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Viewtiful Joe 2

Developer: Clover Studio | Publisher: Capcom
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/18/04 | Genre: Action

One of the biggest surprises this generation for Nintendo's GameCube was Capcom's Viewtiful Joe. A highly stylized action game that featured outlandish visual effects, a quirky super hero star and gameplay tweaked to perfection, Viewtiful Joe garnered quite a following. The game's unrelenting popularity has now inevitably lead to a sequel in Viewtiful Joe 2. Can Joe's new adventure possibly be as exhilarating as his first? Well, let's take a look and see...

Viewtiful Joe 2 is immediately eye-catching. The game's visual style, just like the first game in the series, is completely in-your-face. The designers and artists have taken cel-shading to a level far beyond what other teams have done. Joe's crazy character design is very unique and the worlds through which he romps are equally diverse and entertaining. Spectacular visual effects break through the TV screen and slap your face from the moment the game begins and they don't let up until it's all said and done. Enemy designs are a little bland, but other than that, the game looks incredible. Undoubtedly, the cartoon style graphics will turn some gamers off, but if they give VJ2 a shot, the gameplay will hook them and never let go.

VJ2 looks dazzling and fresh, but the gameplay is a throw back to the glory days of yesteryear. Bringing back some classic platform action from games of old, Viewtiful Joe 2 is sure to capture the heart of anyone who gives the disc a spin. Not content with classic beat 륭 up action and jumping antics, the developers stylized the game by adding in cool features that allow Joe and his girlfriend Sylvia to control time and devastate enemies. Many of these powers (VFX powers) were available in the first game such as slowing down time for more powerful blows, or speeding it up to avoid hazards and put out flames. Also, the game forces you to use strategy as Joe and Sylvia have very different sets of moves. Depending on the situation using one over the other could make all the difference in the world.

The game is quite challenging so mastering the VFX powers is crucial to your success and overall happiness in life. The game demonstrates a thorough knowledge of solid design on the part of the developers at Clover as the boss encounters require you to use the VFX powers smartly. That is, each element of gameplay has a function and when used properly enhances the experience greatly. Not many games out there today show the kind of forward thinking that VJ2 does.

The characters in the game are immediately likable and some humorous dialogue and decent voice acting help bring Joe and Sylvia to life. Even the boss characters are given vibrant personalities. I liked some of them so much that I felt rather guilty about putting the big hurt on them. The cleverly written script and odd characters will stick with you and help immerse you into Joe's zany, Hollywood-esque world.

While most of your time will be spent thrashing baddies in incredible new ways, the game also serves up a fairly sizable chunk of puzzle solving. Unfortunately, the puzzles were frequently very abstract and difficult to figure out. Sometimes this can get not necessarily frustrating, but just plain boring as you wander around a small area with absolutely no idea what you're supposed to do to advance. This was by far the biggest fault in the game. A bit more direction would have solved the trouble, but it just isn't there. Thankfully, the fast-paced action sequences far out-weigh these mind-numbing experiments in puzzle-solving gone awry.

Overall, Viewtiful Joe 2 looks and plays a lot like the first game and that's most definitely not a bad thing. A worthy sequel that delivers more insane visuals and frantic action in its first stage than some games have altogether. If you're looking for a great gameplay experience with a fresh twist, I highly recommend this game. Even if you don't like the visuals at first, I'd be willing to bet that if you gave the game a try you'd end up loving it.

By Ryan Schaefer - 03/22/05
ESRB Details: Cartoon Violence
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Screenshots for Viewtiful Joe 2

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