A couple of years ago, 2D side-scrolling actioners were the floppy old peckers of the gaming world. Then along came Viewtiful Joe, injecting an elephant-sized dose of Viagra back into the 2D scene.
So when Capcom first announced that a follow-up to its insanely fresh fighter was on the horizon, pulses peaked. We were pumped with excitement at the prospect of getting hands-on with all the innovative new features that would no doubt be included in the sequel. But since then we've had the chance to blaze through a few of the opening stages of VJ2, and were miffed to discover that this feels more like an update than an all-new second chapter.
We weren't expecting superhuman leaps when it came to graphics, but it looks so damn similar to its predecessor it's untrue. That said, enough tweaks have been made to the enemies so that it feels slightly fresher. You'll now have to duck and dive out of the path of dual laser-wielding mechanical mice and fend off the likes of face-hugging mini Matrix-style sentinels.
The inclusion of Silvia as an alternative playable character's cool. Taking her into battle enables you to tackle fight scenarios with different tactics, as she's the queen of long-range attacks thanks to her throbbing pink laser weapon.But the addition of Silvia is no substitute for the distinct lack of new VFX powers. ONE! One measly new ability: Replay. This new talent lets you record an attack, and automatically plays it back three times, unleashing triple the damage. But if you get twatted by an enemy while recording, you'll get a trio of whuppings. It's a decent idea, but it just ain't enough, even for hardcore Viewtiful fans.
However, with Viewtiful Joe 2's mysterious two-player co-operative action still being kept under wraps, Clover Studios could be keeping its top trumps close to its chest. Let's just hope it lays its cards on the table sharpish, before we lose faith in mighty young Joe.
We're HUGE VJ fans, so to find the sequel skimping on striking new features has left us a little cold. It still feels like VJ, but where's the innovation, people?