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MIA - Viewtiful Joe

Henshin-a-go-go, baby!

It’s been a while, but you knew this feature couldn’t stay away forever.  That’s right, it’s about time that we had ourselves another installment of Missing in Action!

For those of you who are new to this PixlBit staple, MIA is an ongoing feature where we pick a game or franchise out of the gutter, clean it up and present it for a current/next generation update.

This week we have a special guest taking the MIA reins in the form of PixlBit staff writer Jon Lewis!

To qualify for the MIA spotlight the game or franchise cannot have a new entry on any of the current generation consoles, nor can a new title be in development, though unconfirmed rumors and speculation are admissible.  The title or franchise must also be served well by a current generation.  As much as some of us love Toejam and Earl, games like that are better off staying in the 90’s.  Too bad Duke didn’t take that advice….

This week Jon presents for your consideration, Viewtiful Joe!

Viewtiful Joe was developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 and released in 2003 exclusively for the Nintendo Gamecube. The game was later ported to the Playstation 2 by Clover Studios with additional bonus features, including the ability to play as Dante from the popular Devil May Cry series.  The Japanese release included the subtitle, A New Hope; an obvious reference to the original Star Wars.

The game tells the story of an average guy named Joe and his girlfriend Silvia. While on a movie date to see the film “Captain Blue” things start to get weird and the film’s antagonist reaches out into the real world and pulls Silvia into Movieland. Joe is then brought into Movieland as well, but at the hands of the hero, Captain Blue himself.  While inside the movie, it’s up to Joe to rescue his girlfriend and to do so, he is given a V-Watch, a device that he can use to become a superhero. Upon saying the (now classic) phrase, “Henshin-a-go-go, baby!” he transforms into the titular Viewtiful Joe.

Viewtiful Joe featured a lot of interesting and cutting edge concepts all revolving around movie effects like slow-motion, acceleration, and even the ability to zoom in on the action. These different abilities are acquired as you progressed through the game, and are not only used in combat, but are key to solving many of the game’s puzzles. Using a combination of hand to hand combat and unlockable movies like the Voomerang, and Red Hot Kick, there was plenty at Joe’s disposal.

Each level progressed as an act that, when completed, graded you on your style and speed which encouraged perfectionists to try and master the combat system. The game also featured many memorable boss battles, like Hulk Davidson, and the Fire Leo that challenged player’s mastery of the gameplay systems at hand.

Viewtiful Joe was released to critical praise, with most giving credit to the unique 3D cell-shaded art style, and the challenging, but fun gameplay. The game sold modestly on both the Gamecube and PS2, and though it wasn’t a commercial blockbuster, it was considered successful enough to warrant a sequal.

Viewtiful Joe 2 was developed by the now defunct Clover Studios  and released in 2004 for the Nintendo Gamecube with a Playstation 2 version following soon after. The game’s plot centered around an alien fleet named “Gedow” that invades Movieworld in attempt to steal the Rainbow Oscars which were said to have the “power of the happy ending”. Viewtiful Joe and Silvia witness Captain Blue get turned into an Oscar by their foes, and it’s up to them to make things right.

Viewtiful Joe 2 didn’t stray too much from the formula of the original, but the addition of Silvia as a playable character added for some unique puzzles and gameplay segments. Players could switch on the fly to take down foes. Silvia also had her own new ability, known as Replay, which allowed her to do triple damage to enemies.

Reviews of Viewtiful Joe 2 were positive, though never reached the levels of praise heaped upon the first game. Still, the general consensus by many was that the game was fun and satisfying. The game again sold modestly, though was by no means a smash hit.

The ending of Viewtiful Joe 2 hinted of a possible third installment, but instead two spin-off titles were created with the fighting game Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble, and the portable Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble for the Nintendo DS. Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble was generally seen as a Super Smash Brothers rip-off and only garnered average reviews while Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble was more true to the first two titles, but sold poorly.

