Viewtiful Joe GameCube
Developed by CAPCOM
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99
The most stylish GameCube games have come not from Nintendo but from Capcom. We've said on many occasions that nobody can dispute that Capcom are the best developers of the 2D beat 'em up games and the latest GameCube title from Capcom is Viewtiful Joe which is essentially a 2D side-scrolling beat 'em up and it certainly looks very stylish. Viewtiful Joe is not simply another beat 'em up mind you and there are many aspects of the game, particularly the graphical effects, that are unique and very enjoyable.
The game begins with our hero, Joe, at the movies with his girlfriend Silvia. They are watching a movie of Captain Blue, a superhero (although Silvia has her mind more on smooching than watching the film). Whilst Joe is being distracted by the passionate Silvia, Captain Blue is defeated and his evil victor reaches out of the screen and takes Silvia prisoner. Joe is also bought into the movie and is told by the defeated Captain Blue that it's up to him to carry the torch of justice. Joe is endowed with a V-watch and thus the gameplay begins.
Viewtiful Joe isn't your everyday 2D beat 'em up. Joe has been endowed with special VFX powers such as slow motion, mach speed and zoom speed. Joe can't use these powers continually mind you, as when he uses any of the powers, the VFX gauge will empty and if it does empty then Viewtiful Joe will simply become ordinary Joe. These powers can be used to great effect though in both defeating enemies and solving puzzles. The slow motion and mach speed effects can be used to manipulate gravity at times and it's quite humorous to see objects fall out of the air when the slow motion is used. The mach speed and zoom powers enable you to do a series of super attacks that can quickly eradicate your enemies.
In terms of gameplay Viewtiful Joe is pretty fantastic but the opportunities to save your progress are few and far between and this will prove a source of irritation with many gamers out there. Saving can only be done when you've completed a level. This wouldn't be a bad thing if the levels were only small but they are actually quite big and it's possible to play for around 40 minutes and yet lose all of your progress as you haven't completed the level. If you are a hardcore gamer and can sit there for hours at a time this won't be a problem, but for the casual gamer this will prove a major stumbling block.
We opened the review by saying this was a stylish game and it certainly is. Capcom went for a cel-shaded look with Viewtiful Joe but not the squeaky clean cel-shaded look that The Wind Waker has but rather a cel-shaded look that's right out of a comic book. Objects have a thick black outline to them and the use of colour is very impressive. The style of the graphics also suits the 2D nature of the game remarkably well too, a 2D game needs flat objects and that's exactly what you get with the cel-shaded style. The only disappointment here is that you can't control the camera. Most of the time this isn't a problem but sometimes it doesn't automatically put itself in a convenient position.
Unfortunately Viewtiful Joe isn't subtitled* and this is quite a disappointment. Deaf gamers will be totally unaware of the plot which puts a massive dent in the enjoyment of the game. Tutorial messages are shown in text though so you'll be able to learn the game without any trouble. There are also plenty of audible clues in the game, such as those that warn of an impending boss fight, that deaf gamers will miss out on because they are not visually shown. The game has quite a few humorous comments and these are also not shown in text either and although this isn't of the greatest importance it still means that deaf gamers will miss out on a good aspect of the game. In short it's not impossible for deaf gamers to play Viewtiful Joe but it will not be as enjoyable, or indeed as easy, as it is for hearing gamers.
Viewtiful Joe is as original as any title that we have seen for some time now. Even though it's a beat 'em up it has the charm to attract gamers who don't really appreciate the genre. The gameplay, like the graphics, is bold and exciting. It's definitely a title that most GameCube owners would want in their collection. However it's not's very deaf gamer friendly and our rating has to reflect this. If you are a hearing gamer reading this review then I would definitely recommend the game and class this as definite 9/10 material. However for deaf gamers it's a different story. Having said that though, it's still well worth it if you're a fan of the 2D beat 'em up genre.
Game Rating: 6.8/10
Viewtiful Joe is one of the most original titles this year in terms of graphics and gameplay. Spoilt only by the lack of subtitles and the large expanses between save points.
In all honesty it's not very deaf gamer friendly but it's still possible to enjoy the game and fans of the 2D beat 'em up genre would be silly to miss out on such a refreshing title.
*Thanks to Tanzil Habib who's contacted us to tell us that when you play with the unlockable characaters such as Silvia and Captain Blue the game is subtitled. At the time of the review I had only played through with Joe which is unsubtitled as stated above. I haven't changed the rating as deaf gamers will have to play through the Joe missions first and these are unsubtitled. Still it's weird that the main game is unsubtitled and the unlockable character modes are subtitled.