This game is pretty cool.

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  When my friend showed up at my house and handed me a copy of Viewtiful Joe 2 for Christmas, I can honestly say I was a little bit surprised. Don't get me wrong; I was super excited. I've never played a Viewtiful Joe game, and I welcomed the idea of trying this one out. I did watch some of a Viewtiful Joe cartoon when I was younger, though, which made the plot a bit easier to understand, even though it's been years and can barely remember a single detail. 
So my friend and I exchange Merry Christmases, he leaves, and I head upstairs to dust off my PS2 and start playing this new game. The difficulty choice is between "Kids" and "Adults", so naturally I picked the hardest one of the two, despite never having played this game before. That was a mistake, but we'll get to that later. Anyways, I always like it when a game gives more than the generic easy/normal/hard choices. It gives the game a bit more personality. The next thing that happens is a big cutscene explaining the game's plot. Turns out Captain Blue (super-powered father-figure) got captured, his power is being used by the game's antagonist in the form of a "Blue Oscar", and I have to go collect the seven "Rainbow Oscars" that contain "the power of the happy ending" and I'm thrown by the antagonist into the year 10 million BC. 
I love how everything in this game is movie-related. It's a pretty cool gimmick. The Rainbow Oscars are an amazing name for the game's collectibles, and I love dinosaur-themed levels. This game just got off to an awesome start. 
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  So after this cutscene, I get thrown into a tutorial. I can punch, kick, and switch between Joe and Sylvia. Crouching changes how my attacks work, and I can dodge attacks by pressing up and down. The combat at this point is pretty basic, but dudes seem to take more hits than I'd like (I shouldn't be playing this on hard mode). There's a cool-looking old film effect going on that I like though, so whatever. After a little bit of beatin' weird silver dudes up, I get the ability to put on my super-hero costume. This allows me to slow down time and gives me a double jump (the latter was never explicitly mentioned, I don't believe). Slowing time down makes me slightly faster than my opponents, powers up my attacks, serves as an auto-dodge attacks mode, and lets me PUNCH TANK BULLETS. I like this power. It's my friend. The only downside is that if the time-meter at the top runs down, I untransform. But said meter fills itself back up any time I'm not using my slow-down, so it isn't much of an issue. With the power to slow-down time at my disposal, the game starts throwing some simple puzzles and platforming at me, which I enjoyed. I especially liked one part where I had to jump across falling logs in slow motion. There are also some coins I need to collect while going through, which tend to be pretty easy to find, but not always. Using points I earn for killing dudes and collecting stuff, I'm able to buy various power-ups in-between stages.
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After playing a bit more, I gain the ability to go super-fast. It seems less useful than slow-down, but still pretty cool. Not long after that, I got to the game's first boss, a big drill-tank that also has an infinite supply of minions coming out of it. It kicked my ass. Repeatedly. (Shouldn't have picked hard mode). For some reason, it took me like five deaths to realize that the idea is to slow-down time and punch his shots back at him, not to beat up the dude driving the tank. In my defense, though, kicking the driver in the face was doing a small amount of damage. My incompetence aside, it was actually a pretty cool boss. Depending on how the tank came out of the ground, I either had to speed up or slow down time to keep it from going back under, which was a cool use of those abilities. Then, it was just a matter of holding off the three minions that jumped out of the tank each time it stopped and reflecting the 2-3 bullets that it fired before it went back underground and the process repeated itself until the tank (or myself) died. Even knowing how to do it though, it wasn't easy. Several times I tried to punch the bullet and Joe simply dodged out of the way on his own. I did manage to win eventually, though, and that's all that counts. 
In any case, I'm really enjoying Viewtiful Joe 2 so far. It has several interesting gimmicks that make it unique, especially the time-control powers, and I'm enjoying it far more than I do most Beat-em'-ups. It is one glorious surprise of a Christmas present, and I couldn't be more pleased with it. 
So, what about you Giant Bomb? Any Viewtiful Joe fans out there? How does this game stack up to the original? Are there any differences between the PS2 and Gamecube versions?