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Some games just scream quality at you. Viewtiful Joe is one of these games. Before you even pick up your controller, before any buttons are pressed, you know this is going to be some seriously good stuff. There’s so much energy, life, polish and fun contained in the few seconds before the title screen it is actually physically impossible to walk away.
And you can’t fail to recognise it. VJ looks sweet - far, far too sweet for us mere mortals. Just look at the screen-shots - beautiful. Then watch a video - wonderful. Then buy the game - amazing. Set off with great effects, an unfaulted attention to detail, and incredibly simple yet surprisingly complex gameplay - it’s all good.
The game is basically a 2D, side-scrolling beat-em-up. “Oh,” I hear you moan, unimpressed. But it’s so much more than that.
You play as Joe - who’s girlfriend, in a deliberately lame plot, is kidnapped by the dwellers of movie-land. Captain Blue, Joe’s favourite movie super-hero, is getting on a bit - so he gives these super powers to Joe, so he can rescue the girl himself and save the world from various evils. (Hence why the game takes the form of a very dodgy superhero B-movie, you see.)
You’ve got a punch button, and a kick button. That’s it. But you’ve also got your super-special super-powers.
The three powers you get, during your transformation into Viewtiful Joe (complete with THE best catchphrase ever. Ever ever ever) are:
- SLOW - obviously, you slow down time. Your attacks are stronger, you can dodge (or punch back) bullets, slow down helicopter blades and make tiny water drops massive drips.
-MACH-SPEED - obviously, everything goes really fast. You beat the bejesus out of everything in a flurry of fists and whizzy ‘fast lines’. On-screen things happen quicker. Do it for long enough and everything sets on fire. Like, totally ‘whoosh’
- ZOOM - obviously, you zoom in on Joe. This is for special moves and can be combined with slow or mach-speed - when you’re surrounded, this is your buddy - complete with whirly pink bits.
Gimmicks these are not - faced with so many brilliantly designed, deadly enemies, you’ll need every one. Make good use of them, complete with dextrous dodging, good-timing, and eye for an opportunity and a little luck - and you’ll rack up Viewtiful combos. These earn you tokens, which can be used to buy new moves between scenes. All very, very nice. And you’ll need them powers to complete the cunning puzzles that break up the fighting very nicely.
This, despite all outwards appearances, is not (absolutely not) a kid’s game. I doubt they’d even get past the training level. Seriously - the easiest difficulty is a firm challenge for any gamer. And yet, here’s the good bit, you’ll never get annoyed at it. It’s actually impossible to be annoyed with VJ, such is his juiciness. You just get back on the wagon and give it another shot, then another - until you’re done.