Viewtiful Joe's core gameplay is similar to a traditional side-scrolling beat 'em up. Taking control of Joe, the player is mostly limited to moving left, right, up, and down on a fixed 2D path. The game contains platforming elements such as the ability to jump and double jump. Combat consists of fighting multiple enemies on screen at once, with the enemies appearing from all directions, including the foreground and background. Joe has the ability to punch, kick, and dodge—which he can do by leaping upward or ducking. Dodging enemies' attacks successfully temporarily dazes them, leaving them wide open for attack. The player has certain number of hit points in the form of "Life Marks" located above the VFX Gauge, which decrease whenever Joe takes damage. Health can be restored by picking up hamburgers.
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