Developer Hello Games burst onto the scene in 2010 with Joe Danger--and with Joe Danger 2: The Movie, they prove that their initial success was not a fluke. This sequel is part racing game, part platformer, but adds a maximalist aesthetic that wasn't present in the first game, with blasts of colors, sound and voice cues everywhere, and constant variety in the gameplay. It's all tied together with a moviemaking motif, putting you in the shoes of the titular character, who has gotten a job as a stuntman for a Hollywood director.
Gameplay generally consists of you on some kind of conveyance (skis, mine cart, jetpack, and so on), barreling down a track or hill, jumping off ramps, avoiding obstacles, and doing as many tricks as possible, all while collecting a slew of objects, from stars to the letters of the word "danger." If that sounds like a lot to keep track of, keep in mind that not everything is mandatory, and levels are pretty short. If you wipe out, the game instantly transports you back to the nearest checkpoint to give it another go, and the overall sense is one of a kid in a candy store, not an overworked secretary. Sound cues help, as well: the "director" of the scene shouts what you're supposed to do a split second before you have to do it, giving you a little warning. But make no mistake, this is a game of trial and error, where perfectionists will play the same levels time and time again until they get everything collected and explore every path.
And that's a good thing, because Joe Danger 2's little snippets of action lend themselves to replay--everything about the game is designed for quick jaunts of play, much like in its predecessor.Joe Danger 2's multiplayer improves upon the original's, sitting somewhere between a racing game and Super Smash Bros. You compete with up to three buddies locally, and each is trying to get the highest score. You can improve your score by finishing the race quickly, by collecting lots of stuff, by doing tricks, or by messing with other players.
There's a lot of room for customization of multiplayer sessions, which makes the relatively short races a lot deeper than they might seem at first blush. However you approach them, though, the multiplayer races maintain Joe Danger 2's over-the-top fetish with all the insane goings-on of a single-player level multiplied by the number of participants, and crammed into a tiny TV screen. Even though competitive play is relegated to local split-screen (there's no online mode), it's a blast to play.
What isn't quite as endearing is Joe Danger 2's long load times; 20- to 30-second waits break up the game's otherwise breezy momentum. But while you may need to wait around a few seconds to get to it, there's a lot of content here: half a dozen levels with multiple tracks each, a "deleted scenes" mode to teach you tricks and secrets, multiplayer, and plenty of corny jokes and puns. Most of the vehicle types, with the exception of the poorly conceived unicycle, are similar enough for you to get your bearings quickly, but have enough differences to affect the gameplay in subtle ways, too.
No matter which vehicle you're using, you'll always appreciate Joe Danger's sharp controls, which respond cleanly and are very easy to get the hang of (tricking is as simple as hitting a shoulder button or pushing a thumbstick). And if all that weren't enough reason to give Joe Danger 2 a try, it also brings back its predecessor's excellent level-editor tool, only a higher-octane version. Powerful, yet intuitive, the editor lets you whip up stages of you own. You can also use it as a browser to get a peek at upcoming content in the months ahead.
Whether you played the original game or let it race past you unnoticed, Joe Danger 2: The Movie revs its motor too loudly to ignore. Unlike with most movies, this is one sequel that actually improves on the original, while still keeping intact the core elements that made that game such fun.