Viewtiful Joe 2 review

How Joe can you go? Capcom's innovative and brilliant beat-'em-up returns. NGC reports

Capcom are turning into Nintendo. By this we mean that their games of late are not only utterly brilliant, they're also capable of huge originality as well as crowd-pleasing brilliance.

Check out the gore-soaked wonder of Resident Evil 4 for the very definition of the latter example, but return to the primary-coloured thrills of Viewtiful Joe as a paragon of the former.

Frankly, we were amazed that, in this day of sequel after sequel and licence after licence, Capcom dared risk the cash on developing something so wilfully old-school and yet utterly different as Viewtiful Joe, much less fund a sequel.

Amazed, yes, but also thoroughly glad indeed. Capcom have made the world a better place with their jump-suited hero.

However, whereas the original Viewtiful Joe was the videogame equivalent of having ice poured down your pants - it was that arresting - Viewtiful Joe 2 can't hope to have the same impact.

It is, in essence, more of the same, and if you persevered through the first game's more bloody-minded bits then you'll have little trouble negotiating the trickier sections of part 2.

It's as imaginative as before, using Joe's (and Silvia's - more of which in a mo') VFX abilities to slow down or speed up time, but it's all less of a surprise.

The brilliant hyper-kinetic combat is still brilliant and hyper-kinetic, of course, but it now wears a comfortable shawl of familiarity, whereas before it mounted its own campaign of videogame shock and awe.

Viewtiful Joe 2 really only stretches itself in the addition of Joe's girlfriend Silvia as a second playable character and a brand-new VFX power: replay.

Silvia's replay power allows for a new breed of puzzles that are distinct to those that relate to the existing abilities, which is all very welcome.

Silvia's distinct personality and differing skill-set on their own make a convincing argument that this is a superior game to the original, but the well-judged step forwards that Viewtiful Joe 2 takes can't ultimately compensate for the feeling that this is otherwise more of the same.

And you'll be able to pick up the first game for a pittance nowadays, too.

For all our reservations, Joe 2 remains wildly imaginative, heart-breakingly individual, full of charm and stupendously fun. Three cheers for Capcom, then, eh?

Viewtiful Joe 2 is out for PS2 and Gamecube on 1 April

More Info

PlatformPS2, GameCube