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SummaryViewtiful Joe is an impressive form of art that also happens to be a great yet challenging game.
The GoodThe gameplay of Viewtiful Joe (VJ) is not entirely original but its style and execution is. Viewtiful Joe literally puts you in the limelight of the action and although the camera is a flat panning 2D, the characters and enemies are 3D giving a visceral and fleshed out feel of the game. Many believe that side scrolling genre has died a long time ago but VJ restarts it with a shot of steroids. Many development teams understand the limitations of 2D side scrolling but the team behind VJ exploits new strengths behind these limitations by adding a wrinkle or two on the formerly impacted genre. VJ gives a masterful combination of 2D action and cinematic play that is reminiscent of Ninga Gaiden on the NES. Part of this good execution is made by the brisk pacing of battling enemies and solving puzzles. Most of the puzzles are physics based but the physics of VJ are not what you're used to in other games. The game gives you the power to slow down or speed up time giving you the added ability add extra power to that punch or attack several enemies at once. In addition, it can be used to slow down propelling blades on a helicopter or speed up running vehicles. VJ makes up its new rules on how physics works in its world but it works perfectly with the look of the game and those rules stay consistent.
What's really impressive is how the controls play during the battles and puzzle elements in the game. Control is extremely tight but very satisfying. VJ is one of the few (if not the only) 2D side scrolling games that make use of all the buttons and sticks on the Gamecube controller but for some reason it isn't overwhelming at all. Executing VFX moves in the game are intuitive and natural. If anything, it should teach a thing or two to game developers trying to make their complex action games more accessible to more casual gamers.
The characters are memorable as well as the puzzles. Most puzzles are pretty simple but are not tricky or obvious. Some of the puzzles in the game are very original and made me wonder how much they've learned when going back to 2D.
The BadMy only gripe is that it is short. In 10-15 hours you can quickly finish this game. Furthermore, there are no co-op modes or fighting modes to add to the single player story. If you're not an experienced gamer that is used to all the twitchy type action, prepare to be frustrated. There are many boss battles in the game that require precise timing and understanding patterns but overall you should find something to like.
The Bottom LineViewtiful Joe is a good game with an original concept and gameplay. It takes the best of 2D and 3D and places it in a very refreshing perspective in side scrolling.