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Viewtiful Joe 2 (VJ2) is the sequel to the impressive VJ, and is available on PlayStation 2 and Gamecube formats. It was developed by Clover Studio and published by Capcom with a 12 Certificate. As before the game adopts an old school 2D side scrolling beat-em-up appearance. VJ2 is an action packed platformer. This particular review is of the PlayStation 2 version of the game.
The game starts off where the original ended. Gedow have attacked the peaceful Movieland. This is in a bid to capture the Rainbow Oscars, which are statuettes that hold the power of happy endings. It is Joe and his girlfriend, Silvia, mission to stop Gedow and their evil intentions.
Once again like its predecessor, the graphics are in a cel-shaded form and look cool. The characters look very impressive in their comic book style. Backgrounds are all very detailed, and it is always clear what movie setting a particular level is using. Thankfully slowdown is kept to a minimum.
In VJ, Joe was the character that players used to progress through the adventure. Now players can switch between two playable characters Joe and Silvia at any time with Viewtiful Touch, by simply pressing the R2 button. Viewtiful Touch in principle sounds fantastic, but in reality you will play as just one character (most likely Joe), and only switch to the other hero for a particular puzzle/fight and then revert back again.
Unlike Joe, Silvia does not use punches and kicks as attack moves. Instead, the pom-pom wielding Silvia uses laser pistols that prove useful if you need to dispatch of enemies from afar. She also benefits from moving much faster than Joe.
The three VFX Powers were one the great original ideas that VJ used to really provide a truly unique gaming experience. This time there are four kinds of VFX Power to use to progress through the game. The VFX Powers in VJ2 are:
(a) Slow allows both Joe and Silvia to slow down time by simply pressing L1 during a gaming session. This power helps to dodge enemy attacks, reflect bullets back at adversaries, and when foes are dizzy you can punch them high into the sky.
(b) Mach Speed Joe is the only character that has the ability to pull this off. For instance press R2 and Joe will go at ultra fast speed where he can turn into Fire Joe meaning that fire obstacles cause no harm.
(c) Zoom after pressing the right analogue stick or circle button Joe or Silvia are given the ability to pull off special moves such as a spinning kick.
(d) Replay a power that only Silvia can use allowing her to build up an electric charge and repeat her last action. On the one hand this may be to inflict triple damage on attacking enemies, but on the other for the less cautious gamer you may cause Silvia to be dealt three times the harm. Bear in mind that this power tends to suck up a great deal of the VFX Gauge, the bar at the top of the screen that allows players to use VFX Powers. When this Gauge runs out Silvia (or Joe when using the other powers) reverts back to a non-hero form and may take a lot of damage whilst waiting for the Gauge to refill itself. Later levels require players to combine the powers and speedily switch between characters, which sometimes proves hard to figure out.
VJ2 like the original before it has various locations to experience, such as underwater, outer space, snow level, ancient Japan and more besides. All the levels feel different and offer their own unique challenges in the form of demanding puzzles. As with VJ, the game is structured as acts with scores given after one completes a section of an act.
Thankfully in this sequel it is just as straightforward to manage Joe/Silvia with the easy to utilize control system, which responds quickly to your next move. This proves vital as you defeat the vast array of enemies that feature including outer space hit men, big dinosaurs, clockwork ninjas, kinky nurses and many more.
Players will collect V-Points that allows one to buy upgrades, new attacks and additional lives. This adds a slight RPG element to the gameplay and you will have to choose what upgrades are essential to help at a given moment.
--------Sound and Music--------
VJ2 sounds virtually identical to the original. For example some of the music is a remix from VJ1 tracks. This is not too problematic as the music fits nicely in this overdramatic, weird and wacky game world. Sound effects from the first return such shattering metal as you defeat foes, large explosions, a whoosh like sound when using the slow power and cheers. The dialogue can be rather cheesy at times, but luckily on occasions some of the lines used are humorous.
One suffers from a great sense of déjà vu when playing through VJ2. This is because we have seen so much of what VJ2 offers in the original game. Do not get me wrong both games are great, but owning both is not necessarily essential.
The same problems of the original are true of this sequel. It is short and can become a little repetitive at times, has no multiplayer and occasionally can be infuriatingly difficult to progress. First time players should complete the game in approximately 10 hours, which for some will not be nearly enough. A nice inclusion would have been a co-operative mode allowing two players to play, one as Joe and the other as Silvia.
VJ2 is a very good game, but the gameplay enhancements do not really warrant buying the game if you already own the original, unless of course you are a die-hard fan. Newcomers to the series will get to play a game with great style, top graphics and have a real challenge mastering the world of VJ. Unfortunately veterans will have seen all this before and tire of the repetitive nature of enemies, especially the boss fights as the game nears its final stages.
- Graphics: 8/10 exactly the same as VJ, meaning they are very highly detailed and quirky.
