Game: "Viewpoint"
System: Neo Geo
Genre: Arcade
Published by: Other

Reviewer: -RoG-
Posted: 11/24/2008

Review: Viewpoint is a classic diagonal scrolling shooter with an isometric point of view and was first released for the Neo Geo MVS (Multi Video System) arcade platform. Now before I go any further with this review, I must warn you to accept absolutely no substitutes for this game. Do not bother with the Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn/Genesis or even the Neo Geo CD versions of Viewpoint, because there's just too much slowdown in them and they don't look as good either.

I'm a huge fan of shooters, and Sega's Zaxxon was always one of my favorites as a kid because of the completely different isometric perspective it had, so when I first saw Viewpoint I knew I absolutely had to try it. What I didn't know what just how hard beating the game would prove to be. I have to say, without the ability to save states, I don't see how anybody could possibly beat this game without spending a FORTUNE in quarters. To say that there are a million ways for you to easily die would be an understatement. If you've ever played a games like Ikaruga, you know how the screen can seemingly be blanketed with gunfire at times with practically no place for you to hide. The same can be said for Viewpoint, only the gunfire moves faster and it's much harder to avoid being hit due to the odd perspective and all the other motion taking place on the screen.

Sounds frustrating, doesn't it? You bet your ass it is. But it's a good frustrating. A damned good frustrating! The levels are designed brilliantly, with a seemingly never-ending array of creative enemies looking to thwart your progress. I should also note that it features some extremely nice pre-rendered 3D graphics, which at the time of viewpoint's release, looked pretty impressive and they still hold up today. Some enemies move like a slinky, while others spin in every which direction (much likes the discs in Xevious), others are just completely random such as rolling wheels, fiery worms and robo-fish.

There are six levels in total, and some of them seem to go on forever due to how difficult it is to reach the end of them. With so much up against you, naturally you're going to need some help along the way. Your ship comes equipped with standard bullets, and you can hold the button down to charge a more powerful blast. You can also acquire two drones who will stay by your side at all times, firing additional bullets and absorbing some shots. If you're careful enough, you can even use the drones to run into and destroy certain enemies. Lastly, there are three mega weapons that you can gain on each level: a wall of fire, a nuclear bomb and a flurry of homing missiles. While they're all capable of dishing out a lot o' damage, the real trick is managing to save them for the boss fights at the end of each level. Believe me, you're gonna need 'em.

The boss fights in Viewpoint are absolutely phenomenal. Naturally, they take up a large portion of the screen, and they include a giant robotic crab, a totem pole, a fly, and more. Each boss goes through a variety of phases, and most of the time, when you think you've finally killed it, you quickly learn that you've only peeled off another layer and made it angrier. Also, be forewarned, level 5 is absolute hell because you have to fight all four of the bosses from the previous levels before you can fight the new one. Kind of odd they chose to do that on level 5 instead of level6, eh? Well, that's probably because level 6 is so hard that it feels like you're in a boss fight the entire time. Good luck making it to the final boss with all 3 mega weapons and your shields intact; it took me a friggin' eternity!

As if all this wasn't enough, it has a great, albeit funky soundtrack which actually features samples of the godfather of soul himself, James Brown. Yep, James Brown and a space-age shooter game... together at long last.

This is one of those games that, if you manage to beat it, you'll feel as though you've improved your hand-eye coordination tenfold as a result of it all. And while the ending itself isn't much more than seeing a planet explode and the credits awkwardly scroll by in the same isometric diagonal way as the game itself, being able to tell everybody "I beat Viewpoint!" should be rewarding enough. It's a truly unique title with impressive graphics, highly creative enemies and one hell of a challenge. Probably the most difficult shooter I've ever played, and that's saying a lot. I just can't recommend this game enough and hope you'll do whatever it takes to track it down and experience it for yourselves.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Nov 24th, 2008, 07:52 AM
You come for the space-age shooter, you stay for the James Brown.
per sempre vigilante
Nov 24th, 2008, 09:10 AM
Amen, Nick.
Lemonade Hand Grenade
Nov 24th, 2008, 05:58 PM
Viewpoint is deserving of it's five pickles. I remember when it came out and my friends were impressed by its quality but I think they were shit-scared of the difficulty. There's a few games that signalled an era for me, this and a Spanish game, Thunder Hoop (although it's stylings were certainly anime influenced. Both of which were so uniquely hard that I felt compelled to play. There's something about being good at a really difficult game rather than lauding over the uppercut in Mortal Kombat. One coin and an hour later equals kudos.
Nov 24th, 2008, 09:07 PM
This looks so badass that I can't wait to give it a try!!!
lurking on the walls
Nov 24th, 2008, 10:58 PM
I've seen the game around and it plays flawlessly
Turrican't. :(
Nov 29th, 2008, 09:58 AM
I LOVE THIS GAME! Wonderful gameplay, wonderful acid jazz/techno soundtrack! They changed it to some bad rave on the PS1 version, so Rog is right, ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
Forum Virgin
Apr 16th, 2010, 02:48 PM
I beat Viewpoint...and it took me 8 years.

