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Viewtiful Joe
  opened by paleface at 02:33:26 09/07/03  
  last modified by paleface at 03:19:40 02/22/04  
  paleface [sys=GC; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=JPN]
Unusually funky beat-em-up/platformer from Capcom with unique Jack Kirby-esque cel-shaded visual design, played in delightful 2D side-scroller fashion. Your little super-deformed surfer punk can speed up or slow down time at will, as long as his "Viewtiful Meter" holds out. The screen blurs and overlays while changing time do an admirable job of really making you feel the time warp effect, and most of the puzzles and enemies in the game have some sort of time-warp-related vulnerability: slow time while punching the missiles launched by the first stage's boss, for instance, and they'll flip around and hit him. And let's not forget that Joe is effectively invulnerable while time-warping, what with being fast enough to dodge bullets automatically.
Boss battles are particularly challenging and epic, with the bosses assaulting poor 'lil Joe with multiple attack techniques, many of them quite surprising but each having a weakness which Joe can use to his advantage. They like to pile the attacks on faster than Joe's Viewtiful meter recharges, so if you don't manage it carefully you'll eventually find yourself overwhelmed by waves of assaults coming too fast for you to dodge.
Warping time correctly in addition to the usual punching, kicking and jumping is quite a challenge, and the bosses are no pushovers on their own, so the difficulty here even in the first stage boss is nothing to scoff at. Payoffs, however, are plentiful, in the form of the aforementioned visual effects, Viewtiful meter powerups for Joe, points (more gained by long time-warp combos) spent on buying new butt-kicking abilities for Joe between levels, and so forth.
Uncompromisingly unusual both in terms of visual design (the heavily "inked" 3D backgrounds are composed of many proudly-2D mock-ups, and tend to curve around the player in mindbending fashion as he runs through them) and gameplay. Capcom is taking surprisingly edgy risks lately (see also entry 199, "P.N.03") and it's paying off in great ways for those still capable of enjoying challenging, button-pounding gameplay.
Voices and menus in the Japanese version are completely in English.

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