18 March 2005 | JimD73
Viewtiful Joe 2 Is Pretty Good, But Doesn't Meet Expectations
Game Design: 17/25: Once again, the world is in trouble, this time from an evil organization known as Jadow, led by the Black Emperor, and Viewtiful Joe is the world's only hope. This time, however, he has help from his girlfriend and previous damsel in distress, Sylvia. They must use their VFX powers to collect the Rainbow Oscars and stop Jadow from whatever their plan is.
Oh yay, more cheese, more puns and more slapstick. Everything we've come to hate about movies, everything we've come to love about Viewtiful Joe. The design still works, but it isn't as fresh as it was in the first, and little is done to make it fresher.
The Viewtiful Touch, a new move with a disturbing name, is now used to switch between Joe and Sylvia anytime during the game. The extra character is a nice touch, but when you play the game for a while, you'll realize that you will only want to play as Sylvia when her extra VFX power is needed (see below for more on that power). She moves a little faster (unless Joe is in Mach Speed, one again see below), but attacks much slower and usually weaker. The long range can be handy in some places, but Joe is much more versatile and you usually won't feel the need to switch, unless for puzzle purposes.
Both Joe and Sylvia come with an array of punches, kicks and jumps, some of which are basic, others which are purchased and more interesting. Some can be annoying, such as Viewtiful Forever, which allows you to damage every enemy on the screen, but leaves you immobile and wastes energy. The problem is you often end up performing it by accident, so as a piece of reviewer wisdom, avoid purchasing that power.
However, as impressive as some of the punches are, the main thing that separates this from other side scrollers is the VFX powers. These are special powers which are used to solve puzzles and lay the smacketh down to poor helpless enemies. Both Joe and Sylvia can perform Slow Down, which will slow time and allow for easy dodging, and Zoom In, which will give you a close-up and the ability to perform flashy, powerful moves. Joe's third technique is Mach Speed, which is exactly what it sounds like. The only new ability is Sylvia's Replay, which replaces Mach Speed. This allows her to perform her previous action three times to inflict more damage. It sounds OK, but unless used for puzzles, it rarely comes in handy. Every time you use VFX powers, your meter goes down, and if it is depleted, you become regular people again for a short time. Fear not, the meter replenishes by itself in due time.
This one has much more emphasis on puzzles than the first. Some of these can really be tough to figure out, most of them using Sylvia's replay as much as possible. It makes for some good mind-benders, but at the same time slows down the game play significantly.
My biggest beef with this is the mission involving this Six Machine, the pair's mode of transportation. In the original, the Six Machine mission was a fun aerial shooter. This time, it is underwater with a submarine and a drill, which are alternated using the Viewtiful Touch. It looks good on paper, but doesn't play nearly as good as the original's did, unfortunately.
It all feels good, but it doesn't make enough additions to the formula. It takes what we liked and adds things to it that don't really add anything to it. If they had made it a little fresher and not just tried to make more of the same, it probably would have more appeal.
Play Control: 18/20: As I have stated before, sometimes the game will be stupid and do the Viewtiful Touch when it shouldn't. Other than that, the controls are responsive and easy, aside from the occasional problem with replay, which is rare.
Graphics: 19/20: The graphics are just like the first, a cel-shaded movie spoof. It still maintains the zany feel of the first. The character designs are good, though not altogether creative. Bosses aside, most of the enemies retain the same exact looks as in the original. That aside, the graphics are nice and cartoony, just what they should be.
Sound: 9/10: Good effects, good voicework, good music, and pretty funny. Henshin-a-go-go baby!
Satisfaction: 14/25: If you have already played the original to death, you won't find much in the sequel. It'll be a decent waste of time you should be able to blaze through. The levels won't be too appealing, but the bosses will be fun. This is one case where those who only liked the original might get more out of this, as it will still maintain it's novelty. For real VJ fans, VJ2 will probably wear out it's welcome after a couple weeks.
Total: 77%: This is a pretty good game, I won't lie about that. Its main fault is that it doesn't rise to what it could be. The levels can seem tedious; the new additions aren't particularly appealing; the plot is even more pasted-together than the original. It's still a fun game at heart, but it is, unfortunately, a disappointment.
Addiction: Very Replay: Quite a Bit Difficulty: Very Easy