(GCN / GameCube)

Viewtiful Joe (GCN / GameCube)

Game Review

Viewtiful Joe Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Stephen Kelly

A Viewtiful debut

Joe is nothing more than an average… well, Joe, as it were. The guy loves old movies and their cheesy melodrama, so when a malevolent hand drags him into a superhero flick, he’s absolutely pumped. This is a chance to do the impossible; to pull off his favorite actions scenes with high-flying kicks, slow-motion thrills, and fancy close-up shots. All of these powers are laid before you with just enough explanation to get started, but putting the impressive mess of over-the-top abilities to effective use is a challenge that takes the course of an entire game to master. This side-scrolling brawler is deceptively deep and riddled with punishing challenges, demanding that players face frustration with an iron will to come out on top. After ten years of life on the Nintendo GameCube, it still takes a lot of guts to don the mantle of Viewtiful Joe.

That’s what our simple-minded protagonist is called in Movie Land. No longer a film buff with an uninterested girlfriend, Viewtiful Joe is a super-powered punching machine with a damsel to save. After following the love of his life into this alternate reality, he soon unravels an evil plot that threatens the real world’s very existence. This is a perfect excuse to take down heaps of supervillains in a host of movie sets that serve as a colorful background for the time-honored art of beating up bad guys.

The art direction and gameplay mechanics are of one mind: bold, chaotic, and unlike anything you’ve seen before. Watching someone play Viewtiful Joe is bewildering and marvelous, even if nothing makes sense. What at first appears to be a shallow beat ‘em up with an outrageous mix of colorful 2D and 3D elements soon evolves into a frenzy of lightning-fast special effects that turn it into an extravaganza more reminiscent of Marvel vs. Capcom than River City Ransom. When broken down into its base components, however, the combat becomes manageable and almost methodical (in a highly caffeinated sort of way).

Standard punches, kicks, and uppercuts make up the basics of your repertoire, but left to their own devices they would be nothing more than a curiously clunky and unfulfilling attempt at the genre. It’s the Viewtiful Effects — known as VFX — that transform the game into a different beast entirely. Slow-motion is the first power unveiled, which turns the fleet-footed enemies into dominoes ready for the toppling, assuming you can strike at the perfect time. This ability alone offers a whole new perspective on the world, giving you time to strategize and combo the opposition into oblivion. When time slows to a crawl, the precision and importance of each move is magnified, allowing you to dodge the quickest of blows and hand-pick the perfect counter.

This will usually serve as your go-to power in the hectic land of cinema, but turning Joe into a hyper-fast whirlwind of motion and zooming in the camera for extra powerful bursts of special attacks are vital skills to learn as well. Knowing when (and when not) to combine these absurd tactics is half the battle, especially when light puzzle solving comes into play. Without risk, of course, there’s no reward. Using VFX drains a meter that temporarily turns Viewtiful Joe back into regular old Joe, weak and ripe for the obliterating; and with or without these fancy powers, obliteration is something you’ll have to get used to.

Viewtiful Joe is a difficult game, partially because of its intense action and partially because of a deliberate use of checkpoints. Your first trip through a level may very well be an unrestrained ride on the pain train as unpredictable enemies and deadly environments trip you up left and right, slowly chipping away at your precious supply of lives. Succumbing to zero retries before reaching a checkpoint means bashing your way through the same trials all over again, which requires learning from mistakes and not making them again.

Restocking items during break screens is the saving grace to the unforgiving learning curve. Whether you choose to buy healing hamburgers, upgrades to existing VFX, or brand new moves, your decision can make or break the coming tribulations. Luckily, coins collected from failed attempts can be cashed in for goodies, which makes repeatedly grinding through tough spots a little more bearable. This is a game that demands practice, forcing you to adapt or die.

Sometimes the simplest of tricks can make all the difference, particularly when bosses are involved. These hulking monstrosities may seem intimidating at first glance, but falling into their rhythm of attack and selecting the right form of VFX can turn a nightmare into pure success. The trouble comes when that simple trick still hasn’t shown its face after your tenth attempt, compounding into raging frustration during the late-game medley of reused boss encounters. Skill will always prevail if you’ve enough of it, but sometimes the game doesn’t know when to quit. Although beginners can opt for a gentler difficulty mode, they’ll miss out on game-changing unlockable characters and even tougher modes down the road. With so many extras challenging you for another round, the first dash through Movie Land is only the beginning.


