Viewtiful Joe

released on Jun 26, 2003

Joe is no ordinary man and Viewtiful Joe is no ordinary game. Capcom's new superhero action game mixes funky cartoon-style visuals with classic side-scrolling gameplay and introduces the world's quirkiest million dollar action hero. More than just any ordinary dude, Joe must transform into the ultimate superhero. It's up to you to activate the correct view mode like "slow" or "zoom in" in order to clobber your enemies with beautiful style. You can also speed up or slow down your visual effects for even more "viewtiful" moves. Viewtiful Joe mixes an innovative viewpoint with an amazing stunt-filled action movie universe.

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My cousin got this game for me when i was a kid and i just did not get it, my other cousins got burnout 3 from him at the same time so why did I get the cartoon game? Now that i'm older I wish I recognize i got the cooler game and wish i could play it again!

Admittedly, writing a review for Viewtiful Joe is hard for me. What can be said about this masterpiece that hasn't been said already? I suppose I could go into detail about what makes the presentation stand out to me.
As time goes on, I’ve grown to loathe the phrase “style over substance”. It’s funny, you think visual artforms such as games, animation, comic/manga and film would be given an immense boon with how they incorporate and utilize grandoise setpieces and flair in order to convey any sort of thematic touches, story weaves, or just cash all in on the bombastic appeal and be Cool As Shit, yet for some reason this tends to get criticized and ridiculed, seen as nothing but a gimmick and crutch for the “real” meat and potatoes of an art… which is ironic when these things are typically used in tandem in order to sell you into the hype and narrative (tip: JP from Redline, the subject of my at-the-time avi, plays a large part into this). Nothing wrong with having to focus on the visuals instead of the other aspects anyway, artforms are all about showcasing different elements and ties to invoke a sense of attachment. “Alright, well, whatever”, say you wanna push aside this petty diatribe, what does this have to do with Viewtiful Joe?
Viewtiful Joe is unabashed as to what exactly it’s about: a loud and proud, Kamen Rider-dripped fantasy, kicking ass while looking Sick As Hell doing so. A project helmed by director Hideki Kamiya and produced by Atsushi Inaba, situated as a creative endeavor to increase the skill and experience of every member on the team, mix the American side of comics and graphic novels with the fantastical element of Japanese superheroes on a 2D plane, and be the second in a line of hitters to promote Capcom’s rekindled third party relationship with Nintendo for the GameCube, which we all know how that turned out. It’s one of the most distilled showings of a dream put onto a game, every trope and aspect carrying out the mechanics and ideas with such aplomb that it’s no wonder it’s attained one of the strongest cult followings amongst Capcom’s various lines of cult hits.
It's from this love letter approach that makes every stage feel refreshing, not only being based on the surface-level aesthetics and atmosphere such as Gothic or Sci-Fi movie genres, but how those and the mechanics themselves are incorporated into puzzle solving. For example, Episode 4 is a play on the Disaster movies, starting out in a sub called the Orca as you try to reach the engine room. Starting off right into the thick of missiles being launched out and in the line of your fire, having to use various VFX powers to guide a remote-controlled lift over to reach the bridge: slow to lower it, mach speed to outpace or put emphasis on the distance between each interval, and zoom-in to break cracks of the sub, revealing openings to hide you and the lift in, all while having to deal with enemies at the process. It doesn’t just stop there, once you reached the bridge, defeat a hulking baddie to nab the wheel, and use it to turn the sub upside down, you then work backwards as you reach the machinery room, each holding now sporting electric gears to avoid contact with, and the very beginning now giving you a secret encounter to obtain more V-Points from. Run across the loading missiles at the right time, defeat another bastion of enemies, activate the lifts from a gate with use of zoom-in kick whirls to do a sequence puzzle, and from there it’s back once again to reach the engine room in tow, with even more hidden encounters becoming available after all’s done.
My experience with these sorts of action games is still on the slim side, but I don’t think it’s wrong to say VJ1 is an entry that hinges more on this puzzle approach than its contemporaries. Every stage builds upon and stylizes each of these aspects as you march along, be they simple or complex to carry off on. Every boss has something to uncover to exploit them, and whether it’s from the VFX powers or careful timing of dodges and/or patterns, gaining this knowledge is part of the charm, especially when they throw in the boss rush at the second-to-last level (one of very few in gaming I don’t particularly mind, at that). It’s as much a puzzler as it is a 2D brawler, and considering a grand majority of them hit - including Kamiya’s designated shmup sequence - it’s a grand slam of enjoyment to uncover.
VJ1 has gotten a reputation for being a hard game, and while true in a sense, its curve isn’t one I’d classify as messy. A lot of it comes down to enemy encounters and design choices, starting out against the most basic mooks while progressively being introduced to harder, more involved and distinctive foes. Do you focus on just doing the slow-mo and whittle them down with ease, or do you use it in combination with mach speed to hop around and establish a high scoring event? Zoom-in can be used for both, do you mix them together at the risk of running the bar dry, or use it alone and take advantage of most enemies being shocked at your moves? Can’t forget about the basics and launches, how about setting up more V-Point bonuses by dodging their attacks, canceling into the punches/kicks, perhaps launching them upward, then go for a slow VFX to start hurling them and/or objects into their direction for maximum gain? Objects such as swords and missiles, and even more casually-reliable items you can buy at the shop such as Voomerangs and the Shocking Pink bombs, can be utilized in a fashion that sets up the battle and state of superiority, and by careful use of the powers, you can be able to obtain special items that can really help you show off. Get the points, use them to buy moves and other upgrades such as health and a life, rinse and repeat. The only thing that’s stopping you, is your limitation of these abilities.
It’s also refreshing to see how earnest and gung-ho Joe is about being given the mantle of heroism. The dude’s a major dork, brushing aside the worries about his girlfriend Silvia until the second-to-last chapter. The moment he sees someone copying him, he makes a snide joke about the loser having to wear yellow. Most of the time when the narrator is saying something important, he’s just thinking about innocuous ideas like what exactly he should name his newfound form as. Ironically, it’s this sense of aloofness yet optimistic earnesty that settled him onto the branding of a hero that his own icon, Captain Blue, has faltered and lost sight of, reveling in selfishness against those that abandoned him at the height of his popularity. Much like with DMC3, the more simpler approach of storytelling gains more weight by not only how the characters are reactive to the revelations, but how the gameplay becomes intertwined and further heightens the drive and bombastic appeal of the package and ordeal. Rather fitting given how bounded Joe and Silvia’s are despite their differences in view and personality, wouldn’t you say?
Much like the people in the hyperlinks I established at the beginning, each time I think of a negative for this it usually ends up being rather minor. I suppose 7-2 could’ve cooled it with the reuse of obstacles and mook rush, but considering this is the penultimate test before the final boss, and by then you’d have most if not all of the moves bought from the shop, there’s room to squeeze some of that hecticness in. I actually wouldn’t have minded more involvement with the stage layout on how you utilize the VFX power, but almost every stage does that to such a degree that I can’t be too upset about it. And much like what Seal said, It’d be nice if some of the boss patterns had more depth to them and didn’t rely on slow zoom-in punches for a quick defeat, but since figuring them out and cinching an opening is part of the puzzle box approach, alongside the fact that the survival against their barrage of hard-hitting attacks are part of the challenge, it’s a pill that’s a bit easy to swallow. I’ve always wondered where my stance on it would be after finishing it yet again, and after seeing how much of a well-rounded and wonderfully made package it is after so long, as well as having to stop the urge to hit a V-Rated playthrough immediately following the first one, I don’t have a problem saying thus far, it’s my favorite action title ever made, or at the very least top 3.
It’s fitting this was the first game by Capcom I’ve ever played, at age four. Couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to one of my favorite companies.

