Viewtiful Joe is one of the few modern series that resolutely clings to old gameplay ideas. Even so, it stands proudly apart from the bottomless pits of platformers thanks to its gravity-defying, wire-fu moves and an instantly recognizable visual style. Double Trouble carries the same eccentric, living comic book look and flashy gameplay of its console brethren, plus some of the best use of the DS' touch screen we've seen yet.
The game's a classic side-scroller at heart. You guide overconfident superhero Viewtiful Joe through a movie set filled with fist fights and psychedelic opportunities to use his reality-altering VFX powers, such as slowing down time for a Matrix -style showdown.
One of the new VFX abilities, Split, is one of the coolest effects we've seen on the DS thus far; it lets you cut the bottom screen into two separate halves with the stylus and slide the top portion left or right, giving you a new level of control over the world. Mountain of garbage blocking your path? Just cut the screen in half, slide the top part over and watch the stash fall in two, making it easy to get around. Even solid walls can be cut, slid over and passed through, effectively breaking open traditional level design by removing the "you can't go there" mentality. It makes you reevaluate how to play a game that's steeped in 2D tradition.
Two other new powers, Slide and Scratch, are a little more obvious. Slide swaps the top and bottom screens of the DS, zooming in so you can touch objects with the stylus. Prodding is the only to way take out some enemies, and several puzzles make use of levers that can only be accessed through the touch screen. Scratch, as you can imagine, has you scratching the touch screen like crazy so loose items can rain down and bury the evil-doers with garbage from above.
As interesting as the new powers are, their uniqueness can't mask how monotonous the fighting and simple puzzle breaking can become. Much of the game revolves around smart usage of your VFX powers, but even more is simply beating the crap out of the bizarre movieland enemies.
That said, running around and making time your bitch is a sensation nothing else on the DS can duplicate. While you're slowing time to make an electric current charge a battery, rows of freakish, knife-wielding mannequins are bearing down on you with cartoonish limbs flailing; there's so much energy and style pouring from the two screens, it's hard not to crack a smile at Joe's over the top, action movie cheesiness.