Unfortunately, Clover Studios dissolved in 2007 (don’t worry – many of the developers have gone on to form Platinum Games) and with that the hope that we would ever again see another Viewtiful Joe title began to dwindle.  Since then, the series protagonist has appeared in a short lived anime series as well as being a playable character in the Capcom fighting games Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its expansion, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Seeing Viewtiful Joe in these fighting games reminds me of the great times I had playing the games in the series. With the innovations and power of current generation consoles, a new entry in the Viewtiful Joe series should be a shoe-in. Here are a few things that could help the series carry on with current and next gen consoles:

Utilize HD Graphics: Viewtiful Joe was always known for being visually pleasing. After seeing what Capcom did with Okami HD on the PS3, many of us yearn to see what Capcom other cell-shaded gem looks like on an HD system. Not to mention, the current handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita would do the series visual justice.

Take Advantage of the lack of Mascot Characters: Mascot Characters are much fewer and farther between than in generations past, and Viewtiful Joe was setting himself up to be one of the great ones. His return would do wonders for Capcom and their brand going forward, as long as it is handled properly.

Re-Introduce, and Refine Gameplay: Since it’s been a while since the last Viewtiful Joe, a new entry will not only feel fresh, but it will remind us what makes the series so great. If they could refine the loose edges and add some new and innovative powers, they could do something great. As we saw with the recent release of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, it’s quite possible.

If you haven’t checked out the Viewtiful Joe series, I highly recommend that you pull out a GameCube, Wii, or PS2 and pick up either title or even the DS game which wasn’t bad at all. Have any fond memories of the series? Do you feel like the series should stay dead, or do you want to hear “Henshin-a-go-go, Baby” one more time? Do you have any suggestions on how to make the series better or more accessible? Let us know in the comments below!




02/25/2013 at 12:38 PM

I have the first one on the Game Cube, but it was a casualty of my Gamer ADD and I never finished it. I'll have to dust off the Cube and fix that. Thanks for reminding me about this game!

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 12:39 PM

No problem, it's totally worth the investment. I imagine the game has aged well.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

02/25/2013 at 01:03 PM

Viewtiful Joe (NGC) is my one, and only trade-in regret. I never got to finish the game, and for some reason after not having played it for so long I just couldn't get into it, so I traded it in... NOOOOOOOOOOO! Also P.N. 03, but I don't feel that much regret about it.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

02/25/2013 at 01:08 PM

Man, P.N. O3 looked so awesome when the Capcom Five were announced. I'd love to know what went wrong in the development cycle.

And Dead Phoenix sure did look like a 3D sequel to Legendary Wings. I wish that one hadn't been cancelled.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

02/25/2013 at 01:25 PM

Dat ass! lol

I had to go look on YouTube for Legendary Wings footage because I never heard of it. Damn can I now make the connection. You know what, with the success of Kid Icarus Uprising on the 3DS you would think someone over at Capcom would try to resurrect Dead Phoenix.


02/25/2013 at 01:53 PM

I passed up picking this up several times and kind of reget it after reading this.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 02:49 PM

If you can, I seriously recommend checking it out. If anything a walkthrough on youtube should suffice, just to see what its like.


02/25/2013 at 03:57 PM

1 of my top favourite games evah!!

I was the first in my school to have this for the cube, good times :)

(it's a shame about the 3rd one though game...)


02/25/2013 at 04:52 PM

Viewtiful sort of got an unofficiall sequel through Bayonetta (which is also an unofficial sequel to DMC) but it's still sad Joe's exploits died after only 4 games.

The character represents the era when capcom was more daring and I really miss those days.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 05:13 PM

I didnt really see a VJ influence in Bayonetta, but it was a fun game nonetheless. I really agree that the series was cut short too soon, similarly to Okami (but at least there was Okamiden)


02/25/2013 at 05:30 PM

Not to mention Onimusha. I miss me some Onimusha!

Julian Titus Senior Editor

02/25/2013 at 05:55 PM

Did someone say Onimusha??

Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 05:37 PM

I've never played this but I always wanted to.  Maybe if we don't get a sequel, we could a HD version. Capcom can be kind of lame about giving fans what they want though.  

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 06:26 PM

Yeah, I totally wouldnt mind an HD remake, lol


02/25/2013 at 06:32 PM

VJ was one of my favorite titles of last generation. I generally enjoy Clover/Platinum works very much. Okami is one of my favorite games of all time, and Bayonetta ranks near the top of my favorites of the current gen.


02/25/2013 at 07:06 PM

Viewtiful Joe is a series I just couldn't get into.  I own the 2 games and Red Hot Rumble all on GC.  I know this sounds crazy, but I actually had more fun playing RHR with my kids than I playing the first 2 games by myself. 

Nick DiMola Director

02/25/2013 at 07:15 PM

Fun Viewtiful Joe story: Got the game in my first year of college (when it came out). Preordered to get the bobblehead at Gamestop and of course, they ran out of them and I never got one. Brought the game back to my dorm and popped it in.

Not sure if anyone remembers this, but when Clover first started talking about the game they said that the difficulty levels in the game were going to be a bit misleading. Kids was supposed to be the hard mode and Adults was to be easy, namely because kids played games more often and would be better at them.

So needless to say, I figured I'd start with what I thought was the easy mode (Adults) and absolutely got my ass handed to me. I though the game was just really hard, so I pushed through it and managed to get all the way to the lion boss fight (who I think starts the boss gauntlet). He was a major pain in my ass and I kept losing.

So, for about a week straight, I left my GameCube on in my room and managed to eventually best that bastard in between classes. Went on to beat the game, which felt like one of the toughest things ever at the time.

Good times.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 07:44 PM

Haha, thats pretty crazy. Dunno how you did it, Fire Leo was SOOO annoying. Took me forever to beat him...

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

02/25/2013 at 08:12 PM

I didn't know about such "trickery" in regards to the difficulty level selection.

Matt McLennan Staff Alumnus

02/25/2013 at 10:39 PM

Ah yes, Viewtiful Joe was such an amazing 2-D game. As Pro Daisy put it in his Capcom 5 thing on Pietriots, it was an amazing tribute to old-school side-scrolling brawlers of old.

The problem being is that Capcom never really followed it up with a "good" sequel. I hated Viewtiful Joe 2, which was enough to make me leery of the DS game Double Trouble (though since its cheap as a used game, I might try it. Might). On the other hand, VJ has ended up in the last two Capcom Vs. titles. He's still better off then Mega Man it seems. Kiss

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 10:44 PM

what didn't you like about VJ2? It was pretty much the same with a few new hooks.


02/26/2013 at 05:07 AM

I played the first game and the DS game. They were both pretty fun, although I never finished either one. It's one of those IP's that I lost interest in, I suppose. I did enjoy playing him in UMvC3, due to his size.

Super Step Contributing Writer

02/26/2013 at 06:03 AM

Henshin a go-go baby! Man, I never thought about the mascot potential, that's interesting, but I loved the GC original when I rented it, and had no idea there was a DS one! To Amazon I a go-go?!!

And, you just made me realize given how much of a cinephile I am, I should have made my name Viewtiful Joe on here. Oh well, avatar change is always a possibilty. Wink


03/10/2013 at 05:35 PM

Oh man.  I remember reading about this game in Nintendo Power and EGM back in the day and being very psyched about it.  Then I finally got it and was like, "Holy crap this game is cool BUT WHY IS IT SO FREAKING HARD."  I never finished it, and never picked up the sequel, either.

Also interesting to note is that this game came out at a time when it seemed like everybody was trying to come up with some new mascot.  EGM pointed out, around that time, that platformers were making a huge comeback, and for Sony and Microsoft especially there was a big race to see what kinds of console "icons" they could claim for themselves.

The Last Ninja

04/11/2013 at 10:50 AM

I bought the first VJ as soon as it came out for GCN. It looked really fun and it was! So then I bought the second game, which was even better! I love those games! VJ needs to return in style. 

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