Lights, Camera, Action! Viewtiful Joe is now gracing the dual silver screens of the Nintendo DS.
I’ve been a fan of Viewtiful Joe since the day it was announced. The zany concept of invading the land of movies is one I love, as I am a huge movie buff. While there are no clear parodies of films in the E3 demo for Viewtiful Joe DS, the game still manages to retain the charm of its predecessors and also mixes in some remarkable new touch screen VFX powers.
Overall, gameplay is very similar to the other Viewtiful Joe games. As enemies go after Joe, they can be dodged and stunned. Stunning the bad guys leaves them open for a pummeling. The dual screens on the DS are utilized to show the main action on one screen and a close up on the other. VFX Powers from previous games are not in the demo on the show floor, but it’s likely that they will be added, as the Slow mechanic is key to Viewtiful Joe’s gameplay. Perhaps the previous powers are not included so the demo can focus on the brand new touch screen powers. Two are included in the show floor demo.
The first is called Split. This power enables the player to horizontally split the lower screen by drawing a line. Once the screen is split, the top half of it can be dragged back and forth. This power is mostly used to clear obstacles and solve puzzles. For example, in one scene there is a fire blocking Joe’s path. Near the fire is a water tank. Splitting the screen lets you drag the water tank over the fire to quell the flames. This power is really cool and greatly expands the puzzle elements of the series.
The other power is Switch. This power switches the top and bottom screens, so the zoom view is on the bottom. Once the screens are swapped, other options become available. Small enemies (such as dogs and bats) can be tapped and destroyed instantly. If a lever needs to be pulled, the player can swap the screens and then use the touch-screen to pull it. Finally, environmental objects can be rubbed and moved. The example in the demo has a large boulder headed towards Joe. Furiously rubbing the boulder will move it out of Joe’s way so he can continue along his path.
The game plays mostly with the D-pad and buttons, except when the touch VFX powers are used. Thankfully, the touch screen controls work very well when using a finger. This is extremely handy, as switching to the stylus during gameplay would be a major hassle.
The game looks surprisingly similar to the GameCube counterparts. The graphics are obviously not as detailed, but they look much better than most other DS games. The colors aren’t quite as vibrant and the character models are not as detailed, but the presentation is surprisingly similar to the console version.