also be used to fuel your VFX powers which include mach speed, bullet time, zoom, which increases your size up to five times, and the ability to turn sound effects into tangible weapons. These powers are more for novelty since you there is so much going on that one power alone can't really help you out, with the exception of slowing time down.

Controls are responsive but since you can't see what's coming next you will be reduced to button mashing and just letting the chips fall where they may. This arbitrary style of combat may not appeal to more sophisticated gamers. All you can do for variation is to modify your moves with the analog stick which you can move in any direction when pressed in conjunction with the special attack button (X). There are up to 16 different characters that you can play as including Joe, Captain Blue, Sylvia and Hulk Davidson. Each of them has different capabilities to explore but Joe is still my favorite. Call me old-fashioned.

I have to commend Clover, the Capcom in-house developers, for being able to keep the art style consistent as well as the framerate steady considering how much is going on onscreen. It's sheer lunacy. A.D.D. kids never had it so good. The animations are great, the colors are vibrant and the music and sound effects combine to enhance the excellent visuals. The graphics have not been upgraded since the last game and some of the characters and environments have been cannibalized from the past. To its credit there are some new characters such as Android Rachel and Sprocket.

The multi-player mode is a little disappointing in that it's not much different than the single-player. It will accommodate up to four players but it can become a blurred mess of red capes, making it difficult to pick out your character. The action should have been toned down and a larger selection of modes should have been made available to enhance the replay value.

Red Hot Rumble is a little too "off the map" to recommend to those with patient, methodical and analytical minds. Loading the game into your machine is like unleashing Pandora's box. You'll either love it or loath it. Keep the aspirins handy in case of headaches.

Preview By Vaughn

Announced for the GameCube as well as the PSP, Capcom is only more than happy to give VJ fans more Viewtiful Joe action. This time it's in the form of a fighting game, which as you may now, Capcom is famous for....Street Fighter...ahem...

Set in the colorful and frenetic Viewtiful Joe universe, you and a friend will be able to to battle hours and hours against each other. However it's not currently known how each of the special powers will work in relation to a 2 player fighting game. Will use of special powers be relagated to a first come, first served basis - whoever uses them first - or will their be counter attacks that cancel the zoom in, speed up power up moves? That remains to be seen.

VJ definitely has it's share of devoted fans who love the 2D sidescrolling action for it's unrelenting pace and asskicking difficulty. We just hope that sticking this game into the fighting genre doesn't result in a loss of magic for the series. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Hey, I think Uncle Ben said those words in the first Spider-Man movie. I guess he was right. Let's hope the developers at Capcom watched it too and took that very important advice to heart.

Stay tuned for more info during this years E3 event!

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System: GameCube
Dev: Capcom/Clover
Pub: Capcom
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review By StewXX