Stunt riding dare devil meets Mario via Tony Hawks Pro Skater
Playing Joe Danger on PC is akin to watching a family disaster in progress. Like Home Alone, you witness a piece of software board a plane bound for Windows land, whilst the rest of the stunt riding crew file patiently onto cabins chartered for console and iOS resorts. At some point in time somebody is going to redden their cheeks with both hands and exclaim "JOE!".
Joe Danger, both sequel and original, is the tale of the namesake, Evel Kneivel-a-like stunt man as he attempts to reclaim former glories after injury, and further conquer the film industry one back flip at a time. The events that follow chug along at the pace of a dirt bike pulling wheelies at inappropriate heights, and collecting a dizzying amount of stars, letters, and coins.
Spandex and Red Smoke = Cool
Like the best of the short-form, arcade explosion games of the past few years, Joe Danger manages to capture that perfect casual experience, beguilingly offering you that "just one more level" opiate that threatens to transform you into a stunt addled dependant.
But for all of Joe Danger's apparent charms and excitable enjoyment, developer Hello Games have missed an opportunity in giving PC loyalists everywhere a definitive version of the game, rather than a slightly mumbled port. From the start, controls and prompts are designed with Xbox 360 pads in mind, with the game almost explicitly insulting you for not owning a "Games for Windows" pad and getting with the joystick resolution.
And yet, while the keyboard is left to feel like a clumsy cousin in the face of a more dexterous input system, it is hard to blot the pages of what is an excellent transcription of the JD experience. Colours explode like fireworks onto the monitor, sounds pound out of the speakers like an over excited 1970s orchestra, and content spills from every direction in the game's code.
Like Tony Hawks Pro Skater before it, JD features level-upon-level progression, with each stage themed and packed with things to do; from simply finishing to collecting the words "D.A.N.G.E.R". At certain points the director will also shout out tricks and commands which give you a split second to achieve, allotting a bonus at the end of each which is finally tallied at the end.
In the grand old tradition of a coin-op platformer, JD isn't about simply progressing to the next stage but instead stopping to admire the view. For those that idolise 100% completion rates, Hello Games have delivered with enough content to keep you stunt cycling for months.
But for those who require a quicker pace, new experiences can be unlocked by fulfilling a certain amount of criteria, such as collecting a prerequisite amount of stars. This allows JD to move along at a satisfying pace, with the difficult curve never too steep, and the missions always varied.
Perhaps JD's most stand-out achievement, but ultimate failure, is the difficult of the game. While stunt biking never falls into the realm of annoyance and repetition like many similar games do, it also feels too easy and forgiving. Falling off of your bike will only set you back a short distance away with a checkpoint, and failing to pull off a stunt rarely ends up in a Tony Hawk's themed bail out. So while it is nice to not be tearing at your hair in frustration, after a while the relaxation of the title can start to wear.
Trick multipliers that would make the Birdman proud
But ultimately, Hello Games have a managed to create a fantastic short-form game, with oodles of content, and tons of excitement to boot. This isn't just your run of the mill iOS thumb swiper, but instead an experience than runs deeper and, literally, jumps through hoops to earn its place in the gaming hall of recognition.
JOE DANGER 2: THE MOVIE VERDICT
Although notably lacking in enthusiasm for its PC platform, Joe Danger makes an excellent debut on Windows, with enough content to keep you entertained for months.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Pulling off a number of tricks whilst jumping dozens of coaches and hearing the sing-along praise of “DAAANNGGEERR!”