More like a puzzle game than character action. It's cool, just not to my taste.

godDAMN what a video game. I played this game way back when i was a lot younger and stupid and didn't understand action games, so I tried playing it, got my ass handed to me, and then put the game on the shelf for like a decade, not really understanding how the game worked. However, by now I have played enough action games to understand the general idea of the genre, so going back in I was able to finish this game. Despite that, I would still not reccomend playing this game on the harder "Adults" difficulty for your first time. I had my ass STILL handed to me, even with all this newfound gamer experience under my belt. The game is tough. Very tough. So really, as long as you understand action games, and can take the heat that the game serves you, I'd recommend playing this.

It has been a while since I have felt so hostage by a character action game. For context, I played this game about four years ago and was so frustrated by how hard the "Adults" difficulty was that I ended up switching to the easiest one. Going back to this game I wanted to finally complete it on the difficulty I had abandoned years ago. Having a few more years of experience with character action games prepared me well as I felt the difficulty was so much more rewarding.
I won't deny there were parts that I still think were bullcrap such as the Fire Leo fight or sections of the final level, that missile part is so bad. That being said it was very hard for me to put it down until I had a solid grasp of everything the game was throwing at me. When I finally did master a boss fight or move set it made the game so much more enjoyable. I think the problem for me in the past was being unable to admit that this is a hard game that you need to spend time mastering.
Overall I think this game holds up extremely well. Its style and flair are something I have only seen replicated in recent memory and are definitely what I want to see more of. Its love for being a goofy, fun but challenging game is infectious and I love it for it definitely one of the GameCube's best games. Henshin a go go baby and stay Viewtiful.