Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble Review
Red Hot Rumble retains the great style and attitude the series is known for. But the scatterbrained combat isn't good enough to make it appealing to anyone but the most loyal Viewtiful Joe fans.
- Great storyline featuring familiar Viewtiful Joe characters
- This game retains the slick presentation and style the series is known for
- Good music and voice acting.
- The action is just too chaotic and confusing
- It's often difficult to tell where your character is on the screen, especially in multiplayer
- Battles consist of frenzied, unsatisfying button-mashing
- Unbalanced cast of characters.
Ever since Nintendo broadened the concept of a fighting game with its mascot-driven Smash Brothers series, other companies have tried--and ultimately failed--to capture the controlled chaos that made the Smash Brothers titles a couple of the most successful games on their respective platforms. Super Smash Brothers Melee came out almost four years ago, and it's still one of the most heralded games on the GameCube, if you can believe it. It makes sense then that another company would try to emulate that kind of long-term success, and of all the publishers in the industry, Capcom is in about the best position to launch a successful mascot melee game. Not only is Capcom well versed in fighting games, but it has also created some of the most recognizable characters in the industry. So, when Capcom announced that it was going to publish a melee game based in the Viewtiful Joe universe, it just kind of made sense. After all, Viewtiful Joe is full of all kinds of interesting characters, and the games have always focused on simple, but challenging combat mechanics. Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble does get plenty of those things right. The style and attitude are available in spades, but unfortunately the battles just feel sloppy and unsatisfying. There are some great singular mechanics in play here, but they're all just tossed together in a mess of flashy effects and shallow gameplay.
The story in Red Hot Rumble is pretty straightforward. Captain Blue has retired from being a superhero and has decided to direct a movie. He's having a problem casting the lead role, though. So along with his sexy but otherwise uninteresting assistant, Sprocket, Captain Blue hatches a plan to hold an audition in the form of a series of all-out brawls. The toughest and most stylish will certainly win, and that someone will be cast as the lead in the movie. Just about everyone from the two Viewtiful Joe games shows up for their chance at the glitz and glamour of becoming a big-time movie star. You end up fighting battle after battle in a series of different scenes on a variety of movie sets, with themes ranging from a Western town to Atlantis. Each scene is divided into several battles against at least one other opponent.
The battles in Red Hot Rumble each have a specific objective that you have to complete in order to win. You might have to destroy as many enemies as possible, be the last one standing, defeat a boss character, collect gems, or even shoot down a comet by attacking certain switches within the level. By completing these objectives and performing better than your opponent, you'll earn coins. The coins are used as a gauge of how well you are performing in the audition. You'll collect coins by completing objectives, but you can also just pick up coins as you play because they're everywhere. You can also beat up your opponents and steal their coins.
You have several different moves and special abilities at your disposal, and the moves differ quite a bit depending on which character you're using. There are 16 characters in the game, although most of them are locked when you start. There are familiar characters like Joe, Sylvia, Hulk Davidson, and Gran Bruce, as well as new characters like Android Rachel and Sprocket. The characters aren't very well balanced, though. For example, some characters have weak attacks and can't move very fast or jump very high, while others have super-powerful attacks and can fly around the screen with ease. Sometimes you'll feel completely limited in battle simply because your character just can't keep up. However, it doesn't always matter, because even if you're a terrible fighter you can just run around collecting coins and you'll probably end up winning the battle on coins alone, regardless of whether or not you even tried to complete the objective. To its credit, the game does have some stipulations that prevent you from simply grabbing coins in every battle. In some scenes, there are certain conditions you have to fulfill, like having to win two battles, or getting knocked down no more than two times. If you fail to meet those conditions, you lose instantly and have to start the scene over again. It's kind of a cheap way to compel you to play carefully, but it works.