Joe Danger: Special Edition (Review)

PS3 gamers already know of Joe Danger’s brilliance and now XBLA customers finally get to see what all the fuss was about thanks to this Special Edition. For those of you not in the know, Joe Danger rocked onto PSN last year to unanimous applause, combining motorcycle stunt riding, platforming, speed runs and item collecting into one incredibly slick experience.

The game plays across 2D planes, left to right. On your way to the finish line, there are multiple objectives for each of the 100+ levels. Collect all the silver stars, beat a par time, grab coins, hidden icons, land on all targets and maintain a combo for the whole level are some of the tasks at hand. You’ll only need a couple ticked off to progress, but mastering a stage is where the fun really starts.

The controls are simple with acceleration and braking/reversing assigned to the triggers, tricks with taps and holds of the bumpers and boosting and jumping on the face buttons. Wheelies and endos are effortlessly performed by rocking the analogue stick in the appropriate direction to adjust Joe’s weight. The same principles allow a game-winning amount of mid-air movement too, essential for guiding him through narrow gaps.

Performing and landing mid-air tricks to stack up your combo count is simple and the game is very forgiving regarding how much you can get away with as far as landing safely goes. Landing in traps will snap you out of your seat, but the game is happy to look the other way every now and then when you seemingly land upside down. As long as you can get a wheelie going again, you’ll be able to carry on the combo.

360 Exclusive Material

Being a Special Edition, there’s a wealth of extra content not seen in the PS3 version. The new Lab stages are the biggest addition and PS3 players should feel jealous, as these stages are brilliant. Fingers crossed they’ll get it as DLC soon.

The Lab is not a place newbies should attempt before putting a few hours into the main missions first. Old hands will relish the challenge of avoiding spikes, mousetraps, skull-splintering springs and more, as all of Joe’s skills are tested. Ducking, backwards wheelies, double jumps and horizontal mid-air boosting through spike tunnels are all included to nightmarish proportions.

That’s the beauty of the game though; it’s so addictive. You’ll not want to stop playing until you get better. Even the later lab stages, which are merciless, all seem to be strangely achievable, most other games I’d start to get annoyed with at having to retry a stage dozens of times, but getting that perfect run becomes an obsession here. No matter how many times you smash Joe across spikes, slam him into walls or drop him in a shark tank, there’s always that feeling of getting closer.

The restarts are still instantaneous, but it’s the loading times between events that are most improved over the PS3 version. This does mean that your hands never get a break though.

New Pro Medals have been worked into the main campaign and are usually awarded for nailing all objectives in a single run. These will also go towards unlocking items in future Hello Games titles, with Joe Danger: The Movie presumably being in mind.

Rag-doll bowling minigames are new to the series, and while a fun distraction, there aren’t many stages on offer. The track editor is a nice change of pace though as you can use the toolset to create your own challenges before sharing them with friends. This will help extend the life of the game once you’ve finished the other stages. The editor also makes its way into the main game, as can pause the action and move ramps and springs around to get to the end of some stages.

As a warm up to Joe Danger: The Movie, this is a perfect opportunity for 360 owners to play one of this generation’s finest games. After playing original Joe Danger, I went to try out the XBLA’s Trials HD and just laughed at how miserable it was in comparison to Joe’s stunt fest. These are the only two wheels you should be rolling on with your 360.

Pros

  • Finally on 360
  • Extra content makes it good value
  • Fun to play. Tough to master. Perfect.

Cons

  • Compulsive quest for perfection crippled my hands
  • Not much to maintain multiplayer interest
  • Makes the wait for Joe Danger: The Movie unbearable

10/10

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