I’m either deaf of blind, because I never heard or read that the Joe Danger series was coming to Steam – it just suddenly arrived. Not that I have a problem with that, as the Joe Dangergames are brilliant little gems of enjoyment packed into a digital download, and if you never played them on console or just what to experience the games again with a little added bonus, then the bundle on Steam that goes for a tasty price of £16.99 is totally worthy of your investment.
Joe Danger is a stuntman who is on top of his game, until one unlucky crash later takes him out and resets his status to a newbie. He needs to get back into the limelight and become the star of the stunt world again, but to do this he needs to make his way through ridiculously-designed stunt tracks to prove his worth. This is where the player comes in, as Joe Danger; you must jump over buses, pull ludicrous aerobatic manoeuvres and then eventually make your way into the movie business (the theme behind Joe Danger 2) as a stuntman in various action films and become a household name.
I’m not going talk much about the original Joe Danger, because we already have a very good review on the site. All you need to know is that Joe Danger is like a comical brothering of Trials HD – it’s about collecting those coins, pulling off tricks and beating the times (or your rivals called Team Nasty). The track designs were smartly-thought-out, often requiring multiple playthroughs to find everything. Even the puzzle stages that required you to place down additional trick blocks to pick up all the stars and finish it with the best ranking were ingeniously-designed and a lot of fun to play. One of the only downsides to Joe Danger was the lack of different themes for its stages, as most of them are based around the dusty, desert town, but that’s something that was corrected in the sequel.
Hello Games have done a remarkable job with the PC port. Content-wise, it includes all the new levels that were added in the Xbox Live Arcade release, but an added bonus is that the level editor works with Steam Workshop, which makes it incredibly easy to find and play new levels until you’ve sapped the Steam Workshop dry of its entire user-created content. This is better than how it was done in the console release – in those versions you could only send your crafty constructions to people on your friends list, and there was no option to browse an online list of creations and download whichever stage tickled your fancy. Leaderboards are also featured for each of the game’s levels, with the standard friends and worldwide rankings making up the list.
Joe Danger 2 expands so much on the original game’s idea and is a perfect example of how a sequel should be done. It takes what was there before, refines it, and then takes it up a notch – a bit like moving the volume dial to 11. The subtitle of “The Movie” is a big hint to the theme ofJoe Danger 2 – it’s based on action films that require Joe to be the stuntman for the proposed scenes. The developers have a little fun with the film theme by naming their acts and levels with titles such as “Total Freefall,” “Timed Cop,” “Cold Finger” and “The Temple of Boom.” What this means for the game is that Joe Danger 2 is given a much broader scope when it comes to its level design. Gone is the desert and DIY themes, replaced now with snow, jungle, city, tombs and even aMinecraft level… Yep, that crazy-popular game gets a cameo appearance in Joe Danger 2, along with the gang from Team Fortress 2.
Variety isn’t restricted to the environment themes, because Joe is no longer limited to bikes but now has access to jetpacks, skis, mine carts and the one wheeled unicycle. These aren’t just cosmetic replacements – they all handle differently. The mine cart is restricted with its speed and direction due to being attached to the rails, and the jet pack allows you to fly around the stage as long as have you have enough boost to remain in the air. It adds so much to the game’s flow, because every level is something of a surprise. In the original Joe Danger, you knew you were going to be using a bike, and each level was seeing how crazy the developers could get with the design restriction of a bike being the main device to get around. Now the game has these additional vehicles, which frees the level designers from the limitations of a bike and allows them to go crazy with level constructions, and it’s awesome.
There’s no doubt that Joe Danger 2 has received most of the new features between the two games in the bundle. As I already mentioned, any of the nine Team Fortress 2 characters can be used as avatars and theMinecraft guy is also available, along with the level theme. Joe Danger 2 also includes the Steam Workshop as well, but thanks to the new gameplay mode and themes, the Steam Workshop shines much more in the sequel, with plenty of creative ideas to pluck from the list. Out of the two games, this is the one you’re most likely to stick with once you’ve done everything available in the games.
Bizarrely, there is no online multiplayer for any of the games, which is strange for Joe Danger 2 since it includes four player local multiplayer. I’m not sure why they didn’t add it to the PCversion. I’ll take a stab and say that it was a time constraint stopping them from incorporating online play. At least you can download ghosts from online and challenge some of the best players in the world. Another thing that must be noted is that the interface is made for players using an Xbox 360 controller, as even when one isn’t plugged in, the game will display those coloured buttons instead of the keyboard icons. I do recommend using a pad though, as it can be a little awkward to pull off tricks and balance the bike during the air, which is a key part in gaining boost metre.
Both games come with a PC exclusive “Ultra Hard Preview” game mode. In here, as you can probably expect from the name, are extremely challenging levels that will test anyone who has played Joe Danger already. I kind of wish there was more of it, but thanks to the Steam Workshop, no doubt more hard levels will come from fans. The graphics look great and are really sharp, especially on maximum settings. It helps that the game has a crisp, clean, cartoon art style that springs to life through the sharpness of the higher resolution.
The Joe Danger Bundle is aimed mainly at the PC crowd who never experienced the series of games on the consoles. There isn’t much here for fans who already played the console version, unless you’re a super hardcore fan who wants to taste the Ultra Hard mode and the new levels created through the Steam Workshop. Either way, what you need to know is that both of these Joe Danger games are smartly-designed, fantastic pieces of fun that anyone who is looking for some addictive, challenging puzzle-platforming gameplay should certainly check out.