Bursting with vibrancy and ham-fisted movie gags, Viewtiful Joe can’t be mistaken for any other game. For those willing to learn, it serves up a complex system of intricate combat mechanics that constantly dance between risk and reward; those short on time or patience might be left in the dust. Somewhere between a fighting game and a fever dream, this brawler will engage and enrage in equal parts with a fiery vigor, and the effect is Viewtiful.

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User Comments (54)



ScreamoPichu said:

Awesome review. Loved this game! I really hope another Veautiful Joe happens at some point.



Le_Gazman said:

Amazing game and it was just the exclusive GameCube needed at the time. Shame no one knew about it!

Aren't some of the people behind this now working at Platinum Games?



seronja said:

man this game is sooooooooooooo underrated! as a kid me and my bro used to play this alot =D good times =) hope it comes to VC at some some point.



Omega said:

... Viewtiful Joe is a difficult game ... demanding that players face frustration...
I agree. But it's fun despite it's difficulty. And it's more like an action-adventure-platform-puzzler and not one of those uninspired boring beat'em ups. Come on, Six Machine! (And there are 2 sequels one for the GCN/PS2 and one for the DS.)



RevolverLink said:

Viewtiful Joe was really fun despite how much I sucked at it (I never could clear the Magnificent 5 episode), and it's still one of the more visually arresting games I've ever seen.

I traded in my copy several years ago, and it didn't take me long to regret that decision. Someday I'll get around to buying it again.



Pichuka97 said:

I've had this for like a year and I've only made it a few levels in and thats it. I think I'll plug this into my Cube later today.



ajcismo said:

Great game, I hope we see it on the VC someday to find a new audience. I hope we see the VC someday too.



advance_melee said:

Well there isn't any gamecube games on vc so i dont when or if itd ever come on vc. but i did love viewtiful joe, i hope they make a new one for wiiu or 3ds



rjejr said:

@Longforgotten - They are currently working on Wonderful 101 - which is why everybody in that game looks like Joe.

I bought this used at GS for the PS2 but got the GC version in the box. Or vice versa maybe. It was too difficult for me, didn't get very far. I don't recall why I didn't exchange the box or game for a matching set, it was a loooong time ago. I still have it displayed on the shelf if anybody is interested in a mismatched set.



Skeet102 said:

my god, this game is awesome! one of the best and underrated games ever. it deserves an 11/10



BulbasaurusRex said:

Did anyone else watch the tie-in cartoon loosely based on the first game? I thought it had some interesting moments, but it was mostly pretty bland, falling into several poor juvenile clichés. Plus, it was cancelled after one season, so it didn't get the chance to adapt the sequels.



gojiguy said:

Really? I found the combat stiff an uninteresting and the gameflow awkward.

I love the character and the world, and the visuals too. But the game isn't really that great... Maybe I'll give it another chance.



BestBuck15 said:

Great game, I have it in my collection. I started playing the Gamecube recently thanks to this site, I'm busy on Mario Sunshine and Windwaker, then I'll be moving on to F Zero Ax and Metroid, Its actually like having a brand new console the games are that fresh, even though I've played them all 10 years ago. I'm in gaming heaven.



blackknight77 said:

I always thought the main character looked like the guy from Limp Bizkit when out of his costume. Anyway I have Viewtiful Joe 2. Great game I need to find the original though.



EaZy_T said:

This was the last game I was playing on the GC before I got a Wii U. I could only pass a few levels, but it was a really nice looking game.



kereke12 said:

I remember when this game came out, i still have the game(ds version).....those were the good old days...capcom should make a remake or a new version.



sinalefa said:

I never played this one, but I picked up the sequel to try the GCN capabilities of my Wii. Great game, but I only beat it once in the easiest setting. I guess the gameplay did not really grab me.



CanisWolfred said:

I really really wish I could finish this game. It's just too damn frustrating for me to really enjoy. That said, everyone should try this game. It's not that hard to find from what I've seen, and it's not that expensive, either (I bought it for $3.99 two years ago)



AbeVigoda said:


The combat is stiff and uninteresting?!

