Joe Danger – Review

Joe Danger, £9.99 on PSN (£20 PSN money for £17.91)

Review by Lewie Procter

Joe Danger Artwork</a>

I’ve been playing this same level over and over. I’ve learnt every single obstacle. I know where they are, and I know how to get past them all. The controller has become an extension of my body, the buttons are mapped to my muscle memory in extreme detail.

I can do it. I know I have got a perfect run in me. Just one more try.

Of course, something always gets me. I smash my bike into a hurdle, I miss time my jump and land in a pit of spikes, or just can’t quite go fast enough. I’m kind of hazy as to exactly how long I’ve been repeating the same level, but the counter tells me that I have had over 500 attempts, and not one of them has been good enough.

Joe Danger really comes into a league of it’s own in the endgame. After the credits roll, the “Directors Cut” tour opens up, and it’s here where the level design has been completely let off the leash. It demands near perfection. I’m just not good enough yet.

It starts off as a much more friendly game. Before delving into the insanity of the last chapter, the premise is as simple as it gets. You are a bloke on the bike, and you need to go from left to right. You have to get the things that you have to get, and you have to avoid the things that you have to avoid. The controls are precise, but the physics are forgiving. You’re always in direct control of the bike, but you’re not going to get screwed over because you don’t quite land at the correct angle. Don’t let the motorbike trick you, this isn’t a racing game. Or, it is, but it’s not just a racing game. It’s much much more of a platformer than I expected it to be. In fact, I’d say Joe Danger is probably the closest we’re had to a decent Sonic platformer since the 90s.

Each level has several objectives, like “collect all the ministars”, “beat it in a certain time” or “combo the whole level”. This achieves several things. Firstly, it adds to the variety between the levels. Secondly, it adds to the replayabilty a lot, as you repeat levels to complete the objectives you missed first time round (it is often impossible to complete all objectives in just one go) and finally, it reminds me more than a little bit of Tony Hawk. It’s good that if and when you mess up by not quite beating a level on time, it wasn’t all wasted effort if you did combo the whole level.

The levels themselves are super duper fun. There are big silly cacti, massive jumps, and funny billboards. Bright colours are everywhere. A real nice touch that might go unnoticed are little flourishes some of the traps have. There are bombs and mouse traps that kill you instantly, but if you land them just right you can trigger them with the very bottom of your rear tire, and get a clean getaway. You don’t get any extra points or rewards, but that’s the life of the stuntman, sometimes just knowing you pulled it off is enough. I’ve not touched the level editor, because bollocks to that, but I bet more creative folk than I will make some amazing levels with it

The menu is all swish. Sometimes you don’t know quite where to look, but it’s pretty anyway.

Now the bad.

The leaderboards integration isn’t really up to the standard that you might expect from a modern high score orientated game. Information about which levels your friends are beating you at is hidden away under several button presses, and you can’t ever see all the information at once. I think that the competitive nature of the leaderboards is sadly probably going to suffer. Games like Trials HD and Retro Evolved 2, take every chance they can to pit you against your friends, and it’s a shame Joe Danger doesn’t.

The scoring system is a little bit bullshit too. The combo system is fantastic for normal use, but score is really only one component of how well you did on a level. The leaderboards only track “Score”, not “Time” or any of the other objectives. Since score is the only thing that leaderboards track, they don’t really represent who is best at a level, just who did more tricks on it. Did they not play Sonic 2 multiplayer?

There are also a few invisible walls, but whatever.

Honestly, I love Joe Danger. I love his cheeky grin, I love the sound his bike makes, and I love how he hopelessly flails his limbs as he careers head first towards a brick wall, and then gets right back on his bike for more. I probably wouldn’t have cared enough to moan about the small problems it does have if I hadn’t enjoyed it so much. You can’t miss out on Joe Danger.

1 Comment Leave yours

  1. I’m not enough of a fan of pure skill-based trial-and-error gameplay these days to care about Joe Danger. Maybe if it had level-ups, loot and FPS elements (sadly, I’m being serious here)….

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