Viewtiful Joe is a side scrolling beat-em-up that debuted on the Gamecube. IT was alter ported to the PS2, adding Dante from Devil May Cry as a playable character. It was a very stylish game that incorporated the fact that the characters were literally inside a movie into the gameplay (slow motion and mach speed powers, etc). It also had a sequel, Viewtiful Joe 2, and a handheld sequel , Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble for the DS. It even had an anime series! So, you have a popular game with interesting mechanics, and lots of unique characters. Sounds like the recipe for a great Powerstone or Smash Bros. style fighter, doesn't it? That's what bothers me so much about Red Hot Rumble - I played the main games, and I know how amazing this game could have been.
I do have to say, this game keeps the series signature visual flare. The screen may be downsized, but there's plenty of vibrant colors and that comic book style is just as prevalent no matter how big the screen is. Too bad the game doesn't play as god as it looks.
Looking at some screen shots, you would see 2-4 characters and colored health gauges. From that analysis, you would probably conclude that Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble is a party fighter akin to Powerstone or Smash Bros. The reality is that each stage has multiple "objectives". these can range from kill the most enemies and deal the most damage to the boss to collect more diamonds than the other players. I think they were trying to set themselves apart with this feature, but in the end it just brings the game down. You'd think they would at least just throw in 1 mode where you can have straight up fights, but they don't. The most you can do is pick a stage in which one of the objectives is "Be the alst man standing".
Often in the middle of an objective, a wormhole will open and suck in all the players for a mini game.It breaks up the action and becomes monotonous and annoying after only a couple of times. It just seems pointless, and I don't know why they chose to add this in. If I want to play Mario Party, I'll play Mario Party.
You may be wondering how they implemented the Slow Mo and Mach Speed abilities that were a defining feature of the main games. I can answer that question with a single word - horribly. The "VFX" powers as they are called will appear randomly on stages in the form of a colored orb with a "V" on it. The first player to pick it up gets that ability and can use it by pressing L. It would have been much better if they had given certain characters certain VFX powers and had a VFX gauge or something. To make matter worse, the game doesn't exactly control wodnerfully. Button inputs are fine, but movement is annoying. sing the D-pad gets tiring on your thumb, and the characters just feel still when using the thumb slider. Each character has 2 attacks, like Super Smash Bros., and can jump, etc. Aside from their attacks there is little variation in the characters. there are multiple control layouts if you don't like the default, but no matter what you do you're going to have to deal with the stiff movement.
The story in this game is quite simple - Captain Blue is going to retire, so he is going to test the abilities of the contestants and whoever is the most "kick-butt" will get the starring role. Now, personally if I was going to pick a star for an action film, I wouldn't base my decision on his ability to collect falling diamonds and pop balloons.
The voice acting is on par with the rest of the series, and the script is quite comical as you would expect from a Viewtiful Joe game. I found it especially funny when I paused to game to reply to an instant message, and Captain Blue's voice chimed it with the ironic statement of "Uh,uh,uh! No talking on the computer!" Likewise, the music is just what is to be expected - fast paced and frantic.
Viewtiful Joe is an excellent series with unique, awesome characters who would make a great fighting game roster. The games beat-em-up origins and awesome VFX system is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a side scroller. Both of these elements seems like they would make an amazing fighting game. In fact, I would think it virtually impossible to royally screw up the idea of a Viewtiful Joe fighting game had I not played Red Hot Rumble for the PSP. This game is also available on the Gamecube, and the mechanics seem to be a bit different from what I've seen. There appears to be hearts for health, like in the main series, in the Gamecube version as well as a VFX gauge. IT's quite possible that the Gamecube version changes things and makes a better game, but I have no played it as of writing this review and therefore I cannot say. The only comparison I can rightfully make is to tell you that on the PSP, Dante and Trish from Devil May Cry are playable. Overall, despite the appealing cast and script there is nothing worth praising here. Stay away from this one. This games claims to be "red hot", but in reality it's just mild. If you don't believe me, it only costs around $3 used.