Title: Viewtiful Joe
Developer: Capcom's Production Studio 4
Publisher: Capcom
Date Published: October 7th, 2003
Platforms: GameCube, PS2 (2004)
ESRB Rating: T for Teen

A game announced November 14, 2002 in development by Capcom's Production Studio 4, directed by Hideki Kamiya, scheduled for release in Spring 2003 on the Nintendo GameCube, eventually released in Fall 2003. The game was re-relased on the PlayStation 2 in the Summer of 2004 with a few minor bonuses.

The game centers on an ordinary movie buff Joe that becomes a superhero named Viewtiful Joe, after his movie hero Captain Blue is defeated and his girlfriend Sylvia is kidnapped. The game has a very unique style, in that it is a 2-D side-scrolling action game, with a cel-shaded look. The settings use various drawing techniques used in comics, such as hashed shadows, giving it a hand-drawn feel. It is based on the style of American comics. Using your super powers you defeat your enemies, and are awarded points for your 'style'.

The gameplay revolves along a few simple mechanics:

  • Enemies typically approach on foot and attack you "high" (usually a punch) or "low" (usually a kick). On Kids, Adults and V-rated difficulty settings, a skull will appear before the attack to alert you of the type.
  • The Player can duck high attacks by pressing down, and hop over low attacks by pressing up.
  • When enemies miss on their attack by one of these methods, they become dizzy and see stars. At this point they are vulnerable and become easy targets.

Fights involve dodging, and then killing enemies in turn while they are stunned. Throw in some jumping attacks and a few special moves and you have a pretty good idea of the basic gameplay.

Joe also has a VFX bar that continuously replenishes. When it passes the first mark (about 4 seconds) he transforms into Viewtiful Joe. As you progress through the game, you learn powers that you can use in this form.

Some powers are:

  • Double Jump: You can jump again in mid-air, reaching higher than you would normally.
  • Slow: Matrix-style slowing, similar to Max Payne. This causes you to do double damage.
  • Zoom-in: The screen focuses up close on your character. This allows you to do even more damage with special punches and kicks.
  • Mach-Speed: Allows you to move quickly, and even be in multiple places at once.

All these powers except for double jump drain your VFX bar, and if it runs out, you turn back into normal Joe, who takes double damage.

There are various things to collect in each level:

  • Film Reel: Collect 50 to extend your VFX meter (and how long you can use your powers for).
  • Coins: Collect to use in the store at the end of each level
  • Cheeseburgers, Combos: To regain lost hearts (life)
  • Keys: Used to unlock doors
  • Free lives

Two times in each level you have the chance to visit a store to buy extra hearts, lives, weapons (Voomerang) and special moves (Red Hot Kick).

There are 7 levels, and each level is broken up into scenes. Each scene has an objective (get to the flag, defeat all enemies, etc.). At the end of each scene, you are given a ranking for speed, defense, and V-points (how many special moves you use. You are given summary grades at the end of each level and the game.

"If he can't do it, no one can!" - Tagline from demo video

The game received many favourable reviews upon release, and achieved moderate sales. Highly recommended, the game's script is both satire and homage to the blockbuster movies of the 80s and previous games (Alastor). With 4 difficulty modes and unlockable characters that play differently, there's plenty to enjoy. A sequel has been announced for release in late 2004 on GameCube and PlayStation 2.

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