Once again, Level Up’s anniversary has comes around. With this being the start of our fifth year, I have run out of Earthworm Jim games. I suppose I could talk about ports, but that’s clutching at straws, so I’m gonna start a new anniversary series. At first glance, this series might not look similar to Earthworm Jim, but both series kind of had the same path: a beloved first game, a sequel, an overlooked handheld game and a really different 3rd home console game. They even both had a TV series, which influenced the game series. For these reasons, I’ll be reviewing the Viewtiful Joe series. Since I already talked about the first game, let’s move on to Viewtiful Joe 2 available for the PS2 and Nintendo GameCube (as I have it).
It shouldn’t be surprising that Viewtiful Joe 2 is a direct sequel to the first game, but when I say “direct” I mean there has been no time passed between games. Picking off where the last game ended, we see Joe and his girlfriend Sylvia talking with Captain Blue (Joe’s mentor) about how he has 2 more adventures planned for them. This gets thrown right out the window though, since aliens that were not a part of Blue’s plans kidnap him (though personally, I think this might have been done to excuse the lack of a third part) and announce they’re searching for the Rainbow Maguffins- I mean Oscars. This means Viewtiful Joe and Sexy Silvia must now journey through more of Movieland in order to stop them from claiming the power of the happy ending (yes, that’s what the Rainbow Magoscars do).
Like with the last game, I do like the setting of Movieland and I am glad they keep it there, as these is once again a lot of potential for where Joe and Silvia can adventure to. I’m not sure if it is used as well in this game though, and I feel like Clover Studio may have used their better ideas on the first game. For example, one of the recurring baddies in this game is a T-Rex, but that choice seems obvious in a “what haven’t we done yet” sort of manner. As for the aspect of the alien invasion… well normally I would call it cheesy and group it with the dinosaur, but it works in this game, as it’s played in a tongue and cheek manner, never focusing on a “whoa, they’re ALIENS”. They’re just used as a new baddie.
The game play is a lot like the first game, but I’m not sure if I explained what it’s like as well as I should have in the first review. Back then, I called it a 2D platformer, but in retrospect perhaps “2D beat-em-up” would have been better. A lot of your time will be spent hitting enemies, but they often make it a little more complex than just being able to hit them, since you can dodge their attacks and make better strikes at certain times. Also, I should note that the powers I talked about last time are also useful during fights as well as moving about levels. The combat really is a well done element that I should not have glazed over, as the super powers were made to both compliment it and the platformning segments in equal parts, and that might be what makes them so fantastic in these games.
The major change in Viewtiful Joe 2 is that you can now play as Silvia, and she even has a new super power: instead of Mach Speed, she has the playback ability, which will repeat whatever hit was “recorded” three times. This doesn’t feel as creative or as natural as the Joe’s powers though, as puzzles that require this ability are often labeled with numbers one through three on them. Beyond this, Silvia is a slightly faster but noticeably weaker version of Joe, so chances are you’ll only bust her out when you need to use the replay power for puzzles.Replaying this game for this review made me remember why I like the Viewtiful Joe series so much and why I would like to finally get a “Viewtiful Joe 3” for some more *Capcom Time*. The game play is a great and creative balance between fighting and platforming, the story allows for almost anything to happen and takes that to its advantage, the cell-shaded graphic style makes for something unique to look at and all around it’s a good game really unlike anything else. However, this game sequel falls into a trap that a lot of movie sequels fall into: when talking about the plot, it’s a bit too similar to the first one. There are some notes that are just repeated and it makes the whole thing less interesting. The addition of Silvia also adds nothing, and while the last game had a great flow between worlds, this one feels so disjointed with it’s sudden movie switches in the search for the Rainbow Oscuffins (which I wasn’t really invested in finding). All around a great game and a decent follow up, but it feels like they either didn’t try as hard as they did with the first game, or they tried too hard. I give Viewtiful Joe 2 for the GameCube 8 Levels out of 10.