Take your favourite action movies, strip out the boring talky parts where nothing explodes, and re-cast them with veteran stuntman Joe Danger in the lead role. There you have Joe Danger: The Movie, sequel to stunt-mad motorbike racer Joe Danger.
Furious bike-flipping fun though it was, there was a sameyness to the cartoony desert tracks of the original game. "It's something we weren't happy with," says Sean Murray, head of Hello Games, on that lack of variety. The first level, he says, looked and felt much like the last level, and so the studio's tiny team approached the sequel with a mind to mix things up.
Accordingly, daredevil rider Joe has branched out from mere motorbikes, adding skis, skidoos (above), jetpacks (below), minecarts, bicycles, and unicycles to his stunt repertoire. There are now 20 vehicles in all, doled out across 100-ish levels.
The levels themselves have diversified as well, split into movie-themed acts with different environments and objectives. There's a James Bond-inspired arctic act, packed with icy courses such as Dr Snow, in which Joe is on skis and chased by an avalanche, and Cold Finger, in which he infiltrates a military base on a jetpack.
The Indiana Jones-inspired act, on the other hand, has a rollercoaster-like level that plonks Joe into a minecart, while another act's city-set racing (Beverly Thrills Cop), saddles him with first a paperboy's bicycle and then a police motorcycle, switching out vehicles as Joe zooms through a quick-change booth on the track.
Joe Danger: The Movie is as trick-happy as its predecessor, with oodles of special stunts per vehicle that, once again, need to be combined and held for gigantic scores.
Various vehicles offer new quirks as well--with skis, you can pull off moves while on the ground, SSX-style. Other vehicles isolate particular skills--the unicycle is all about Joe's lean, needing constant adjustment to stay balanced and upright.
There is new four-player, same-screen local racing, in which those riders who fall behind get respawned with a point penalty, a bit like the equivalent mode in fellow Xbox Live Arcade title Trials: Evolution. There's no simultaneous online multiplayer but, over in the single-player game, the ghosts of your friends' best performances are drafted in to ride alongside you as floating balls of light.
If your friends are online and on the same track as you, though, these ghosts reflect their live performance--a kind of spontaneous, lobby-free pseudo-multiplayer. Other new online features include a special red ghost, representing the performance of the world's best player on that level.
Over in Movie Maker, Joe Danger: The Movie offers up its own creator tools to let players build their own levels and download those made by others. There's a curated selection of Develop Picks, too, for riders without the inclination to sift through the user-made levels themselves.
The treat in Movie Maker is that you ride and create at the same time--pausing your live race mid-jump to pop an obstacle here, a ramp here, and a dinosaur over there makes track building easy and entertaining.
There's still no release date on Joe Danger: The Movie more specific than this autumn, when it will be out for Xbox Live Arcade. Release on other platforms--that is, the PlayStation Network on which the original game debuted--seems inevitable but not immediate. XBLA first, says studio head Murray, "then we'll see".