Retrospective: Viewtiful Joe

Unstoppable VFX machine

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Meet the hardest punch in gaming. The Red Hot One Hundred (RHOH to its friends) is a steel-shattering ballistic missile of a blow, hitting with the force of a freight train and the sound of a thunderclap.


In the right hands, it's a true weapon of mass destruction: set yourself up by dodging (and thus dizzying) a pair of hapless mechanical enemies, then leap back, zoom in and smash Robot Dolt #1 into Robot Dolt #2. Throw a third or a fourth into the equation and you've got a scene of balletic carnage as metal plates, springs and screws fly past in glorious slow motion.


It's the game equivalent of the lobby scene in The Matrix, only even more satisfying. Slo-mo had never been so popular as in the years after the Wachowski boys' action opus, but no game ever made the most of it like Clover's beautiful brawler. And The Matrix wasn't the only film Hideki Kamiya and co riffed on in their story of a popcorn-munching slacker, his wisecracking alter-ego and a magical time-twisting watch. From nods to Transformers and Star Wars, to chapter titles referencing 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Some Like It Hot, it was a heartfelt love letter to escapist cinema.

You play both director and editor, adjusting the speed and framing of the action to make it look more 'viewtiful'. Joe's VFX watch is the key, speeding up the action until he becomes a blur of fists, feet and fury, or hitting the brakes so he can dodge incoming torpedoes or return them with a punch or a kick. And when our hero's ready for his close-up, you zoom in to increase the cinematic intensity of his blows. Fists will fly. And so will bits of robot.
With a clutch of memorable bosses (if you've played it, the mere mention of Hulk Davidson will have his intro bouncing around your brain), a fistful of smartly constructed puzzles and an ageless art style, Viewtiful Joe is one of GameCube's very finest games. Like the RHOH, it's a knockout.


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