Monday, May 07, 2007

Viewtiful Joe Post-Mortem

I have to say that if you're the sort of individual who likes them their innovative 2D platformers, Viewtiful Joe is a particularly good one.

I'm not that guy.

Two levels in and I'm done. That's about how long it took for me to lose all my lives and discover that I'd have to replay the last twenty minutes or so of the game as punishment. The game was mocking me, so I had the last laugh by putting it back on the shelf forever. Take that, Capcom and Clover Studios.

But look, there's a whole bunch of good in it. The game's set inside a movie, and the visual style comes complete with projector flickers and filmstrip-holes at the top and bottom of the screen. You'll basically proceed from level to level busting up enemies and solving puzzles, within the confines of a fairly inane plot that would probably be better if it wasn't present at all. Controls are responsive, moves are satisfying, and the action is well paced.

The game's gimmick comes in the form of "VFX", which are a set of three powers related to cinematography. First up you get a slow-mo power. Attacks delivered in slow motion do more damage and give your enemy less time to get out of the way. Secondly, there's "mach speed", which is basically a speed up, letting you move faster and deliver attacks more quickly. And lastly you get a zoom in, which makes all your attacks more flashy, with wider hitboxes and interesting effects.

Where the game gets clever is how the powers affect the world. You see, when you use slow-mo, you're not just seeing everything going slower. Everthing is actually going slower. Against your average goons this won't be too noticeable, for if, for example, you're attacking a helicopter, you'll soon realise that it's very hard for a helicopter to stay airborne when its rotor is moving at one tenth of normal speed.

There are some very clever puzzles built around this concept, which are interspersed with the action gameplay in a very pleasing mixture.

On top of all this there's a shop/power up system, where you can exchange tokens collected during levels to buy new moves and stat upgrades. In my brief time with the game these felt pretty much irrelevant except for the life upgrades, but I'm really not in a position to give an accurate estimation of that.

Like I say, if platforming is even remotely your thing, you should really play Viewtiful Joe. It probably gets even better past where I got to. I hear the PS2 version (which I played) has all sorts of cool bonus stuff. Me, though, I'm still hoping I'm going to learn my lesson about platformers this time and stop buying shiny new ones just because they're in the $20 bin.


Juffles said...

Let us know how that works out for ya. :)

GregT said...

Well, the next thing I put into the machine was Okami (also by Clover Studios), and I guess that's technically a platformer, in the Legend of Zelda sense, but sweet zombie Jeebers is it full of the amazing. It must be seen and played to be believed.