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Joe Danger 1 & 2

18:5401/07/2013Posted by Charles Etheridge-NunnNo Comments

The phrase, “Joe Danger finally comes to PC” is a bit of an odd one, seeing as it’s only three years old, but after playing a tonne of Joe Danger on the iPhone and iPad for a D+Pad review, I was interested in seeing what an upgrade to the PC would bring. As it turns out, a lot more of everything.

Much like the previous incarnations, Joe Danger features a charmingly ugly stuntman biking from left to right, navigating stunts and occasionally racing the nefarious Team Nasty. It’s like if Sonic and Bit.Trip.Runner merged and started to do stunts on bikes. You have the running and almost rhythmic precision needed from Bit.Trip.Runner, but there’s more freedom to play with stunts and to explore the levels. For a racing game that’s an odd concept, but you can zip backwards as well as forwards. Winning a race or completing the course are as important as finding stars or making a perfect landing. There’s a lot to do and a lot of replay value.

There are unlockable characters, multiplayer and ultra hard modes, along with a heap of extras. Buying Joe Danger actually nets you both console releases of Joe Danger 1 & 2 and while it’s a shame they couldn’t be merged into one release, there are enough differences to make them worthwhile.

Joe Danger 1 is the simpler game, keeping closer to the mechanic of racing from left to right on a bike. The maps have several objectives like collecting “D-A-N-G-E-R” letters or all the little blue stars, or maybe finding the big star which you need to jump backwards onto a pillar for. It’s satisfying at first and then becomes a fiddly nightmare. Compared to the single finger sliding around to duck, jump and stunt around, you have different keys for the moves (or buttons if you’re a horrible controller-loving shame to the PC master race like me). The game is gentle at first and teaches you a bit at a time, yet for a game filled with such simple joy, you’ll still become an uncoordinated idiot trying to get that last blue star.

Joe Danger 2 is definitely my favourite of the pair. It may lack the purity of JD1, but that’s only because it’s way more berserk. While JD1 had the same desert film set style, number two’s “worlds” are all different films. The backdrops and the challenges all change up. In the spy film, you’re slowly trying to avoid sensors or skiing away from an avalanche. In the bank robbery you’re trying to beat up Team Nasty and collect any abandoned money. Each level could bring you a vignette in a jet pack, a mine cart… anything really. The core mechanic and the goals are still there, but the methods are shaken up enough to stay interesting.

All of that is simply the movie mode of JD2. There’s also a plethora of deleted scenes which might have you balancing on a unicycle through a level or bowling in a Minecraft world. Oh yes, there are crossovers. The cast of Team Fortress 2 and Steve from Minecraft make appearances in the game, too. The deleted scenes are interesting challenges just far enough away from the movie mode while still utilising the same mechanics.

There’s a sandbox mode where you can make your own levels and a just few days into the release there are already a tonne. In fact, some of the normal levels of JD2 make use of the level editor so you can freeze time and rearrange things while you ride through them.

And then there’s the horror of the Ultra Hard levels. Both games contain them and they’re satisfyingly different. Okay, they’re utter sods and there’s little satisfying about them, but you’ll keep trying all the same. That’s the great thing about Joe Danger 1 & 2; even when it’s kicking you, it’s so easy to restart the level that you’re back in and trying to beat it again and again. You’ll get frustrated, but you’ll pick your controller up off the floor and try again before your little man’s body has finished skidding across the tarmac.

Both Joe Danger games look lovely despite their simplicity. The little animated characters look like they belong in worlds longer established than these games, as I believe I said in a previous review. Everything’s charming even when it’s knocking you face-first into the floor.

As a relatively recent PC player, it feels odd jumping into a game for a few swift plays, but Joe Danger 1 & 2 feel like games you could go into to kill a couple of minutes trying to earn a better score or complete more goals on a level. Equally, the need to push on and defeat levels, to return and perfect your scores may cause time to slip away from you without realising it. In the end, Joe Danger 1 & 2 only do one thing, but at least they do this really well. The gameplay is fast and addictive, with more depth than you would expect from such a simple-looking game.

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