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Viewtiful Joe (2003) review
Exceptional
by RobbieRLH

I remember buying Viewtiful Joe when I was 11 or 12 and having trouble beating the first level. I chalked it up to age, but giving this another punt 12 years on has led me to one of two conclusions: I still suck at games, or this game is hard as nails. I think it's actually a bit of both. Viewtiful Joe (developed by Clover Studios, makers of Okami and God Hand) is a 2D beat 'em up sprinkled with some puzzles and light platforming. Whilst being infuriatingly tough, the game is always fair.  Joe has a plethora of moves and items to use over it's 8 to 10 hour long story mode, and you'll need to use all of them, especially in the second half of the game where the difficulty spikes yet again. Speaking of story, Viewtiful Joe is notably light on narrative, but it was never the real draw. Satisfaction comes in its fighting - in learning enemy's moves and countering them using the game's unique video inspired mechanics including a slow-motion mode, a fast-forward mode, and a focus mode, all of which are also used in puzzle sections littered throughout each chapter. The puzzles aren't particularly difficult, but they provide some variety and utilise the player's moveset well. The cel-shaded graphics look absolutely superb and the character design, from Joe himself, to the bosses (giant talking shark, anyone?), to basic baddies you'll fight throughout, look absolutely fantastic. In fact that's one of the only criticisms I have of the game: it could have used slightly more enemy and boss variety. However despite its relatively short run time and repeated enemies, you'll definitely get your money's worth here. The gameplay never stops feeling satisfying and after hours playing you'll still be improving, and upon completion, can challenge yourself with higher difficulties and different characters to play as (with Dante from DMC coming exclusively to the PS2 version). The characters even have different movesets and in-game quips, which add tonnes of replayability. Fans of beat 'em ups will surely find this in amongst their favourite PS2/Gamecube games and this is special enough to recommend to non-fighting fans too. Stick with it no matter how tough you're finding it - there's nothing more satisfying than taking on a boss you once struggled with, and destroying it without taking a single hit.
«Can’t stop playing»
«Constantly dying and enjoy it»
«Underrated»