If Demon’s Souls was like getting your head kicked in and asking for more, Joe Danger is like waking up in hospital the day after with Katy Perry sat by your side telling you she’s murdered Russell Brand and everything’s going to be just fine.
360 owners have been enjoying Trials HD, but Joe Danger has leapt over the competition – and a few school buses and shark tanks for good measure to top the podium. Boost, jump and trick your way to the finish line racking up gloriously brave combo multipliers on the way. The game works on multiple 2D planes like Little Big Planet, but with set points for ‘changing lanes’.
By the end of the first event you’ll feel like you and the game are old friends. When you land your first boost assisted quadruple backflip star-grab you’ll be head over heels. It’s so easy to fall for the game’s charms as it’s really forgiving. Most motocross games would crucify you for landing a jump doing a wheelie; Joe doesn’t mind if you land on your front wheel and stoppie all the way to the next ramp. Hell, I’m pretty sure I bounced off my back and was allowed to carry on a few times. There’s even a bit of platforming involving using accelerate and brake mid-air to adjust your position.
Combos are maintained with mid-air stunts, flips and wheelies to link them in-between. Balancing a wheelie is as simple as gently pushing backwards on the left stick, there’s no balance metre; just don’t yank back on the stick.
There is a limit though, try and do too many tricks in the air (with taps and holds of L1/R1) and you’ll bail if you land before he’s done rocking out. Holding Square will let you duck under barriers that’ll close-line you into next week if you’re not careful. Releasing Square will make Joe do a hop, useful for avoiding spikes and mud patches. Apart from a few incidents where he didn’t duck despite the button being held I never felt cheated when things went south. Rarely will a game demand you to try, try and try again for perfection and obscenely highscores without you losing confidence in yourself, but Hello Games have nailed the balance here. If any of your online friends have the game, their scores for an event are shown at the finish line. There’s no way you’ll be able to let it go.
Events in the career mode are bought with gold stars earned throughout. Simple objectives could be getting a gold score, collecting coins or winning a race. There are usually a wealth of extra tasks though too that reward you a star for successful completion. These could include beating a time limit, landing on all targets, collecting all ministars, collecting letters Tony Hawk-style to spell out DANGER, finding hidden objects or maintaining a combo throughout the whole level. Things get more interesting when you have to combine some of these tasks into one for a star, such as landing on all targets inside of a time limit.
Events can be restarted instantly with a push of ‘Select’ which as you try and perfect runs will become essential. You’ll never be short on stars to unlock events as an obsession is born trying to perfect every level. Occasionally you may meet your match, but you’ll always be able to finish a level even if you can’t master it.
The graphics are bright and cartoony, which fits in well with the carnival atmosphere of the game. The announcer announcing ‘D-D-D-Danger!’ always raises a smile as does the grin plastered all over Joe’s face while spinning through the air. We’re loving his epic Bruce Campbell chin too.
When you smash every objective, or make your peace with the meaner ones you may be tempted with the level editor. It’s simple to use as the 2D planes make it hard to mess up. You can upload your creations or just download someone else’s to keep the gamer going and going. Later career stages even incorporate it into events by asking you to place ramps to help you over a jump.
I couldn’t wait to try out the (offline only) multiplayer options, but I was a little disappointed. Despite the single player game occasionally involving racing with 4 players, there is only split-screen for two players. Although I imagine the horizontal split needed the extra length to spot the layout of the track ahead. A four-way split would have made this difficult.
More disappointingly, this is the only mode for multiplayer, there isn’t any score attack option to nail the big numbers either in a race, or taking turns. Even the races make light of scoring. Points are awarded during the race, but seemingly only for the purpose of earning boost. Races become comparatively dull events where you try and find the flattest track and avoid the big jumps to focus on speed.
There’s nothing to stop you going into the single player events and taking turns to outscore each other, but it feels like a missed opportunity and it costs the game a vital point off the score. Just shy of top marks then, but it might just be the most fun game on PSN.
- Immediately awesomely accessible fun
- Replay value added by obsession with mastering each event
- Editor mode will make it last even longer
- Racing-only multiplayer is disappointing
- I’ll never earn every star…
- But I’ll cripple my hands trying
The Short Version: You’ll struggle to find a game as fun as this on PSN. Trying to perfect every event is a task you’ll become obsessed with as is trouncing the scores of your online friends. The multiplayer is a bit weak, but when the rest of the game is so accommodating, with its forgiving nature masking the absorbing challenge, you can’t deny its brilliance.