Bring it Back | Viewtiful Joe
It’s another Bring it Back Sunday and we’ve got another great franchise to take a look back on. After revisiting Sony’s The Legend of Dragoon last week, this week, we’ll be looking at something a bit more… Viewtiful. That’s right, Capcom’s movie-magic beat ’em up and all around awesome franchise, Viewtiful Joe is our subject this week. It’s been quite some time since the last Viewtiful Joe game (over 15 years!), but we feel it’s about time this super heroic series returned to the spotlight. Henshin-a-go-go, baby!
Back in the Nintendo GameCube days, Capcom was a pretty valuable publisher for the Big N. Not only did they give Nintendo a lot of Resident Evil love, but they also provided a lot of fantastic exclusive titles. In 2003, one such title was Viewtiful Joe, a game from Team Viewtiful (which would later become Clover Studios). Hideki Kamiya, famed developer of Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, would be the one to direct this classic. It told a tale of a regular Joe Shmoe, aptly named Joe, a tokusatsu movie fan and all around otaku. While watching a movie with his girlfriend Silvia, they’re sucked into Movieland by the characters. It’s here that Joe must become the hero to save his girlfriend from the clutches of Jadow.
As “Viewtiful Joe,” Joe now has access to new “Viewtiful Effects Powers,” or VFX. This allows him to do things like speed up and slow down time, or even zoom in on the action. These abilities increase his power beyond that of a regular human, and as long as his VFX gauge has energy, he continues to be Viewtiful. If he runs out though, he turns back to regular Joe until he recharges a bit. Using the V-watch given to him by his hero Captain Blue, he can transform back with his catch phrase “Henshin-a-go-go, baby!” Joe will run, jump (and double jump), dodge and slide his way through multiple levels of Movieland. In some stages, he’ll even have access to his transforming robot Six Machine, taking the form of an aircraft, a submarine, and even a giant robot.
Fighting through enemies and maintaining a stylish performance using VFX powers will earn V-Points. After each section of a stage is done, you’ll be ranked on your performance and earn even more V-Points. Between stages, you’ll also be able to spend V-Points on upgrades to health, the VFX gauge, new abilities, or even consumable items like the Voomerang or Shocking Pink Bombs. One thing fans loved about the game was the references to movies and even other games. The game gained critical acclaim and was considered such a smash hit that it even got a PlayStation 2 port. This port even featured Dante from the Devil May Cry series. Interestingly enough, his dialogue is all spoken backwards, as is the case for all unlockable characters.
Of course, a PlayStation 2 port wasn’t the only example of the legacy. Clover Studios was able to spawn a sequel a little over a year later with Viewtiful Joe 2. Adding the Viewtiful Switch mechanic, players were able to swap between Joe and Silvia this time around. Silvia gains her own VFX powers and becomes Sexy Silvia, even getting the unique Replay ability. The two can also use Joe’s transforming robot Six Machine during gameplay, utilizing the Six Cannon. Silvia no longer playing the damsel in distress, this sequel put Captain Blue trouble this time. Going up against the organization Gedow, Joe and Silvia collect the seven Rainbow Oscars to save Blue.
Shortly after the release of Viewtiful Joe 2, the series received an anime based off the first and second game. This anime was a loose adaptation, but also introduced some original characters. The most notable of these characters is Junior, who becomes Captain Blue Jr. With 51 episodes, the series was considered to be pretty faithful to the source material. Unfortunately, the dub was not very well received and only made it through half the series. Despite this, the series did inspire the four player fighting game, Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble. Releasing on multiple platforms, the game was sort of like Super Smash Bros. with VFX abilities. It even had a mission based story for players to enjoy. Unfortunately, it would also become the game to receive the lowest reception.
Of course, that very same year, Clover also released Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble for the Nintendo DS. While not a Viewtiful Joe 3, this game was an very admirable DS release. It didn’t exactly use the dual screens of the system creatively, mainly using the top screen to bring the action closer. Despite this, it does make use of the touch screen with brand new VFX powers. Scratch has players “scratch” on the screen to shake things up. Split allows players to split the screen in half to change things up. Slide swaps the screen views while also giving access to the Touch VFX power, which allows players to touch enemies to defeat them or even solve puzzles. This was also the game to technically introduce Joe’s sister Jasmine, though she also appears as a Silvia costume in Red Hot Rumble.
While Double Trouble was subject to positive reviews for an early DS title, it wasn’t without one big problem. The new VFX powers made for awkward controls, making it almost like players would need a third hand. While it was possible to manage, it did make it difficult to get good scores in some stages. It also was a game that made players practically abuse their touch screens. Despite this, the game was still a lot of fun, though sadly, it was the last Viewtiful Joe title to release. Four games in less than three years is pretty impressive. Of course, a third game in the main series was seemingly planned, but Clover Studios was also working on God Hand and Okami. Before work on a Viewtiful Joe 3 could happen, Closer was shut down in 2007.
Capcom states they have no plans to continue the series, but they clearly hold it high. Even though there hasn’t been any new games, Joe, Silvia and others have made appearances in multiple other titles. This includes crossover fighters like Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and even Puzzle Fighter on mobile devices. Rashid even has a Viewtiful Joe costume in Street Fighter V. Despite these cameos and appearances, this is a series that needs to continue. Even though Clover Studios is no longer, it’s not like Capcom hasn’t done sequels to their games. Okami got a sequel on the DS with Okamiden in 2010, so Viewtiful Joe is definitely doable. Even Hideki Kamiya has expressed interest in working on a new game, though that obviously comes with its own complications.
While Kamiya no longer works for Capcom, his love for Viewtiful Joe is very clear. In fact, you can see multiple references in games like Bayonetta and The Wonderful 101. He even considers Viewtiful Joe to be part one of his hero project, with The Wonderful 101 being part two, and Project G.G. being part three. While we might not see Kamiya return to the series, that doesn’t mean Capcom should abandon it. With the company revisiting some of their older franchises, this one is definitely up for consideration. With more gamers out there willing to try games like this, there’s never been a better time to Bring it Back!
Since it’s been a while since the Viewtiful Joe games were in the spotlight, the best approach would to release an HD remaster. Like Okami HD, Capcom could work with a company like HexaDrive to release a double pack of the first two Viewtiful Joe games. The games would have a ton of potential with an HD makeover and deserve a chance in today’s games. Of course, with games being widescreen now, it would create the possibility of more space to work with. Once we get those HD remasters, this can open the floodgate to a sequel. Perhaps Capcom can try to finish the trilogy themselves with one final game? Or maybe they can reach out to PlatinumGames and try to bury the hatchet for a collaboration?
Whatever Capcom decides to do with this franchise, it’s definitely worth more than just some crossover appearances. Either way, Capcom needs to just go for it. What do you think? Should Viewtiful Joe reemerge for a triumphant return? Let us know in the comments below. You may also want to stay tuned next week as we look back at a classic Nintendo franchise that is overdue for a comeback.