On the whole, it seems like Clover Studio has delivered just what the fans would want. Viewtiful Joe 2 is a textbook follow-up. More of the same (with some of the enemies perhaps a bit too
samey), a few new twists and an altogether longer experience. However, in the true tradition of video-game reviews we reserve the right to start making pedantic criticisms of a game we love in the last couple of paragraphs. So. The first obvious disappointment is the lack of a two-player mode. The introduction of Sylvia as a playable character would have been an ideal opportunity to establish some co-op credentials, but, alas, there?s none of that. Viewtiful Joe 2?s closest genre rivals, Alien Hominid and the re-released Metal Slug 3 both boast 2-player modes, and so this omission does seem more noticeable by comparison.
There are also still issues with the difficulty setting. Although games of this ilk do depend on a lack of save points and a general trickiness to prolong longevity, it would be nice to have a greater range of options in VJ2. ?Kids? mode is still pretty tricky, and ?Adults? mode is nails. We would have welcomed a genuine ?kids? setting, some kind of ?teenager? setting and maybe a ?grand old wizard? setting for the chosen few (like VJ Revival's legendary 'Sweet' mode). But really, we?re quibbling. ?Kids? works well as a ?challenging? mode and ?Adults? works well as a test of gaming supremacy. And whilst it is fair to say that many will find VJ2 too difficult, or simply too frustrating to enjoy, this was always intended as a fairly hardcore interpretation of a classic gameplay style, and for the most part, people who pick this up will be able to deal with what?s thrown at them.
SPOnG Rating: A-
Viewtiful Joe 2 is another of this year?s most pleasing sequels. It does the same as its excellent forefather in a slightly better way. Newcomers might find this version slightly more well-rounded, whilst existing fans will spot just enough new twists to keep it all feeling fresh. It looks fantastic in a unashamedly brash 2D way, and there?s pure gameplay goodness oozing from the seams of Joe?s spandex suit. It?s certainly worth viewing in full when it hits PAL shores at the beginning of April.