Review: It's a viewtiful day in the neighborhood...
Viewtiful Joe took the gaming world by storm when it was released in 2003. Capcom took classic formulas and infused them with cutting-edge graphics and next generation technology to craft the year's sleeper hit that left game players begging for more. Well, ask and ye shall receive, my friends as Viewtiful Joe 2 brings back the red-clad hero and his damsel in distress Silvia for more cinema shattering action.
Of course, no sequel is complete without a slew of upgrades and Viewtiful Joe 2 starts it off by giving you Silvia to play with, right out of the gate. Switching between the two characters on the fly adds another level to the puzzle solving of the original Viewtiful Joe as there are certain tasks that can only be performed by one of the two characters. Also, the additional banter thrown between the two characters as they swap places is an amusing touch in and of itself.
At it's heart, Viewtiful Joe 2 is a classic two-dimensional action-platform title. There is a lot of jumping, punching, and item-collecting as you make your way through the many reels of the game. However, Capcom's gem uses the power of the GameCube to push the 2D action genre beyond the realm of 1985. Heck, it pushes the genre beyond 1995 and into 2005. Most impressive in it's execution is the return of Joe's, and this time around Sylvia's, VFX powers. In addition to the Slow, Zoom, and Mach Speed powers that Joe possessed in the original VJ, Silvia throws a Replay power into the mix. Each of these powers adds a little something extra to your attack, causing untold damage and earning you additional Viewtiful points. Combining these powers exponentially increases their effectiveness and using them is effectively is critical to your ultimate success in the game.
Now, VFX powers go a long way in Viewtiful Joe 2 but they are not the only weapons at your disposal. Also back in Viewtiful Joe 2 are the purchasable upgrade attacks. Ranging from stunning kicks to amazing throws to a second gun for Joe's gal Silvia, the upgraded attacks add a ton of variety to VJ2's action. Of course, no action title seems to be complete without a few vehicle based levels and the Six Machine fills that gap in Viewtiful Joe 2. Taking you from high in the sky to low underground, the Six Machine adds a little extra firepower to Joe's fight against the evil Black Emperor.
Much like the original, Viewtiful Joe 2 is full of colors and graphics that literally jump off of the screen. Complimented by a vibrant color palette, the animations are fluid and the VFX powers set the screen ablaze. Viewtiful Joe 2's style is unmatched by any game out there and is a perfect companion to the out of this world character designs that Clover Studio came up with. Throw in an audio package that pleases the ears in the same way that the graphics please the eye and you get a game that is as much fun to watch as it is to play.
Unfortunately for Viewtiful Joe 2, not everything is as perfect as it could be. The game is fabulous but boss battles are often a frustrating matter of trial and error and can become trial for even the most patient of players. Sure, once you figure out the rhythm of the battle you are home free. The tricky part of this is that each boss has their own weakness that must be exploited, a weakness that may take you several lives to fully understand. If you aren't patient, you will easily become frustrated as you have to complete the areas leading up to it over and over (and potentially over, and over, and over?) again. Is it so frustrating that you won't pick the game up and try again? Again, it all depends on your taste in games.