Version Tested: PS3 Versions Available: PS3, Xbox 360
I’ve recently learnt to smile, laugh and grimace at the same time and it’s all thanks to Hello Games’ Joe Danger The Movie. The side scrolling stunt-based game takes the ideas presented in the first Joe Danger and successfully builds on them, creating something bigger and better in the process.
The original Joe Danger was a fan favourite on PSN where it was an exclusive title back in the day, but a move to Xbox Live with more content upset some of the core fanbase and the initial exclusive Microsoft deal for Joe Danger 2 didn’t really help matters. But Hello Games had always planned to come back to Sony’s console and their new version of the second Joe Danger game adds an impressive 10 hours of content with the new Joe Danger Gaiden mode.
The main levels immediately add a huge amount of variety when compared to the first game, with different movies forming the backdrop for each level. One minute you’ll be skiing down a hill, being chased by a giant avalanche, the next you’ll be on a jetpack, dodging robots who shoot huge cannonballs at you. The different vehicles and environments all require diverse strategies, making this a far broader game than the original, but it also feels as if the difficulty has been levelled out and getting stuck is only ever a temporary situation.
What you, as a player, get out of the game will depend on what type of gamer you are. If you just want to play the game through, getting from A to B and unlocking the next event then you can, by all means. You’ll probably find yourself on the last few levels within 3-4 hours of play, though. Luckily, Hello Games have added a whole bunch of levels that never made the original game, mainly because they were too hard, but they’re perfect for those who want to ramp up the challenge.
Most, though, will be tempted back to a level to unlock each of the stars; collecting all the items, bananas, pressing buttons and getting to the end within a certain time limit. Unlock all of these and you earn a Pro badge. It’s not easy, though, and here’s where the grimace comes in. Some later levels really require a good knowledge of the course, knowing exactly where to jump or duck or where the hidden DANGER letters are hiding. But it’s a good grimace, a grimace that is often punctuated with a laugh or, at the least, a smile because the game is so damn funny.
This is where Hello Games have excelled, even more so than with their first game. Joe has a number of wacky costumes to wear and he’s brought along a number of friends and enemies too, all of whom are brilliantly realised. Levels have so many neat touches, bright and colourful but with a level of background detail that always seems to hide a little gag or an inconsequential action piece that you’ll notice on your third or fourth run through. Everything feels as if it’s made with love and it spreads to your enjoyment of the game.
There are two more huge improvements that really make the game feel like a much bigger title this time around. The first is the new level editor. Easy to use and levels can be built and played over and over, in a very similar way to Little Big Planet, before committing them to the vast level designer heap ready for other players to download. It feels as if there’s a huge amount of freedom here, even though things manage to be kept relatively simple, and it can only lead to a wealth of content to keep fans coming back long after they’ve completed their final level.
The other is ghost racing against four other players. This can be turned off in the menu, but why do that when it’s so much fun to have that extra challenge? Asynchronous racing is all the rage at the moment and Joe Danger The Movie is happy tease you with those times your friends are laying down, knowing full well that you’ll be tempted back time and time again to try and beat them. The global and friend leaderboard for each track cements this relationship with scores and times, just as Trials HD and its sequel so successfully managed to do. Only the lack of a full online racing mode seems to be missing from the game, the ghost mode and local four player racing acting as an adequate but less favourable substitute.
Joe Danger The Movie allows the ageing stuntman to return to the PS3 in style, with plenty of replay value and a cool set of new clothes that should please both the fans and newcomers alike.