[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/viewtifuljoe2/cover.jpg[/floatleft]If you thought things were done after Joe rescued Silvia from Movieland in the first [i]Viewtiful Joe[/i], you were sadly mistaken! Joe has now become an action hero for good, only this time he’s not alone. Sylvia, the damsel in distress from the first title, has begged Captain Blue for a V-Watch and is now a superheroine alongside her fearless boyfriend. They are out to stop the Black Emperor from stealing Rainbow Oscars in Movieworld, which contain the power of happy endings. This journey sends them through different representations of movies (such as the Samurai film reel) to stop the Emperor’s henchmen, of which there are hordes and hordes. Sound like a horrible story? Well, it is. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone, as the story isn’t meant to be mind-boggling. It’s supposed to be cheesy, and that’s what makes this series so fun.
[i]Viewtiful Joe 2[/i] is more of a new series of levels than it is a separate game. The fact that Joe travels around through different movie eras gives me the same distinct feeling that I had while playing [i]Turtles in Time[/i] for the SNES, which is easily in my top five favorite SNES games of all time. But I digress. The reason why this doesn’t feel like a totally new game is because it looks, feels, sounds (except the bosses were given better voiceovers, minus the [b]horribly[/b] annoying chameleon), and plays the exact same way as its predecessor. This means that if you excelled in the first game, this one will be a cakewalk because it’s generally easier. Each level (called a movie reel in this one) has several different acts-each having its own save point upon completion, making saves more frequent than in [i]Viewtiful Joe[/i]. Another cool edition to the game is that Joe’s father, Jet, changes the movie reels in the Real World, thus controlling where Joe travels to next, and the two exchange witty banter occasionally, adding to the game’s thick layer of cheese that already exists because of Joe and Sylvia’s interactions.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/viewtifuljoe2/ss03_thumb.jpg[/floatright]As I mentioned before, fundamentally the game did not at all change except for one addition. In the last game, Sylvia was one of several unlockable characters as which you could play the game. In this installment, both Sylvia and Joe are playable, and the use of the “Viewtiful Touch” allows you to switch between the two instantly while playing. This opens the door for two-person combos, but it also means that there are some areas where Joe (my favored character) can’t do everything and must call on Sylvia to get past a certain area. You still have to run through several 2-D side-scrolling levels, solving puzzles and smashing your way through torrents of enemies that keep popping up out of nowhere. You’re still trying to collect Viewtiful Points to buy powerups, and you’re still collecting Viewtiful Canisters to increase the size of your VFX (Viewtiful Effects) meter. And yes, you’re still using your VFX powers.
Let’s talk about said powers, of which there are four. Joe has all of his abilities back this time around, and they are still used in exactly the same way as before. VFX Slow slows down the screen so that Joe can unleash massive combos to gain tons of Viewtiful Points, and it can still be used to throw a super punch when the enemy is dizzy. VFX Mach Speed makes everything insanely fast, and as you purchase upgrades, you get multiple Joes running around, smashing boxes in the background that are otherwise unreachable. VFX Zoom In does just that, and this can be used to spin kick, spin jump, make a hard dive, or unleash my favorite move in the [i]Viewtiful Joe[/i] series: the Slow Zoom Red Hot One Hundred. One more power has been added to the fray, but Joe doesn’t get to use it. You must switch to Sylvia, and while she cannot use Mach Speed, she does have the ever-useful VFX Replay, which, as you can probably guess, takes a recording of a move and plays it twice more. So for scoring one hit, Sylvia does three times the damage. The only drawback is that if you use Replay and get hit, you lose three times the life.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/viewtifuljoe2/ss07_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]Following in the footsteps of the first installment, [i]Viewtiful Joe 2[/i] has several items to unlock as you progress through its difficulties (and I have not found any cheat code thus far to do this the easy way). As you progress through the game, you’ll notice several chamber numbers popping up on your screen. That is a message telling you that you’ve unlocked one of 37 chambers, which serve as bonus levels. The trick is to perform an exact feat while playing, thus unlocking a different chamber. For example, you might have to progress through an area without grabbing one film canister, or you might have to let yourself be killed by a certain enemy. There is also the obligatory unlocking of harder difficulties as you continually beat them, but to be honest, for me playing any game once through is enough unless it offers some cool incentive (and unlocking a harder difficulty is not the way to do this). The game fell short on the secrets department.
Overall, I would say that [i]Viewtiful Joe 2[/i] is pretty fun considering it is more of the same stuff given to us by the first game. I wouldn’t recommend playing this one if you haven’t yet played the original, and if you have played it, don’t expect any new groundbreaking features in the sequel. If 2-D side-scrolling with very cheesy dialogue is your thing, then [i]Viewtiful Joe 2[/i] is your game. I’m surprised to say that even though I hate cheesy and am not a fan of side-scrollers, I found this game humorous and enjoyable. When I heard Joe say, “Henshin-A-Go-Go, Baby!” for the very first time in [i]Viewtiful Joe[/i], I rolled my eyes and nearly shut the game off right there. Now I can honestly say that, as I played through the sequel, I chuckled every time I heard it. In closing, [i]Viewtiful Joe 2[/i] may be the same game with a different name, but I enjoyed that game, and I think it’s worth checking out.