Joe Danger: Special Edition
After a successful run on the Playstation Network, the audacious daredevil Joe Danger at last gets his time to shine on Xbox Live Arcade. The game had undeniable charm and a healthy dose of polish when it first tricked its way to consoles, earning a fanbase eager to declare it one of the finest offerings to date via download. Joe Danger: Special Edition brings a few new bells and whistles to the table, but is it second time lucky for Joe or is his comeback tour set to crash and burn?
For those who missed out on the initial release, Joe Danger is all about driving a bike through a large number of courses filled with traps, ramps and springs that will either help or hinder your progress. You could argue that it bears a striking resemblance (gameplay wise at least) to Trials HD, except the difficulty isn’t nearly as crushing. The game begins with an easy opening few stages, but the challenge ramps up considerably as things progress, eventually pitting you against other racers and forcing a quick restart should you have missed the object you were gunning for. The beauty of this is that restarting is immediate with a tap of the Back button, though you will have to sit through a brief ragdoll animation when Danger’s skills fail him.
It’s extremely easy to pick up and play, so accessibility is a strong selling point here. Controls are simple enough, and like in Rayman Origins you find yourself with a great deal of control, meaning that failure often comes from a lack of judgement on the player’s part rather than through unfairness coming from the game itself. Learning each course and how to deal with its dangers is paramount, as is deciding on the best time to perform tricks to increase your combo and fill the boost meter. It can be genuinely tough to achieve the high score required or to reach the last collectible letter in the word D-A-N-G-E-R, but it’s in this respect that the game provides replayability and keeps you pushing for success.
In any given stage you could be tasked with collecting every blue star, collecting the aforementioned letters, landing on every target, completing a course under a certain time or a mixture of two at once. You won’t be able to do everything in your first try, and each level is used effectively by the developer. The game has enough going for it that you won’t mind replaying in the name of collecting stars, especially when it rewards you by unlocking new levels based on how many of these are earned. It’s entirely possible that you’ll reach a point where returning to earlier levels becomes a necessity, so it’s unlikely that you’ll tear through to the end having done just a small fraction of the work.
The presentation is one of the things that you’ll instantly notice about Joe Danger. The colours are vibrant, the animations are smooth and the music (which in all honesty can begin to grate after a while) befits the wacky atmosphere of the game. It does suffer from a lack of variety when it comes to course environments however, so you can expect to see much of the same design over and over again – in this sense, repetition may well become an issue. The collisions depicted can be genuinely entertaining, and the physics engine handles these humorous moments well.
One of the biggest additions to the Special Edition is the Lab, which provides fresh challenges for players to sink their teeth into. It evokes a blue-print crash dummy feel and looks different to the main campaign, serving as something of an add-on that surprisingly wasn’t released as downloadable content. The level editor makes a welcome return and will offer hours of play for those who wish to use it, but this game is rich with content regardless. Another addition is the Pro Medal system, which only awards you every task has been performed in a single run (no small feat as you can imagine), plus loading times have been significantly improved.
Local multiplayer modes are present, but online functionality is almost non-existent, with only leaderboards and sandbox raceway sharing made available to friends. It’s unlikely that you’ll be spending out on this game for anything but the addictive nature of the single-player anyway, plus it’s tough to criticise the lack of an online component when so much content has been packed in to begin with, and all at the humble price of 1200 points through Live Arcade.
Joe Danger: Special Edition is the definitive version of the game and one that the plucky stuntman can be proud of. It is disappointing that the new content isn’t available to PSN users who supported the developer in the first place, but it does give Live Arcade users the chance to experience this enjoyable title for the first time and in full glory – essentially increasing Joe’s fanbase in the process. Joe Danger is colourful, daring, challenging and charming… making it a solid choice for players with a bit of endurance in the face of a good challenge. It might not be for everyone, however, and if you rely on net functionality rather than addictive point-scoring for longevity, then this may not be the one for you.
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