Viewtiful Joe Double Trouble is yet another instalment in the classic Capcom series about the superhero who loves films, Viewtiful Joe. The DS outing had a lot to live up to in comparison to the console versions, maybe a bit too much was expected?
For me the first 2 VJ games on the GameCube were a pleasure to play as they consisted of frantically fast action and a cheesy narrator. My expectations were high from the first second for this game, I wanted it to be on the same level as it predecessors, I felt slightly let down.
Double trouble starts out with Joe on the film set of Captain Blue’s latest movie, as you would expect not too soon after the game has begun the bad guys show up. In this version however Joe doesn’t actually go into the movie, the bad guys are at large in the real world now. The VFX watch (the source of Joe’s power) can only work when inside a movie, now there’s a dilemma if ever I saw one! But fear not my crime fighting companions, help is at hand in the form of Captain Blue, hurrah! That’s right the daddy of all superheroes comes along and provides you with a video-camera that charges the VFX as long as Joe is being filmed. Your cameraman, or woman I would say, is none other than Joe’s long term girlfriend Sylvia. The only real difference this makes it that you are forced to have a circle in the middle of the screen that represents the cameras aim, way to go irritate me Capcom!
The game looks nice, in fact its the exact same style as the others with on-par graphics, which is impressive as the game runs on 30fps opposed to the last two which were on 60fps There is nothing I can really flaw about its appearance, well asides from the stupid mark on the screen the camera causes. However what does let it down when it comes to presentation is the lack of voicing in the scenes. Maybe it is a bit harsh to score a game down because they weren’t able to include voice-overs, but it does detract from the appeal of the game when you compare it to the series. For those unaware, the past instalments of the franchise have all had a narrator who tells the story in a cheesy film style, this is good because it sounds like a movie and adds humour. For me that is where the trouble lies, the essence of humour and feeling that you were in a movie was what made the game so captivating in the first place. Sound isn’t totally void throughout the game, there are grunts enemies make, music playing in the background and every now and again you will hear Joe say “Henshin a go-go baby!”. But what I feel the instalment needed for the true experience was more sound, this is just a silent B-Movie.
The scenes in the game are played out in the typical movie style, you have the title screen for the chapter and then progress through the level with various cut-scenes, as with all VJ games. There has however been a new element introduced into the cut-scenes where you get to slide the film reel. Every now and again the story will stop mid track and you have to slide in the new film using the touch screen to, doing this allows you to progress further. While this is a cute feature at the beginning it soon gets tiresome and you wish there was an option to remove it.
Capcom have gone all out with trying to provide some exclusive DS powers for Joe this time round you can still jump, punch, kick and slow down time the same way as before (no rush power though). What has been added are 4 new powers which are Scratch, Split, Slide and Touch, with each of these being heavily dependant on the use of the touch screen. In typical VJ style you can enhance most of these moves by buying the upgrades with your game points at various stages in the game.
Scratch is activated by holding the right trigger and scratching your screen, what this does is shake everything around you causing objects to fall on enemies and some scenery to break. This is a nice idea for the game and works quite well once you have gotten used to the unnatural positioning of your hand it causes.
Split does what it says on the tin, it splits the screen when you make a horizontal line with the touch screen. When in split mode you move the top half of the bottom screen while the bottom half stays still. This is primarily used for puzzle solving in the game and getting rid of stacked obstacles by removing the items at the top. I would say its probably the most innovative of all the features as it adds a whole new style of problem solving to the game, although sometimes you feel that it is a bit too overused.
Slide, activated by and upwards motion on the touch screen, basically switches the top and bottom screens around with each other so that you get the up close and personal view of Joe. This freezes the enemies in fear and allows for Joe to unleash some of his upgraded powers you unlock later in game. I do quite like this power but it can be a pain to initiate as an upward stroke on the screen needs to be clear to activate Slide, but with time you get accustomed to it.
The final new addition to the gameplay Touch is a bit of a wildcard, while it can be highly useful it can let you down with the difficulties and coordination required to successfully execute it. To use the touch feature you have to initiate Slide mode and while zoomed in you can interact with all manner of objects in the game. Sometimes you need to zoom in to turn a cog or activate a lever, this stuff is pretty straightforward and easy. The other, harder to use, feature of touch is when you have to attack enemies that can only be defeated by touch. This process can be hard as you have to go into slide mode and then poke the enemy when they come into range, its a bit too tedious for my liking.
These DS exclusive features are used at almost every turn in the game, it certainly gets its use from the touch screen. Most boss battles each have their own elements in which you can use your powers to aid you but more often that not you will find the traditional slow down time, beat the crap out of them method still works best.
There is also a part in the game where you play as Joe’s sister Jasmine, she actually has no powers at all. This section is short and you will be back there later as Joe, so this makes the diversity in gameplay you get very brief. At other points Jasmine will take a backseat in the battles and supply Joe with items when activated through Touch mode (had to be careful phrasing that sentence).
With 6 chapters to the game, each taking less than an hour, you wont be playing for too long till you have the game beat. What the game lacks in length it does make up for replayability and it is nice to have a game you can complete in a long journey Of course there are the Kids, Adult and V-Rated difficulties which provide further challenges in a later play through. It still is quite cheeky however to charge full price for what is a very small game.
While I have highlighted several areas for criticism in this game you can tell that Capcom did try to make this live up to the console outings. They didn’t manage to hit the nail on the head with Double Trouble but it still is an enjoyable game, way too short though. If your stuck for a game to get on your DS then Joe is a good contender for your money, just not at full price.
Its not the best game, its not the worst and it doesn’t live up to the console versions. It sits on the fence between a 6 and a 7 but I feel more inclined to give it a 6 as Capcom can do a lot better than this.