Gamestyle Archive Intro: what we think is another writer debut with Arron Hanley who tackles the sequel to a much-loved classic. Can Viewtiful Joe deliver on the PlayStation 2?
Gamestyle fancies a challenge, although it’s rare to find a challenging title that is also enjoyable. It’s fair to say that we weren’t disappointed with Viewtiful Joe – originally released on the GameCube and a format exclusive until Capcom decided to bring the cries of ‘Henshin-A-Go-Go Baby!’ to the Playstation 2, via the colourfully-titled sequel, Viewtiful Joe 2. The original game saw you fighting your way through levels attempting to rescue your girlfriend – who wasn’t controllable at the time – however, Capcom have now teamed Joe and Silvia so they can help each other out with the simple tap of a button. After a humorous introductory video that outlines the story, you are transported to a prehistoric setting (don’t ask) dressed as Normal Joe in his T-shirt and cap – and where you’re tasked to recover seven ‘Rainbow Coloured Oscars’.
Both Joe and Silvia return in 3D form (along with the enemies), although the standard backdrops look like pieces of cardboard – hardly a revelation, given that the original game had the critics applauding it. Also returning is Joe’s ‘viewtiful’ style of fighting and his range of special attacks; Silvia however is not a victim this time but Joe’s able companion. Initially, her style of fighting is a simple kick and extendable boxing glove (thus ensuring she won’t break any nails), however as you progress both will receive their hero suits and be ready to take on the new villain. Although Joe doesn’t have any specific moves at first, his Viewtiful style is soon upgraded with even further moves. The game is straightforward: beat up enemies and bosses, jump, dodge and continue forth. However, this simple formula requires that you perfect your timing and moves. The game has some very simple puzzles but they can become frustrating – timing is the key here, as some of the puzzles require you to switch between Joe and Silvia in order to progress. Joe can use his powers to slow down time, and this proves effective in many ways (such as increasing the power of your hits upon enemies, or simply landing more precise hits).
Any help proves to be invaluable as Viewtiful Joe 2 is not an easy game – in fact, the difficulty settings have been changed to Normal and Hard (whereas before ‘Kid’ setting could’ve passed as easy and ‘Adult’ very hard). The game only has seven levels – or reels, as they are officially known – but they are quite large and will take some time to complete. The levels have varying themes, from the prehistoric beginning (which is 10 million years B.C.) to an ice age, and even a ninja-themed level – all of which look superb, but prove superbly difficult. Each level consists of acts, which are then split into several missions. At the end of each ‘reel’ there’s a boss that you must defeat in order to gain an Oscar; on completion of each reel you’ll be ranked on time and defence, and awarded Viewtiful points for using your VFX and destroying multiple enemies.
As with its predecessor, the trend for using cel-shaded graphics continues. The sharp visuals on each of the main characters (including enemies) look as ‘viewtiful’ as ever, although the levels themselves don’t look to be pushing the Playstation 2 hardware. The environments are appealing and well-presented, with distinct features pertaining to the levels (such as dinosaurs and lava erupting from volcanoes); these bring the game to life, almost as if Joe and Silvia have been caught on film. Capcom have also continued their trend for providing superb sound. The voice acting, the explosions and tunes that are played whilst combating the enemy remain outstanding. Joe and Silvia have real personality, as do some of the bosses (who might chit-chat for a while and provide some light relief). However, despite the comic book explosions and madcap music, all of this was replicated in the prequel – so it doesn’t really bring anything new to the player.
While Gamestyle enjoyed the challenge that Capcom threw at us, we couldn’t really spot the differences from Viewtiful Joe (bar the new adventure): it has the looks, style and sound of the original, but doesn’t make it any better nor worse. It’s simply more of the same, and gamers who have played the first one will know what to expect (although newbies may be put off by the revised difficulty). As a bonus, players can unlock the ’36 Chambers of Viewtiful’, a side-quest that will take even longer to complete. Gamestyle thoroughly enjoyed Viewtiful Joe 2, but it was nothing new to us. Slightly easier this time around, with the same energy as before, but not enough to reinvigorate the series.
Gamestyle Score: 7/10