Review: Are you ready for the
Royal Red Hot Rumble?
Everyone knows Joe and his Viewtiful side-scrolling adventure games. However, Red Hot Rumble isn't your average Joe title to the extent that it doesn't take on the usual platform genre. Instead, Capcom's 2D superhero makes his PSP debut in a beat-?em-up port of the GameCube game that shares the same name. This Super Smash Bros. clone makes some minor improvements over last year's version, but for the most part, the fast-paced gameplay and flaws remain intact. It's disappointing that the first Viewitful Joe on the system isn't a 2D platform game, the genre that the side-scrolling friendly PSP screen is hurting for the most, but the game still provides short bursts of flashy fun while ?Henshin is on the go-go, baby.?
Red Hot Rumble has a simple storyline wrapped around a slick presentation. Captain Blue is retiring from starring in action films and is moving behind the camera to sit in the director's chair. However, he's not going to just pick anyone to fill his superhero boots. Actors have to ?audition? and by ?audition,? I mean fight it out with familiar characters from the Viewtiful Joe games and Kids' WB cartoon. The idea pits fellow and rival actors like Joe, Sylvia and Captain Blue Jr. against each other in a series of three scenes and a boss battle that make up every movie.
The goal of each scene varies. Many level objectives are pretty standard in that they ask you to collect more gems or defeat more enemies than your rival. Others are more creative. One level, for example, puts a green circle on one end of the screen and a red X on the other end. In order to collect gems and avoid danger, you must run to the green circle side before the path is blocked. It's really fun hitting your rival to the other side at the last second; guaranteeing they see danger from a falling rock and you receive all of the gems.
Kicking it up a notch, the game includes VFX orbs that can be collected and used during battles. You'll be able to let loose with mach speed, take your time with slow motion, make yourself big with zoom and pack a power punch with sound effects. There are also Super VFX orbs that initiate a warp portal to mini-games. These little diversions ask everyone to mash down buttons or correct time a specific face button. It's nothing too challenging, but serves as a break from the hectic battles.
All of the levels attempt to offer this sort of frantic fun, but at times, it can be too chaotic. The game does a nice job of filling up the screen with enemies and objects and keeping the frame rate as a blistering pace; however, it's too easy to lose track of your character in the midst of all the action. This leads to lots of confusion and, at times, frustration, especially if four players are involved. It also leads to a lot of button mashing.
The control scheme is relatively easy to pick up with jump, attack and super attack assigned to the face buttons and VFX orbs initiated by the shoulder buttons. Nevertheless, there'll be times when you'll mash all of them at once since you won't always know where your character is on the screen. Mashing helps you get through certain levels, but it lacks a real feel of where your character is and what you're doing in the level, which threatens the vitality of the game.
While the button mashing and gameplay confusion flaws from the GameCube edition weren't fixed in time for the PSP release, Capcom did add some exclusive additions to the portable version. First, Dante from Devil May Cry makes an appearance in the storyline and serves as a playable character once he is unlocked. His weapons are a sword and a gun, both of which get the job done. Trail Mode is also new, joining the Story Mode, CPU VS Mode and Network Mode. Compared to the rest of the modes, Trial Modes isn't as exciting as the meat of the game, the Story Mode. Network Mode and CPU VS Mode do a good job of meeting and exceeding the Story Mode's thrills with four players battling it out all at once. One nice will nugget is that Game Sharing is enabled, so you only need one copy of the game to play with friends.