Review: Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble - Gamecube

It's like Smash Bros. - but not

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Good: Art style, varying objectives

Bad: Too much chaos onscreen

RIYL: Playing Smash Bros. while on copious amounts of cocaine

On paper, Red Hot Rumble probably looked like a good idea. You've got an interesting license in Viewtiful Joe, fused with the basic gameplay format of Super Smash Bros. Unfortunately, the execution of this idea is completely terrible, and it's a shock that the developers put this game out while knowing full well how unplayable it can be at times.

There is one giant flaw with Red Hot Rumble: far, far too much happening at once on the screen, and no easily discernable way to figure out what's going on. It's just a huge, ugly mishmash of coins, characters, flashy attacks and background elements that bombard the gamer. With everything going on at once, it's nearly impossible to keep tabs on where your character is, who you're attacking, or what you're trying to achieve.

Basic combat controls are almost identical to the Nintendo series. You can perform standard punches and kicks, as well as several special moves. In addition to these, you can also collect Mach Speed, Slow-Mo, Zoom, and Sound Effects powerups. Mach Speed allows you to run anywhere on screen you'd like, damaging anyone you touch. Slow-Mo behaves just as it did in the VJ adventure games. Zoom makes your character larger, and Sound Effects allow you to generate "THUD" and "WHIF" sound bubbles to hurt your enemies with. Mach Speed is definitely the best, and the others don't necessarily translate well to this kind of gameplay.

Instead of the typical Smash Bros. system of "beat them up until you knock them off the stage," Red Hot Rumble introduces some new objective-based levels. One level may require you to destroy more opponents than the other player, while another may feature boss characters like a four-armed Mayan idol or a biplane-flying T-Rex. There is a huge variety of levels, and almost all of them are multi-tiered, featuring several consecutive objectives. If the actual gameplay was passable, this all would have been a great idea. Imagine a Smash Bros. round in which you have to destroy more Goombas or Koopas than your enemy (or collect the most coins), and you'll get a good idea of the unreached potential of Red Hot Rumble.

Cutscenes are very well done, perhaps even more so than the VJ adventure games. They've got a very anime-influenced look to them, and it fits the mood of the game perfectly. In-game graphics are similarly visually appealing, and feature the same interesting art style as the other VJ titles. Audio is in the same vein as previous entries, which means it's filled with tons of cheesy one-liners and exaggerated sound effects.

I can think of no reason to recommend this game, considering that Smash Bros. is the same basic concept, yet executed infinitely better. Hardcore Viewtiful Joe fans may have a good time battling with their favorite characters, but everyone else should steer clear.

Graphics: B

Sound: B-

First Play: D+

Last Play: D

Gameplay: D

Overall: 64% D

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