Joe Danger SE Review
Microsoft Xbox 360
Need a break from the the epic open world of Skyrim? Bored of FPS after FPS? Joe Danger SE on the Xbox 360 may be just the game for you. Effortlessly mixing a cute fun cartoon style with addictive Trials HD type gameplay and throwing in not only a wealth of top notch content but also a level editor, there are many many hours of ‘something a little different’ to be found for a measly 1200msp.
Originally released approximately a year ago as a PS3 exclusive the team at Hello Games have been beavering away on a new special edition which is now being released exclusively on the Xbox Live Arcade platform. An excellent idea indeed, adding new content for any dual console owners as well as tapping in to the plethora of new users who have not had the pleasure of enjoying the title on the PS3.
For Xbox 360 owners the obvious comparison is to the Trials HD XBLA title, but Joe Danger is only really similar in that you take control of a dude on a bike and the game view is a mixture of 2D and 3D. You take control of our hero as he bids to resurrect his failing stuntman career, giving you the ability to progress through his comeback along with the main new content addition, the Lab. Progress at first seems straightforward, manage the little man (well chubby) across a cleverly designed stunt track collecting stars as you go to unlock new stages. However you soon realise that playing this way barely scratches the surface of Joe Danger as the game places all the emphasis on pure joyous fun. Stunts (naturally) are the focus of each level alongside collectibles and random per level objectives, but the stunt work takes centre stage and heavily influences success.
Just getting to the finish line will not get the job done!
Soon you will find yourself caught up in a world of stunt combos, chaining stunt moves together and performing insane combo feats to best a level. Each level contains a rich variation of stunt elements along with collectibles and up to eight tailored level objectives, which if achieved add to your level score and in turn improve your progression through the campaign. These objectives can be done in any order and add nicely to the game’s reply value. Also a nice little touch, and to be fair quite standard these days, is that the levels not only have gold, silver & bronze set scores to try to best but each scoreboard includes all your friend’s times. It becomes terribly addictive very quickly when trying to beat a mate’s score on a certain level, all the while meeting the key objectives. Sure there will be times when you will find yourself wondering how the hell they achieved the score but the game is so much damn fun you will not give up in anger, you will continue on and keep trying to beat that score.
Whilst not particularly deep when first booted up, don’t let this fool you. The more you play the more you realise the mammoth amount of content you are getting for your 1200msps. The fairly lengthy and frankly bonkers campaign, the head to head events and the lab all add up to an awful lot of game for your money - the campaign alone is a few hours of unbridled joy and there is tons of replay value.
In an effort to avoid repetition and level re-use the game uses several nice tricks to mix things up a little. Avoiding the mundane trap of racing from A to B there are multi-level tracks along with tracks that have various branching paths, thus meaning the track is not in one big straight line. Some tracks go a step further and encourage back tracking for collectibles.
The controls are tight and intuitive but will take you some time to master. Keeping up your combo will refill your boost meter and the array of stunts, especially in combination with boosting is fantastic. All of the stunts it’s worth noting contain some great comedic animations, some of which will make you laugh out loud. As a result you may need to replay some levels but that is by no means a bad thing at all.
Throughout the entire game in fact the presentation works its magic on you. You are pulled, with a smile on your face it must be noted, into the crazy world of Joe Danger with superb cartoon graphics, colourful animated back drops and splendid laugh out loud character animations.
As the title was launched on the PS3 many moons ago as a gamer you’d be right to expect some enhancements and to be fair to the team at Hello Games the 360 version brings quite a few to the table, namely:
- Enhanced loading times over the original
- Enhanced anti-aliasing
- New playable characters
- The Lab
- Pro Medals
The lab is an interesting edition as it takes place outside of the usual confines of the Joe Danger career mode and provides a smaller, more stunt intensive experience. There are far fewer levels than that of the career mode but don’t let that put you off as they are even more bonkers and delightful. The lab levels are compact and heavily focused on you pulling out every trick in the book to beat each level and achieve that elusive top score. As you progress you will be tested, the levels are tight, intense, sometimes infuriating but ultimately as with the rest of the game just great fun.
Pro medals also introduce a series of collectibles into each level, providing a new tier of competition for you and your mates. Collecting all of these is often a tricky task but as with most online games providing a unique feeling when beating a friend online.
Joe Danger is a fantastic bit of ‘something different’, offering a world of stunts, time trials and collectibles to get lost in. A perfect break from the onslaught of AAA games that the Autumn threw at gamers. The price point is completely justified given the amount of game you get for your money and one could argue that the amount of fun Joe Danger brings to the table the game is a bargain. It feels old school and in a really good way - an XBLA gem that is highly recommended.