Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble PSP Review

Ever since I saw the first screenshots of a VJ game when it was first announce as part of the infamous Capcom 5 I knew it was a franchise I’d love. I had planned to buy the game long before I knew how it played just because I liked the look of what I saw. Thankfully, the gameplay lived up to the delightfully colourful screen and the first VJ tuned out to be a critical success (and one of my favourite games of all time). After a direct sequel and a few more games on a collection of platforms VJ finally comes to the PSP. It may look the same as it’s always done but now it plays very different. Is it still “Henshin a go-go, baby” or should Joe just stop while he’s ahead?

Red Hot Rumble’s story begins with the great Captain Blue announcing his retirement. Following this shocking revelation it is revealed that he is now the next big movie director to hit the scene. As you would expect every big director needs a lead role for their new movie but instead of having normal auditions both Captain Blue and his beautiful well endowed assistant Sprocket decided to arrange a huge brawl with the winner eventually getting hold of the lead actor/actress position. This of course sets the scene for an assortment of missions to take place during the course of the game.

The game’s fighting engine is very basic with only a small collection of moves given to each character. The power of the moves really depends on which character you pick with only a small number of the 20 characters (including Joe, Sylvia, Hulk Davidson, and Gran Bruce, as well as new characters like Android Rachel, Sprocket and Dante) having a nice collection of high powered moves to dish out some heavy damage. When some characters are pitted up against each other the gulf in power is very noticeable as some can do more damage with one hit than others can do with a whole combo. Some VFX orbs can be collected during fights to let loose powers like mach speed, slow motion and zoom to deal more damage. There are also Super VFX orbs that initiate mini-games when you jump a warp portal. Sadly, the gameplay seems to be far too hectic with too much happening on screen at one time, when you couple this with unbalanced characters the game ends up being more frustrating rather than having any basis in enjoyment.

Of course that’s just the main story mode we have talked about but there are a few other options to play around with. These are Trial Mode, CPU VS Mode and Network Mode. CPU VS Mode plays just like you would expect it to. In Trial Mode the game tests you against a collection of challenges similar to Story Mode where you try and beat records. Game Sharing is also enabled in RHR which of course means you only need one copy of the game to play with friends.

The game definitely looks like a VJ title with a myriad of bright, vibrant colours emanating from the PSP screen at all times. The 2.5D style that the series has made famous over the years is out in full force during battles but alas some of the arena’s backgrounds can at times look very barren. This of course can be forgiven as an intense amount of action is taking place on screen at an almost chaotic pace so very little chance is given to check out the surroundings. Even though there is a lot going on the game frame rate remains very steady at all times with no notice slowdown rearing its ugly head. The game sounds can be best described as adequate as they seem like they are just there to be functional but nothing more. There will be always some type of high tempo music blasting through the earphones as you play though the title and the music style may suit the game but none of the compositions are highly memorable. The sound effects also lack any oomph or base and due to the intense action sound more like a success of scrapes and scratches rather than anything of meaning. The voice work is okay but some of the one-liners can begin to irritate as they repeat far too much.

Perhaps Red Hot Rumble’s biggest downfall is this quick pace I have mentioned at many times throughout this review. Almost every mission breaks down into an exercise in button bashing after about 10 seconds play as you struggle to find out where you character is on screen. The selection of mini-games may break this up a bit but there is no denying that the game is best played in shorts burst as continuous play for anything exceeding 30mins leaves each mission feeling almost a mirror of the one that preceded it. Fans of the VJ series will be the only people interested in picking up this title but due to a lack of Joe’s trademark side-scrolling even the most avid of fans will soon grow tired.

7.2 out of 10

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