From contender to corpse in two short years. In 2003, Viewtiful Joe was fresh. It brought together funky graphics, twisted classic gameplay and a sense of humor that didn't make a hell of a lot of sense. Then the sequel came out a year later... and did it all again, exactly the same. But we still didn't care; it was fun.
No, the warning sign was 2005's Red Hot Rumble, a half-assed attempt at making a Smash Bros.-style party fighter. Suddenly, everyone remembered how Mega Man had gone down hard and braced for the worst... but it didn't quite come. Turns out that the solid Double Trouble for the DS is almost certainly the final Joe adventure. It worked, but it also served to remind us that the formula is just that: a formula.
Joe's got nowhere to go. And with his creators exiting Capcom stage left at the end of 2006, any attempts to revive the series are seriously worrying. The ground still looms.