You must be thinking of another game, cause this game was the exact opposite.



SheldonRandoms said:

It's hard to believe it's almost been 10 years since this game came out.

Also "Henshin a Go-Go Baby!" was almost gonna be my year book quote, but in the end, I decided to make the quote have a message in it, and that quote was "Remember, it's illegal to lick door knobs on other planets"



Haxonberik said:

I feel bad for not knowing about this when I was a pre-teen. I will make it up if they release it for the Wii U VC.



Rafie said:

I'm proud to say that I still have my PS2 version and I beat it thru and thru. I loved it so much that I got the PSP version as well. Royal Rumble I think it was called. I still have that one too. It would be PRETTY awesome if Capcom were to upscale this in HD and release....OR just make another epic one.



MakeMyBiscuit said:

This game and its sequel are 2 reasons why I'm not getting ride of my first generation Wii

Great review!



SirQuincealot said:

this game should get a re release, or even a new game, on a certaain portable nintendo,cell shaded graophics was a good idea, they still hold up even today



Dpullam said:

I played the demo of Viewtiful Joe quite a few years ago and really liked it. It's a shame that I still haven't purchased this game yet.



Rod64 said:

Henshin a go-go baby!! (even if I could never finish the damn game because of the horrible difficulty).
Still a great game in 2013.



BulbasaurusRex said:

@Assassinated Occasionally, this site will review notable classic Nintendo games that haven't seen a release on any of the Virtual Consoles. It doesn't happen often, but they'll throw one in every now and then to be more thorough with their coverage of retro Nintendo games. You can look for them in the "retro" section.



sketchturner said:

8 does seem low for this game. It is a masterpiece, IMO. The game especially impressed me because I hate most beat-em-up games but this one kept things fresh and interesting. I beat this game a couple dozen times, which I normally never beat games so many times. Beating Ultra-V Rated was incredibly satisfying.
For me, this is the spiritual successor to Comix Zone.



WiiLovePeace said:

I'll definitely have to try this game one day, great review! I've always wanted to give it a shot but just never got around to it.



Wilford111 said:

I gotta get this sometime... especially since I never had a Gamecube when it was supported and I have one now.



guest37 said:

unique game and innovative in the 2D genre. let's see more games like this today instead of CoD rehashes!



Henmii said:

I first bought Viewtiful Joe 2. Although I loved the graphical style and action, I found the puzzles to be very cumbersome! I have searched sooo many times on the internet for the puzzle solutions, it isn't funny!

A few months back I finally got the first one, second hand! Great game, and the puzzles seem to make a lot more sense! Or maybe I have gotten used to it, just as your brain has to get used to Zelda?




Reading reviews like this remind me that Nintendo really needs to speed up the Virtul Console releases!! They sould be working 24/7 on getting all those 500 classic games they had on the old Wii moved to the Wii U with TV off Gamepad support ofcouse. By the way I'm still waiting for ALL the Mortal Kombat games and U.N. Squadron to come out on there!

Plus adding in classic Gamecube games to the mix like Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2 or Metal Gear Solid Acid or Resident Evil 1, 2 & 3 and let's not forget the forgotten gems from the old Wii like Zack and Wiki or Madworld!

That would be so freaking EPIC but they need to have all that on the ASAP!!



valcoholic said:

althoug I played through this, I'd totally buy that as soon as it comes to the WiiU VC. I don't even mind how much it's gonna cost.



FritzFrapp said:

It's been ten years? Damn. One of the very best games. Would love to see Joe come back in some form. Perhaps on 3DS. Thought the DS game, Double Trouble, was terribly underrated and very inventive in parts.



Gregor said:

@Wilford111 says the pitiful little person who didn't know there was ports on the top of his Wii for GameCube controllers and memory cards.



Gregor said:

@Wilford111 you have betrayed yourself by not getting one, you poor soul. Bye has anyone ever noticed that Wii games on the Wii U look terrible?



RegalSin said:

Great game not enough plablicity unlike Pokemon. If this cartoon was on tv first for an month or so, This would have been the end all of Christmas games.

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