Well not straight through. I would get frustrated and have to come back to it. I had a Neo-Geo the year they came out. I still own it with 13 cartridges, and Viewpoint is simply timeless. Even with a PS3, X-box 360 and Wii in my living room, I still break out the Neo-Geo from time to time.

I bought Viewpoint the year it came out. I was 16 years old and saved for months to purchase it(my parents never bought me a single video game...ever). It reminded me of Zaxxon as well so I had to have it. The game required an almost Zen understanding of its environment. I felt like I was in training for some higher level of consciousness during my play time. I would make it through the first several levels, get frustrated, move on to the next new game, and accept defeat. I did this through high school, and when I moved away from home, Viewpoint got tucked away for what I thought would be forever. That is, until I made a friend who shared my passion and skill level for gaming.

At the age of 24, I had a 16 year old friend who was the son of a co-worker. We both enjoyed gaming so I started introducing him to the older games I enjoyed. When I started telling him about how hard the game Viewpoint was, he simply didn't believe me. I popped in the cartridge and we began playing. By the end of the day I had made it back to level three. He learned from my patterns and made it to the same point. Then we hit the wall that is level four.

When the game came out, there was no internet. Since I only knew of one other person who even owned a Neo-Geo, finding strategies was literally impossible. There was nowhere to get strategies in 1991, but in 1999 we had the internet. I did a quick search and found several web pages talking about Viewpoint. No one had claimed to see past level four, and several forums even suggested levels five and six don't exist, since level four must be unbeatable. This set the stage for an obsession. We simply had to beat Viewpoint.

We began playing every day we could. While one of us played, the other analyzed and then tried applying what we saw on their turn. Eventually we started consistently making it to the caravan near the end of level four(a series of trailer like enemies that move around, blocking your path if you choose the wrong spot to hide in, crushing you). That spot was chaotic, and death was swift. I decided the best way to beat this dead end was to pick it apart. I hooked up an old VCR and started recording level four. Eventually we got that caravan down to a science.

The boss for level four was truly several steps above the previous three. We spent weeks on that crazy four headed totem. Once he fell, we cheered so loud my wife was startled from her sleep. A few hours later we had both beat him a second time. At that point, we knew this game was going to fall.

Level five went quickly. As a matter of fact, the first time boss four was beaten my friend went straight to the level five boss on the same turn. I have only beat the last boss twice. My friend did it three times. The following year we were bragging about how that game got spanked. We decided to play it again, for old times sake. After a lot of stumbling, we made it past the fourth boss again. One of us got to see the start of level six on a last life, but we realized the skill required to beat Viewpoint fades far quicker then gained. I don't know if I'll ever beat it again, but as long as my Neo-Geo will turn on, I'll come back from time to time to earn my humility.

Pickled Patriarch
Apr 17th, 2010, 04:22 PM
Haha awesome story Anselm... glad to see somebody had the fortitude to see their way through the entire game. It is ridiculously hard, but the design is so perfect and it truly keeps you on your toes the entire way through. I definitely need to get a copy of it for my home Neo Geo system so I can try playing co-op mode with a friend sometime. Soooo much fun.

Congrats on completing it... it's great to see another person who truly appreciates this unsung gem as much as I do.
Forum Virgin
Apr 17th, 2010, 08:08 PM
Thank you. I didn't even know about co-op mode till I read your article. I'll have to find out how to access it.

I beat it on MVS setting. I have two rules about my Neo-Geo games. One, I always play on MVS setting, regardless of how unskilled my guests are. Two, the older games that have unlimited continues are limited to three. I almost ended a friendship on Alpha Mission II when I made him reset after using the last continue at the end boss. Those house rules stem from when I was paying $200 a game at the age of 17. I wanted full value for my dollar. Since I beat so many of them that way the rule never dropped.

We eventually beat Alpha Mission II on three continues. My friend agreed is was well worth earning it.