Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble retains the same great style and attitude on the PSP, but the game is too fast and frantic for its own good.
- 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
- Special content and game sharing exclusive to the PSP.
- 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.
Capcom has shown that it is fully capable of delivering fast and fun 2D fighters on the PSP. Dark Stalkers Chronicle and Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX are the best fighting games currently available on the PSP, but as if that weren't enough, Capcom has brought yet another fighting game to Sony's handheld. Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble is a port of the GameCube title of the same name, with a few added goodies that are exclusive to the PSP. These bonuses are nice, but this version of the game still suffers from the same problems as the console version. The Viewtiful Joe style and attitude are here in spades, but unfortunately the battles just feel sloppy and unsatisfying. There are some great singular mechanics in play, 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 he or she 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. So you end up fighting battle after battle against an array of quirky characters 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.
Each battle in Red Hot Rumble has 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 them up 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 well more than 20 characters in the game when you include each character's alternate forms and costumes, although most of them are locked when you start playing. There are familiar characters like Joe, Sylvia, Hulk Davidson, and Gran Bruce, as well as new characters like Android Rachel and Sprocket. There are also some exclusive characters that you'll only find in the PSP version of the game, the most notable of whom is Dante, of Devil May Cry fame. Unfortunately, the characters aren't very well balanced, because 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. It doesn't always matter though, 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. For example, you might have to win two battles, or get 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.