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Viewtiful Joe (import) Package Art
†GENRE
††Action
†DEVELOPER
††Team Viewtiful
†PUBLISHER
††Capcom
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Viewtiful Joe (import)

I have to admit it, when Capcom first unveiled their ďCapcom fiveĒ lineup for the GameCube, I had my doubts about Viewtiful Joe. Sure, it looked interesting, but something about it seemed like a gimmick that was thrown together to nab a quick fifty bucks from gamers craving a nostalgic 2D experience. I even had my doubts after I tried the game at this yearís E3. For some reason it had short and tedious written all over it. As I made my way through the demo, I couldnít help thinking about how many times Iíd be pulling off this same combo over and over again. Sure the slow-mo and mach speed features intrigued me. But how long could these gimmicks hold my attention? Even with these initial doubts, there was just something about this odd little package that kept pulling me back to it. So I decided to give the import a whirl, and Iím very pleased to say that I was dead wrong on my initial impressions.

visuals

While itís obvious that the cel-shading fad has definitely come and gone, Viewtiful Joe puts a new and welcome spin on the style. The key to Viewtiful Joe's stylish and unique ambience relies heavily on its mix of different graphical techniques that all come together in perfect harmony. A brilliant combination of fluid animation and bold shading techniques really makes this game look and feel just like an American comic book. A masterful use of parallax scrolling gives you a great sense of depth not found in most 3D games today. To top it off, a plethora of stylish filter techniques really draw you into each of Joeís super moves. For example, when youíre in slow motion, the graphics become dark and heavily saturated making you feel powerful and heavy. When Joe kicks it into mach speed, the screen streaks and genuinely makes you feel like youíre travelling at the speed of sound. If Joe is in his vulnerable state, a grainy film effect is applied to the scene making you feel helpless and in danger. When all of these aspects come together, you donít feel like youíre playing a game, you feel like youíre living an experience.

audio

Audio is definitely one of the games weaker points. The soundtrack is dull, repetitive, and forgettable. In fact, looking back on the game now, I canít play a single tune from the game off the top of my head. On the bright side, Viewtiful Joe features some great sound effects and voice acting. Every punch and kick lets off a perfect and rewarding thwack sound that never gets old. As you utilize your special techniques, a supporting sound effect is always right by your side to draw you even further into your move. Even better, the voice acting is right on par with the exceptional sound effects. Each of the games unique characters features an even more unique voiceover to accompany them. Kudos to Capcom for employing such talent in the sound effects department. I only wish I could say the same about the gameís soundtrack.

gameplay

After spending well over twenty hours with Viewtiful Joe, this title still blows me away. I was originally expecting Joeís super moves to become boring and tedious, but the brilliant designers over at Capcom got the pacing, progression, and variety of gameplay spot on for this little gem. Unlike many recent games, Capcom doesnít toss you into this new world with a barrel full of moves and drab tutorials. Rather they tempt you to play on just a little longer with rewards such as new moves, equipment, strengths, and different ways to complete your many objectives. Viewtiful Joe forces you to think outside the box as they display innovative and intriguing uses of your special powers to topple enemies, complete objectives, and solve puzzles. I donít want to spoil anything for those interested in the game, but I will say that youíll be pleasantly surprised by the broad array of attacks and techniques you can, will, and must create using the slow-mo, mach speed and zoom-in features of the game. Itís the brilliant manner in which they subtlety hint solutions to puzzles and dangle these new moves in front of you throughout the game at such an excellent pace that truly makes Viewtiful Joe a AAA title. I can assure you that Viewtiful Joe does not get repetitive. I can also tell you what it does get, and thatís difficult!

All you gamers out there complaining about how games are too easy these days are about to be put in your place. Viewtiful Joe actually has four different difficulties to master: Kids, Adult, V-Rate, and Ultra V-Rate mode. Kids mode wont post much of a challenge for veteran gamers. However, later modes will give even the pros a run for their money. The game itself will take about 5 hours to complete on Kids mode, about 15 hours to beat on Adult mode, and so on. As you advance through these difficulties, your previous strategies wonít work anymore against the new beefed up baddies, so be prepared for a different experience each time you play through Capcomís Viewtiful little package. On top of that, there are actually five different playable characters with a story and moves of their own to unlock. To actually unlock and beat everything in the game, youíll have to clock over 100 hours of pure fun into this bad boy. That being said, replay is not an issue here.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Viewtiful Joe is not a perfect game. There are some issues with a lack of save points, an uninspired soundtrack, and collision detection on later difficulty levels. These are all very minor issues, by far overshadowed by the pure brilliance that is Viewtiful Joe. This gameís combination of excellent presentation, innovative design, brilliant pacing, spot on play mechanics, longevity, and flat out badass style make this a must own for gamers, if not the best overall title to hit shelves this holiday season. I congratulate Capcom for showing the world that you donít need fancy 3D environments and gratuitous gore to show gamers a great time. In the words of Joe himself, ďHenshin-a-go-go-babyĒ!

final score 9.8/10





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