- Gameplay: 8/10 if its not broke do not fix it seems to have been the approach of the developers. VJ2 is great fun to pick and play, and controls like a dream. Nonetheless it would have been great to see some more original features to really enhance this game to a must have purchase.
- Storyline: 5.5/10 really uninspiring stuff, but the game has a movie theme that it does utilize throughout to set up the variety of level locations.
- Sound: 7/10 for the most part VJ2 does a good job in this category. The music and sound effects will not appeal to all, but do fit in well with the peculiar VJ world.
- Longevity: 8/10 the game is longer than VJ, which must be regarded as a plus. Additionally there are some unlockables such as harder difficulties and bonus levels that await those who enjoy completing games fully.
Final Score: 7.9 out of ten
Here we go again - Joe is back....and this time around he has brought his girlfriend Sylvia to join him permanently by his side. For those of you who haven't heard of this series of games, you might like to check out my review on the first one and you can get an idea of the style of the game as I wont be covering it in as much detail here.
Firstly, the sequel to the original (cleverly titled Viewtiful Joe 2) could be mistaken for being a carbon copy of the original in terms of graphics. The same mixture of 2D/3D images and cell shading are present. Some may find this a disappointment, but I prefer to think of it as a pleasant continuation of a unique style. Much like these visuals, things may appear to be the same, yet they are definitely not.
The first thing that you will notice is that Joe is not alone any more. His girlfriend Sylvia can be called upon whenever you like and can be switched in real time. Not only does this function allow some completely new abilities (more on those in a minute)but it is sometimes necessary to solve certain tricky puzzles in the game. Both of the characters have certain benefits. Joe is immune to fire after using Mach speed on objects/enemies for a small period of time and has the zoom-in and slow motion functions. He also still uses the same moves in the previous game with the addition of a throw and a upgradable team attack when the two characters switch. Sylvia looks just as Viewtiful with her pom-poms and guns. That's right....Sylvia can unload balls of energy from her guns. Who said guns were for blokes? She is also immune to electricity on activating the new function that only she can use - Instant Replay. Once activated, if you hit any enemy, it will be replayed and do 3 times the amount of damage immediately. The bad thing is that if it is activated and the enemy hits you, it will hurt you 3 times as much. Ths new function means that Sylvia cannot use the Mach Speed function as it is replaced by Instant Replay.
The addition of a new character with specific abilities is a very welcome addition as it bings more chances for creative enemy bashing and looks twice as cool. However, I still prefer to use Joe as I am a lot more conscious of how to control him in the best way. The new Replay function is effective, but it does use a lot of the V gauge in using it.
The length of the game is noticably a lot longer as well and will add around 2-3 hours of gameplay compared to the first installment. A water level is a new addition as well in which you can use Six-Machine (portable transformable machine) as a submarine/drill. The boss' are just as sneaky and crazy which is always a pleasure as they do also make you laugh. Given this, the difficulty can be sometimes infuriating, but in a good way. I challenge you to try and not shout your lungs out at the screen when a certain boss pummels you into the ground every single time. When you beat him/her, you will feel quite happy indeed.
Even after you complete the whole game, more difficulty settings are unlocked and a new mode is the 36 Chambers of Viewtiful. These are mini challenges that you can complete when you are not playing through the story mode. They are very hard indeed and require a lot of dexterity and reaction times. I've only completed half of the challenges and it was no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination.
Overall, if you enjoyed the first game, then this will be just as much fun and probably even more given the new additions. Whilst the core gameplay is still in tact, it does feel like a different adventure. I would recommend that you play the first one before this one though as you will enjoy it a lot more - quite a few inside jokes and 'possible' re appearences by enemies. Enjoy!
I must admit I did not play the first game so I stated playing this with no preconceptions apart from the fact that I had heard a few words of praise for the original Viewtiful Joe (VJ for the rest of this review)
The lead character in the game is VT who is clad in a tight red suit which leaves little to the imagination and the same can be said for the other character in the game his girlfriend Sylvia.
Basically what you have is a good old fashioned brawler of a game however it comes with some excellent effects and fight scenes.
The controls are easy to master and this was one of the things that I liked most about the game. It is tough to master but everything looks so smooth and controlled that once mastered it is a pleasure to play. You have three basic powers of Slow, Mach Speed and Zoom and it is these that you use to wipe out your enemies. Combo moves are easy to master and you can switch between characters for maximum effect as the two can combine to wreak even more havoc. I will not give it away as part of the fun is finding out for yourself.
If I have one small criticism it is that you end up fighting the same enemies all the time which can become a bit repetitive. Also teh same bosses appear again later in the game so there is a slight sense of deja vu.
On the plus side you do have to be able to master two characters to be able to complete the game as a weakness for one is not the same for the other, for example VJ is fire resistant in mach mode whilst Sylvia des pretty quickly when on fire.
Another strength is the range of levels that the adventure takes place in that provide a constantly changing challenge for the player.
Definately a game worth checking out especially as you can pick it up for £9.99 on Play.com at the moment.