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Viewtiful Joe 2 Package Art
 GENRE
  Action Brawler
 DEVELOPER
  Clover Studio
 PUBLISHER
  Capcom
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Viewtiful Joe 2

Viewtiful Joe changed the genre of the action brawler. It added countless new inventive features such as slow motion, super speed, and a general charm beloved by many. Viewtiful Joe 2 takes all that and dumps a whole slew of new features, including Joe’s girlfriend Silvia, to complement the already excellent gameplay.

visuals

VJ 2 is a very pretty game. With cel-shaded graphics and tons of effects in a pseudo-3D world, the game shines as an example of quirky stylization. The movie world is very strange with weird chameleons, robots, and all sorts of strange environments. They’re all depicted here in the highest quality of cel-shaded visuals. Everything is colorful, detailed, and whimsically stylized. Joe’s cape and Silvia’s hair flow nicely as they fights, flashing lights and effects occur constantly, and all the flashy punches and attacks look crisp and smooth. No matter how much you work the engine, switching from slow-mo to speedy and kicking the arse of countless droid-like machines, the frame rate stays completely solid-—not a flicker. Capcom’s game is beautifully designed and wonderfully creative. Stellar work.

audio

The cheesy voice acting and lines are presented well and suit the zany nature of the game. Joe’s odd catch phrases such as “Henshin a go-go” are memorable, and are rapidly becoming gaming catch phrases. The music is suited to the frantic fighting. The sound works, but it ultimately isn’t the quality of a Zelda title or other such cinematic epics. It simply fits the game, as do all the sound effects. It doesn’t attempt to create an orchestral experience, which doesn’t really matter in a game like this.

gameplay

In Joe’s strange world, he plays the hero of movie land who attempts to destroy the evil forces that threaten to take over the world. Joe and his girlfriend Silvia must use several movie-related tricks such as replay, fast forward, and slow-motion. Unlike Joe, Silvia is equipped with a pistol, and with an upgrade, she can wield two of them. Silvia also has access to an all-new feature called Replay.

Like the first game, Joe must travel through pseudo-3D, side-scrolling worlds filled with all types of robotic enemies and bosses using his viewtiful abilities to lay waste to the hoards. This time around, he can tag out and let Silvia take some of the heat as she blasts droids with her pistols. The duo must correlate their abilities in many cases in order to progress through levels. Oftentimes, puzzles will require a lot of thinking and much more than a simple slow-motion or fast forward to progress.

With harder puzzles and more difficult enemies, the game’s challenge grows significantly over the first VJ. For instance, there’s a puzzle where an object must be hit on the right and left sides to activate all the switches, and it seems that a Joe slow-mo spin kick would do the job. However, the game requires you to think a bit beyond that. You must switch out Joe, bring in Silvia, and hit replay as you do a spin kick in order to activate the apparatus. Puzzles get a lot more complicated than that as you go along, and the challenge is welcome.

Silvia has some unique abilities compared to Joe. Her blasters give her added range, but they can be a bit weak compared to Joe’s close range assaults. However, if you activate slow motion, Silvia’s bullets will grow in size and pack more of a punch. Her replay ability allows her to record the attack she performs and replay it twice in order to do triple damage on an enemy. Beware when using that feature, however, as you will receive three times the damage if an enemy lands a blow when you activate it. Her abilities can be enhanced by purchasing upgrades in the shop. She can get a second pistol, new kick and punch moves, and a move that causes her bullets to home in and fly in all directions on the screen.

Joe has his usual upgrades—-everything from the first game. He functions nearly identically to the first game, which isn’t a bad thing as his controls are nearly flawless. He retains his moves such as spin kick, slow-mo, fast forward, and all sorts of punches and kicks. Joe has a new ability, which allows him to ignite when in fast forward mode, adding some power to his blows and setting enemies on fire. It also allows him to avoid damage from fire-based attacks. Similarly, Silvia can electrify herself and become immune to electricity.

Boss fights usually offer some sort of unique dynamic (not to mention a significant learning curve and difficulty level--a good thing), which makes each fight original and entertaining. Sometimes it’s something easily visible, but a bit harder to exploit, and other times the vulnerability of the enemy is harder to spot. Either way, the fights are fun and vary as the game progresses.

The only problem with VJ is that it isn’t as memorable of some other action brawlers. It is far and away the most advanced, but something just doesn’t stick with me like, say, TMNT: Turtles in Time. I don’t see myself running through this game every few weeks 15 years down the line. I only recently played through the game and nothing about the levels remains vividly imprinted on my mind. As stylized and well-designed as it is, I simply don’t find it memorable like brawlers I’ve played in the past. Many will probably differ with me on that one, but that’s essentially the only exception to the game that I take. The mechanics, however, are flawless.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Viewtiful Joe 2 is a more than worthy sequel to VJ. Some co-op multiplayer would have been nice, but the game has some superb, flawless mechanics. The ideas presented here are a stroke of creative genius and will surely begin to pop up in other games, hopefully changed and improved. My only complaint here is that I haven’t felt a real connection to the game—-a stinging desire to run back to the controller for more. Once I finished the game, I wasn’t compelled to play through again. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be popping this into my Revolution four or five years down the line to run through the levels again. However, I still pop what I consider to be a more memorable game, Turtles in Time, into my SNES quite frequently. The levels don’t offer anything vividly memorable. The flashy graphics are pretty and dazzling on first impression, but they don’t leave me with an itch to go through again. Regardless, VJ 2 is a stellar title worth owning without question. It is not, however, a classic. You can pick it up these days for around $20. Give it a shot.

final score 8.2/10





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Staff Avatar Patrick Ross
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"Reggie kicked my ass and took my quote."


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