Viewtiful Joe DS: Hands-On

Everyone's favorite new-age action hero is back to take his movie-themed adventure mobile with all the benefits of the DS.

Viewtiful Joe DS is a continuation of Capcom's popular action-platforming franchise that hit GameCube and then PS2. A year later, the sequel graced both consoles, and now Capcom is migrating the next chapter of its innovative action-platformer to the DS.

Joe springs back into action, this time in an effort to ward off a potential disaster waiting to befall the 'Movie Studio' theme park after an evil new force has descended upon it, disrupting the location shoot of Captain Blue's new film. Like any respectable superhero, Joe is ready to spring into action at a moment's notice in order to thwart the evil plans using his new superpowers, as well as a new ally in his little wanna-be actress of a sister, Jasmine! With Jasmine replacing Jessica as Joe's new sidekick the game certainly leaves itself open to all sorts of Wonder Twin power jokes now.

The action in Viewtiful Joe DS is presented in the same side-scrolling, cel-shaded manner as its predecessors, while also introducing a number of new gameplay features that totally set it apart from the rest. The game controls really well and players can perform Joe's basic jump, punch, kick, and jumping attack moves with ease.

Unfortunately Joe's ultra cool VFX powers such as 'Slow' and 'Mach Speed' seemed to be absent from the demo we played so we spent a good portion of the demo running around performing his normal punching and kicking moves against the enemies we encountered. A disappointment really, but we hung in there since we're big fans of the wise-cracking super hero. The majority of the enemies we encountered in the demo were the typical movie thugs encountered in the previous games along with bats, among others.

Despite the absence of Joe's familiar VFX powers in the demo, the interesting new gameplay features that have made their way into the DS version sort of made up for it. Utilizing the touch screen function, players can now manipulate the action in a variety of ways using the 'Joe camera'. In doing so, with the swiping or rubbing motion of your stylus or finger across the middle of the touch screen, you can split the bottom screen "in half" and slide one portion of it around - and in turn, move certain objects around to solve physical puzzles and obstacles. It adds a very interesting new dynamic to the already ultra cool Joe experience.

But that's not all, as the action is displayed on the bottom screen in normal side-scrolling fashion while the top screen maintains a close-up view of the Viewtiful Joe character, players can in effect switch the screens around, enhancing Joe's attacks and allowing players to make ample use of the game's increased level of interaction by easily plucking away at the zoomed-in enemies with their stylus or thumb, as well as further interacting with the gaming environments in order to acquire certain out-of-the-way items, or flip switches and operate levers in order to progress further. Cool!

Graphically, the DS pulls off the cel-shaded noir visuals of Viewtiful Joe quite well, displaying smooth scrolling background graphics and character animations. While the visuals lack the graphical quality of its console brethrens, which is to be expected given the DS spec, Viewtiful Joe DS still looks pretty solid overall.

While Viewtiful Joe VFX Battle has also been announced for the GameCube console and PSP handheld, and adopts a more Versus-style of play akin to the Smash Bros. games, our eyes are locked firmly on the DS version of the game, which fortunately continues the action-platforming gameplay that made the first two games such highly acclaimed titles.

Overall, our time with the Viewtiful Joe DS demo, while incredibly brief, provided us with a good enough feel for how the game is shaping up and the unique new gameplay features provided by the touch screen feature. Once getting over the initial hurdle of properly utilizing the touch screen panel during gameplay players will no doubt be on their way to enjoying another grand, Viewtiful adventure.

Viewtiful Joe DS is currently slated for a Winter release. Stay tuned for any updates.

Joseph Jackson
Executive Editor, Kikizo Games

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Viewtiful Joe DS
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