This delightful stunt racer more than makes up for lacklustre multiplayer with an excellent solo career.
- Great visuals
- All-pervasive sense of fun
- Variety of challenges
- Frustration never sets in even as the difficulty ramps up.
- Limited track-sharing options
- Stripped multiplayer.
Bouncing here, there, and everywhere, Joe Danger is at once a delightfully old-school stunt-racing experience and something entirely new. From the joyous presentation to the sounds of panic as Joe drops into a shark tank, it is almost impossible not to love Joe Danger and his enormous cheeky grin from start to finish. The game's charm belies deep, challenging, and rewarding gameplay that will keep you busy and grinning for many hours.
The game's story, as much as it has one, is a tale of redemption. Joe is an aging stuntman, who has returned against the odds after breaking all the bones in his body and is trying to claim the Master of Disaster title for his own. Now, he's back on his little bike, determined to make it to the top of the daredevil game, and it's your job to take him there. You do this by working your way through a number of different tours, wowing the crowds across a range of equally delightful locations and bizarre courses. As you work your way through the game, you face many racing and platforming challenges. These include simple races where you collect stars, dash for coins, and pull off death-defying and quite often utterly ludicrous stunts. When you add to that the local multiplayer options and the game's competent creation suite, you have a very high-value package. The one downside is that the game doesn't give you the ability to share your creations with the world--sharing is only between friends.
The core gameplay is fairly simple. The left stick controls your balance and aerial rotation, the triggers control your speed, and the shoulder buttons perform tricks. The square button lets you crouch and then jump, while the X button controls your boost. Boost is used to increase your speed in whichever direction you happen to be pointing, so while at the start it's just an effective way of gaining speed, at various points later on, you'll find yourself using it to fire yourself up over ledges, through spike-lined tunnels, or launch yourself toward bowling pins that need to be knocked over with your flying body. Controls are sharp, and you always feel that you are in control of Joe's movements. For example, double-jumps and aerial control using the brake or accelerate controls feel intuitive and natural. However hard the game gets, the precise controls and relatively forgiving nature of the game itself means that it never seems anything less than scrupulously fair.
These core controls play into a varied race-platforming game that at points rewards out-and-out speed, the utmost finesse, and even the occasional bit of mindless violence. The aim of each level of Joe Danger is to complete a range of challenges--some levels have up to eight different tasks for you to complete, not all of which can be done in the same run. Completing challenges earns you gold stars, which serve as currency to buy your way into later events. The game is structured so that you don't need to get all of the available stars to progress, so you're never forced into repeating any particular level or challenge over and over again.
This is rather fortunate because even early on, some of the challenges are fiendishly difficult. Normal tour events cost a maximum of three stars to enter (with many costing just one) and reward between two and eight stars if all challenges are completed. These challenges take their inspiration from a number of other games and genres. Some are essentially platforming challenges, such as those that require you to collect a string of coins that only exist for a set period of time after you pick up the first one, collecting the letters that spell out danger, or hitting various targets spread throughout the level. Others feel more akin to something you'd have found in an early Tony Hawk game, requiring you to complete the level or one of the objectives without breaking your trick combo as you string aerial daredevil stunts together with wheelies.