Viewtiful Joe is a stylish action game developed by Clover Studio in which the player controls a comic book nerd turned superhero. Featuring a unique cel-shaded look, Viewtiful Joe uses many techniques previously foreign in the side-scrolling genre, such as the ability to zoom in and slow mo. With a funny, lighthearted narrative, an original art style and fast-paced action, Viewtiful Joe was considered by many critics as a great example of a contemporary 2D action game.
Joe and his girlfriend Silvia are at the cinema on a date. During the movie, Silvia gets kidnapped by the movie's antagonist and is brought into the world of the movies, Movieland. With the help of a robot called Six Majin, Joe is brought into Movieland to save Silvia.
Unfortunately, when Joe enters Movieland, he finds himself powerless to do anything. Thanks to his hero Captain Blue, Joe receives the V-Watch that grants him his superpowers. Since the V-Watch is activated by the phrase "Henshin," Joe coins the main catchphrase "Henshin-a-go-go-baby!" Joe will travel through various stages of Movieland fighting the respective bosses to save Silvia. As Joe continues on his adventure through Movieland, he will discover who the main villain is and the true reason why he is stuck in Movieland.
Viewtiful Joe is a side-scrolling beat-em-up, drawing inspiration from such games as Double Dragon and Final Fight. Viewtiful Joe is a cinematic action game with movie inspired story, setting, and powers. Most levels progress in the traditional left to right fashion and Joe's goal is to progress through the many sections of each level, defeating enemies and bosses and taking care not to die along the way. Joe's health bar is represented by little heart shaped life marks. Any time he is hit he will lose a life mark, and some attacks cause more damage than others. Joe can collect cheeseburgers hidden in stages to restore his life. Each stage has a plethora of enemies looking to take Joe out, a variety of mini bosses, and one final boss waiting for Joe at its conclusion. The game also implements a variety of platforming elements and obstacles, which Joe can navigate with his movie powers and double jumping ability.
Joe goes into battle with his basic punches and kicks which can be mixed up for more devastating combos. Joe can also crouch for his punch, then punch upward to uppercut enemies and send them flying into the air. Joe also has air combos for high flying combat. Defensively, Joe has a number of options. Pressing up and down on the control stick will make Joe dodge low or high attacks. Some enemy attacks show a warning sign letting the player know where the attack will land. If Joe dodges correctly, the enemy becomes dizzy allowing for an opportunity to hit the enemy for extra damage.
Joe can also purchase a number of bonuses in the store, such as the Red Hot Kick attack, extra life, V-Bombs, continues, and more. The game's currency are V-Points which are gathered during gameplay. When Joe performs well in combat he will get V-Marks which are converted to V-Points. V-Points are also placed in stages to collect similar to coins in platformers.
Along with in-game item pickups such as film canisters, cheeseburgers, coins, and colored bottles, there are controller power-ups that will knock out all the enemies on the screen.
When the game begins, Joe is just "Average Joe" and must fight without powers. While he is Average Joe, his attacks are weaker, he takes double damage and he can't double jump. He's essentially useless when not powered up.
However, when Joe meets Captain Blue in the first level, he receives the V-watch. This allows him to transform into Viewtiful Joe. As Viewtiful Joe, he can use special powers called Viewtiful Effects (VFX).
Those powers are:
- Slow - Slows down time. Joe's attacks get more powerful and his reflexes are increased. It's also easier to dodge attacks in this mode.
- Mach Speed - Gives Joe the ability to move at incredible speed. His attacks are a bit weaker in this mode, but because he is so fast, he can still take out enemies very easily. When using Mach Speed, if he punches something repeatedly enough, he can catch on fire and use that to his advantage. He can also create multiple instances of himself in this mode to outnumber the enemy.
- Zoom in - Let's Joe use some new attacks not available in the other modes such as the "Red Hot One Hundred", which replaces his regular punch attack. His kick is also replaced with a spinning kick, which hits all enemies surrounding Joe. When he jumps he launches like a corkscrew into the air, damaging any enemy that may be in his way. If Joe zooms in while in the air, he will do a corkscrew to the ground.
Before he can use these moves, however, he must first learn them by battling with Captain Blue. If successful, he will teach you a new move.
These moves are not only used to kill enemies, but also to solve puzzles. Joe is also able to simultaneously use his powers such as using Slow while zoomed in, or using Mach Speed during Slow in order to move and attack quickly.
As Joe continues to use his VFX powers, his VFX meter will constantly be drained. When the VFX meter is empty, he transforms back into his regular self and must fill up the meter again to transform back. The gauge will slowly recover when Joe isn't powered up. Joe can extend his VFX by collecting 50 film canisters to extend his meter by another small bar. Blue Bottles will "pump up" Joe's VFX for a limited time, and Red Bottles can be gathered to give Joe infinite VFX power for a limited time. Once the player beats the game by getting a rainbow V rank of each level, the player can press Z at the character select screen to activate unlimited VFX.
Beating the game on a certain difficulty unlocks additional playable characters. Each character has unique special abilities.
- Unlocked after beating the game on Adult difficulty.
- Due to her small figure, she is the fastest character and has a slightly higher jump.
- The damage she receives in Viewtiful mode is doubled. Damage in her regular form is quadrupled.
- Unlocked after beating the game on V-Rated difficulty.
- Alastor takes advantage of his sword to take down foes after a four punch combo in his normal form.
- In his normal form Alastor is able to double jump. In his Devil Trigger mode (a.k.a. Viewtiful mode), he can float a bit and slow his descent with his wings.
- Alastor's VFX meter constantly drains when in Devil Trigger mode which the player activates themselves instead of transforming automatically. This means Alastor will be in his normal form for a majority of the game and is susceptible to double damage.
- Unlocked after beating the game on Ultra V-Rated diffiulty.
- While Captain Blue doesn't have a double jump in Viewtiful mode, he has a "super" high jump that's a bit higher than a regular double jump.
- Captain Blue also has the ability to float in the air for an infinite amount of time by holding A.
- Captain Blue loses the ability to see the skull markers that indicate high and low attacks. This makes it more difficult to dodge attacks and make enemies dizzy.
PlayStation 2 Version
In the PlayStation 2 version of Viewtiful Joe, the "Dante & Trish" story mode can be unlocked after completing the game once on any difficulty. Dante is out on a date with Trish at the movies before Trish is captured and brought to Movieland and Dante goes to save her. The same animations used for Joe and Silvia are replaced by Dante and Trish in the cut scenes. Most of the character's dialogue usually consists of random, reversed lines. For Dante, Captain Blue gives him a "Bangle of Time" (same as the V-watch) which allows Dante to acquire the same attire he wears in Devil May Cry, along with his sword, Force Edge and his guns, Ebony and Ivory. Instead of Joe's catchphrase to transform, Dante says, "Devil May Cry's a rocking baby, yeah!" In regular form, Dante wears nothing but his underwear.