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Developer:
Clover Studio
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: PlayStation 2
Release Date: December 7, 2004

by Jim Freedan




Ever since Street Fighter II, Capcom has been the industry leader when it comes to creating 2D fighting games, so it comes as no wonder that Viewtiful Joe II has much in common with fighting games. Largely inspired by the Japanese live-action "henshin" TV genre, the Viewtiful Joe games have proven costumed superheroes can make for a rewarding game experience if the game is willing to not take itself so seriously.


Gameplay: A+


Viewtiful Joe's gameplay can best be described as a combination of Mega-Man and Street Fighter, but with a few twists. Joe's VFX powers of Slow, Mach-Speed and Zoom return but the biggest change has been to Silvia, who has gained a pair of blasters and a unique VFX power called "Instant-Replay" that lets her perform a single move three times in a row. The other big change is that Silva is now a controllable character from the start who can switch places with Joe in a fashion similar to the "Tag Team" matches of Capcom's many team-based fighting games. Switching between Joe and Silvia is necessary in order for the player to complete puzzles and defeat certain enemies.


As in the original game, the player earns Viewtiful points by collecting coins and pulling off chain-combo attacks on enemies, so that the player can purchase upgrades for the characters which give them new powers and abilities. What is amazing aboutViewtiful Joe 2 is that you don't get bored earning points in this game because it can be more fun killing minions left and right than fighting the bosses. This isn't to say boss battles aren't enjoyable, because they are. The Viewtiful Joe series makes a return to the classic platform side-scrollers. Viewtiful Joe is a throwback to days when gamers were expected to recognize patterns to exploit weaknesses in their enemies, and only those who mastered timing were able to complete the game. As with classic platformers, all enemies in Viewtiful Joe II can be defeated with relative ease once you master the proper strategy for defeating them, though it might take a player a few tries before they recognize enough of the patterns to let them defeat some of the bosses.


There has been some criticism from the younger generation of gamers that the Viewtiful Joe games are "too hard". The truth of the matter is that the majority of video games released today are relatively easy compared to older platformer games, to the point the original Super Mario Bros. will pose a challenge for them. The Viewtiful Joe series is a much needed return to the old-school way of doing business, and is part of the reason why it has enjoyed so much success in the States.


As in the previous game, Viewtiful Joe II has tons of bonus features, complete with unlockable characters and levels. For the hardcore gamer, Viewtiful Joe II has enough replay value to occupy you for quite some time.


Graphics: A


In a market where almost everything being released is in 3D, it is good to see that a big boy like Capcom is still willing to give a shout out to 2D platform design. The cell-shaded graphics fit the comic book-like world nicely and really helps to pull the player into the game, and there is a surprising amount of detail put into not only the characters, but the backgrounds as well. Most American gamers won’t realize it, but the majority of the special effects are based on the "Henshin" type of Japanese superhero movies, and if you’re a fan of those series you'll really appreciate how much tender-loving care was showered on this game.


There are a few clipping issues during cutscenes, but they are barely noticeable at all.


Music/Sounds: B+


The majority of the music, sounds and voices have been recycled from the original Viewtiful Joe game. This said, I really can't complain. The voice jobs are better than what usually pass for localization jobs, and aside from a few bad dialogue spots in the cutscenes, they don't get too annoying. I like the heavy metal-inspired background music; it fits nicely with the theme of the game. Also worthy of note, no matter how much action is happening onscreen, none of the sounds become overly annoying or distracting.


Final Thoughts


While I'm sure Capcom will eventually pimp out the Viewtiful Joe franchise like they do everything else (rumor has it they are preparing to release a Viewtiful Joe fighting game, ugh), Viewtiful Joe II is a solid game, so let's enjoy the fun of the series while we can.


Final Grade: 92%




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