Okay, granted Viewtiful Joe is just about the stupidest name for a video game ever--but seeing as the game is one of the most original, fun and visually stunning for years, it's pretty easy to forgive. Not that the name is the only thing that's odd about Joe, mind: the plot sees you sucked into an old movie, in which you've got to battle evil as a hokey superhero with some nevertheless impressive powers. Viewtiful Joe is a side-scrolling adventure with highly stylised cel-shaded graphics that look literally like a moving comic book. The big gimmick with the gameplay is the "viewpoint" fighting system, which lets you speed up or slow down time whenever you want. The system works beautifully and allows for the kind of balletic, slow-motion fighting that Enter The Matrix utterly failed to deliver. The viewpoint fighting is more than just a gimmick, as many items in the game, from bad guys to bullets, move too fast for the human eye to see. Slow down time, though, and you can duck and weave your way through a hailstorm of missiles and take down your enemies before they've had a chance to even move. The only problem with Viewtiful Joe is that it's so unremittingly hard. It's heartily advised you choose the "Kids" difficulty level, because even that is anything but child's play. The various puzzles can also be a bit tricky but they're all internally consistent and don't come anywhere near spoiling this superb game. --David Jenkins
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Mission: An everyday Joe becomes the ultimate superhero.