Viewtiful Joe Double Trouble

Capcom's Viewtiful Joe is such an excellent 2D series that it makes sense to bring it to a portable system, which is why the company's decided to grace us with a Nintendo DS title called Scratch! Viewtiful Joe. Featuring classic Joe gameplay with a dash of touch screen functionality, it may be one of the DS's brightest games and a weapon Nintendo will need to combat Sony's PSP.

While Capcom hasn't released many details (we'll probably get to actually play the game at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo), Scratch! takes place in an amusement park, which is where the new Captain Blue movie is being filmed. Unfortunately, and because we wouldn't have a game if someone evil didn't get involved, some dude named Madou swoops in and jacks the final copy. As the stylish and immensely cool super hero Viewtiful Joe, it's up to you to track down Madou, beat the hell out of him and get it back.

At its core Scratch! Viewtiful Joe bears a striking resemblance to the previous two games. A 2D side scrolling beat-em-up, you run from left to right and annihilate all sorts of wacky enemies while at the same time making use of your neat abilities that allow you to slow down and speed up the gameplay. However, unlike the upcoming PSP Viewtiful Joe, which is tentatively titled Viewtiful Joe: VFX Battle, Scratch! features a lot more gameplay interaction.

All of the action takes place on the bottom screen, and using your fingers in conjunction with the touch screen you're able to alter the gameplay environments. One of Joe's new moves, which has been dubbed Split VFX, allows you to cut things in half and transport them to another location, so it's possible to break something and drop it onto enemies that are off screen. This is accomplished in conjunction with the top screen, which supposedly lets you check out other parts of the level.

I'm not expecting this game to come close to matching the previous Viewtiful Joe's visuals but early screens look promising. The art style is very familiar to the other games in the series, and since the DS is certainly a very capable machine, it should have no trouble running Scratch! without a hitch.

Finally, this Viewtiful Joe will introduce us to Joe's aspiring actress sister Jasmine, though I'm not sure whether we'll actually get to play as her. There are still many question marks regarding this game (especially a U.S. release date, though I expect Capcom to ship it to stores this fall), but most of its secrets will probably be revealed at this year's E3.