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12. Viewtiful Joe
Capcom | Capcom | 2003
Classic punch-and-kick action infused with high-energy moves that would make Neo blush, topped off with incredible comic book style
What made it so great?
At the time, Viewtiful Joe was a major coup for Nintendo. It was part of the "Capcom Five," a group of titles that were supposed to be GameCube exclusives. Despite the horrible fate of these games (one cancellation, one flop and three ported to PS2), Viewtiful Joe made a beautiful splash as it introduced 2D action games to a new generation.
It was nothing more than a left-to-right button masher, but its over-the-top sense of style and grace rocketed superhero Joe into instant popularity. So much, in fact, that Capcom ended up turning the game into an entire franchise in record time, spawning four games and an animated series within two years. Too bad the magic of the first just didn't last.
It wasn't just the slick look, though - the fighting was involved and totally different from any other brawler out at the time. Joe's time-screwing VFX abilities let you dodge enemy attacks and counterattack with a flurry of Matrix-style acrobatics that made you think, if even for a brief moment, the GameCube was the coolest thing on the planet. The crunching sounds of Joe's fist hitting a mannequin in slo-mo still resonate in our hearts today.
Get ready to play
On top of the wild presentation was an ongoing homage to classic movies and Japanese action shows. Anyone who's watched a wire-fu film or seen Power Rangers can appreciate the high level of cheese seeping out of the TV screen. Puffed-up monsters and unlockable characters spat hammy dialogue at one another from 20 paces, then closed in for a dizzying in-your-face showdown. It was all in good fun and managed to make a once-dead genre exciting again. Well, it did until it was splattered all over the industry in a rainbow-colored explosion of overdone marketing.
Been there, done that?
For more style over substance gameplay, you need to see P.N. 03, the flop of the Capcom Five. Despite being straightforward and repetitive as hell, it's still the sexiest, most alluring shooter of all time.