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Viewtiful Joe 2

Hey, up on the screen! Is it a big piece of red taffy? Maybe it’s a Power Ranger! No, it’s Viewtiful Joe! That’s right, boys and girls. Capcom’s latest hero is back once again to administer the ultimate brand of justice on bad guys everywhere. His incredible style of fighting won countless fans when the first game appeared in the Gamecube library. For the first time in ages, gamers were able to experience the mindless fun of beat-em up games, a genre that had long been considered outdated. However, Viewtiful Joe came with a nice assortment of super powers, enhancing the basic beat-em up gameplay beyond anything previous games had attained. And thus Viewtiful Joe took the gaming community by storm, its fans practically drooling for the next installment of the hero’s epic quest. Finally, the sequel has come. But can it truly measure up to the first, a game loved by so many?

When we last left our hero, he had saved his beloved Sylvia from the evil clutches of the villains Movie Land. For a guy like Joe, getting his girlfriend back and saving the day was probably the greatest accomplishment ever. Finally, he could go back into his regular life, stay close to his girlfriend, and watch as many old movies as he wanted. However, this was not to be. Just as things are finally settling down, a sinister presence falls over Movie Land. Its darkness envelops everything, creating fear and panic among the citizens. This new evil entity is called Jadow, a massive army of unparalleled might and resources. Emperor Black, the leader of this powerful force, wants to take over both Movie Land and the Earth itself. Joe must don his costume once again and stop this new threat! However, not even Joe can stand against the destructive power of the Jadow Army. This time around, Sylvia has been granted her own powers, letting her team up with Joe to become the most Viewtiful duo to ever grace the silver screen!

But what exactly can these two lovebirds do? Initially, they look like your average couple. Joe is just some guy with baggy cargos and a formidable goatee. Sylvia looks pretty normal with her blond hair and glasses. However, looks can be deceiving. These two make up one of the most formidable tag teams to ever grace the consoles. Once Joe gains enough pickups, his power gauge will start shining, instantly transforming him into Viewtiful Joe, a super hero with more ass-kicking abilities than your average video game character. He can speed up or slow down time, allowing him to gain the advantage against the hapless thugs of Jadow. He can rack up an incredible amount of damage by fighting in slow motion, creating dramatic punches and kicks not fit for the weak at heart. If he speeds up, you’ll lose track of Joe as his attacks move too fast for the human eye. Not to be outdone, Sylvia comes with her own powers, letting her fight in slow motion as well. Instead of throwing punches, she comes with a handy energy pistol and an itchy trigger finger. However, she can also perform a Replay, allowing her to record an attack and then deal out three times the punishment. There are also a few combo moves included, allowing both heroes to combine their powers for some truly spectacular attacks. Also, both characters can command the camera to zoom in on them, stunning their foes into submission as they look upon the glorious heroes. Those Jadow guys don’t know what they’re in for.

However, this game isn’t just about decimating mindless AI. Just as in the previous installment, the levels of Viewtiful Joe 2 are riddled with tons of puzzles and interactive backgrounds. The solutions of these various puzzles require the use of either hero’s powers. For example, say that there’s a massive volcano being clogged by a giant boulder. Instead of trying to move the massive chunk of rock with your own power, just slow down time. As time comes to a near standstill, the pressure will continue to build in the volcano, creating enough force to eject the boulder. Or, if you happen to catch on fire, just speed up time and allow to hurricane-force wind blow the flames off your body. It’s little details like these that are essential to the progression of the game. The real trick lies with the correct use of the powers. While the abilities of the Viewtiful duo are astounding, they are limited by the energy gauge at the top of the screen. As soon as you activate a power, the gauge starts to empty. Once it’s gone, our heroes will revert back to their normal, un-heroic selves. Since you have such limited time to use the powers, you have to learn how to use them in a timely and efficient manner. Don’t waste too much of your time smacking baddies around, or you’ll end up defenseless in a matter of seconds. The effective super power use and the countless puzzles waiting behind every bend are enough to keep you from mindless button mashing your way through the game.

Despite having tons of new characters, enemies, puzzles, and levels, the game might start to seem a little repetitive. It’s probably due to the fact the default difficulty is a tad easier than its predecessor. After a few levels, it’s like you’re plowing through the same gang of hoodlums, solving some puzzles, fighting the boss, and moving on. Thankfully, this problem is solved by the grading system for each fight. In each area, you’re graded on your fighting abilities. The better grades you get, the more points you’ll receive, which will go toward unlocking new moves for our heroes. Thus, you can spend your time perfecting your fighting technique, allowing you to max out your rewarded points. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can spend all the time you want tinkering with Joe and Sylvia’s powers, creating the most awesome fighting spectacles ever seen. Also, there are a wide variety of unlockable “Chambers” that allow you test your heroic fighting prowess via a series of mini-games. Sometimes you’ll face hordes of oncoming baddies, other times, you’ll be trying to break boxes in the shortest amount of time.With plenty of interesting features, it’ll be enough to hold your attention if the Story Mode goes stale.

But as you’re dealing out high speed and slow motion punishments, don’t forget to look at the incredible effort that has been put into the presentation of this game. Just like the first game, Viewtiful Joe 2 is portrayed in comic book cel-shaded style. Before, we were only treated to the limited vision of Movie Land. In this game we get to take a step back and experience Movie World, a wonderful place that spans across all genres of movies. You’ll get to stroll through a spoof of Jurassic Park, or even get to endure the fiery depths of a Temple of Doom rip off. It’s great to see that game designers put in this kind of effort, though some gamers might not catch the jokes. Joe and Sylvia’s costumes are vibrant and brightly colored. Viewtiful Joe’s classic hot pink cape is back in action, working side by side with his girlfriend’s flowing blond hair. Despite having the same predictable moves and weaknesses, all of the baddies have been revamped with new costumes. However, there is a tiny, minute amount of slowdown during some of the fights. Also, there are quite a few more cutscenes than in the previous game, which are a little more drawn out than what some gamers may like. Thankfully, the majority of the character voices are done with excellent clarity, unlike the garbled mess of voiceovers in the first game. When you counter in the dramatic attack sound effects and the upbeat soundtrack, the presentation of this game is something both new and old fans can enjoy.

But what will become of these valiant heroes? With this game being released alongside some of the most anticipated Gamecube games of the year, Viewtiful Joe 2 has been slightly overshadowed. But there’s little need to worry. Joe and Sylvia have countless fans just itching to get back to the fighting. For those of you that have played the first Viewtiful Joe and enjoyed it, I don’t have to urge you too much to get this game. For those of you that have yet to experience this awesome and truly heroic Capcom character, give this game a shot. While the beat-em up genre may not appeal to some gamers, the lighthearted and frequently comedic approach to this game is something to consider. So for those of you that need a hero, look no further than Viewtiful Joe 2.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

Gentle persuasion

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