Viewtiful Joe is a cel shaded 2D platform game, where the characters and levels are really in full 3D but only move in two dimensions, sometimes referred to as 2.5D. The main game is a platformer with the ability to slow down time, speed it up, or zoom in (like a movie) to do different moves and solve different puzzles. Originally part of the Capcom Five, VJ was a GameCube exclusive for a year, until it was ported to the PlayStation 2.
Joe, a huge movie fan (Particularly "henshin" movies, featuring action super heroes), is watching a movie with his girlfriend, Silvia, when the old hero Captain Blue is defeated. Suddenly, an arm reaches out of the screen, takes Joe's girlfriend, and retreats back into the movie world. Captain Blue's vehicle, Six Machine, in its final humanoid mech form, Six Majin, falls into the theater. It takes Joe into the movie world where he is taught the "Viewtiful" powers by Captain Blue. He becomes the red hot superhero Viewtiful Joe with the use of this V-Watch. Joe continues through Movie Land to save both his girlfriend and the real world.
The game is an old school platformer/beat-em-up with a high level of difficulty. You go through levels, which sometimes turn giving you the illusion of 3D movement when your character still only moves on a horizontal plane. You have standard platformer moves: Punches, kicks, double jumps, and dodges. Enemies jump in front of you and must be defeated before progressing too far on. You can usually combo them, but you mostly be using Joe's special VFX powers to gain an advantage.
VFX powers work only for a limited amount of time. This time is increased by collecting film reels throughout the level, much like coins in Super Mario Bros. or rings in Sonic the Hedgehog (game). Fifty film reels will give you one block on your VFX meter. The VFX powers are as follows:
- Slow slows everything down in a bullet time fashion, allowing your hits to do more damage, and see bullets/missiles making them easy to dodge & counter.
- Mach makes everything fast go fast. Joe can do quick combos, as well as be get a firey aura from going so fast.
- Zoom makes the camera focus in on Joe. Combined with Slow or Mach, Zoom allows Joe to do different, fancier, moves. It will also make nearby enemies strike a pose of fear.
Using these moves are an important part of the game. Other than defeating enemies and bosses, Joe can use the VFX powers to solve puzzles. For example, Slow can be used to make propellors on a platform slow down and fall, causing the platform to fall. Alternatively, Mach will make them speed up, and force the platform to rise.
Every level is broken up into 4 or 5 smaller levels, and in between these, you are sometimes given an "intermission". During the intermission, you can save your game (one save point per big level) or buy power-ups. To buy power-ups, you access a "shop" during intermission, spending any V-points you have acquired. You can acquire V-points by doing combos with your VFX powers, or by finding them throughout the level. These power ups include new moves, bombs & boomerangs to throw, extra lives, and a bigger HP meter.
- Charles the Third - A bat, and the first boss.
- Hulk Davidson - A green rhino with an axe.
- Gran Bruce - A street shark.
- Another Joe - Actually Alastor in disguise. Looks just like Joe, but with a purple visor.
- Alastor - Joe's rival. Same costume, but purple and black instead of red and white, and with wings and horns.
- Fire Leo - A flaming lion, who has some of the most unpredictable patterns in the game.
- King Blue - A giant, Six Majin-sized Captain Blue. Resembles King Mondo from Power Rangers.
- Captain Blue - Your mentor.