Joe Danger Review – Joe Man’s Sky (Vita)
Unless you’ve been blatantly ignoring gaming news for the last nine months, you’ve probably heard of No Man’s Sky, Hello Games’ ambitious interplanetary exploration project that has set the gaming community ablaze. A project of this vast undertaking didn’t just spring up out of nowhere however, and the Vita is finally seeing the release of Hello Games’ humble beginnings, the handheld version of Joe Danger, a title that helped fund their upcoming project.
Joe is a stuntman and, along with his trusty motorbike, he is out to pull off some of the most zany stunts across a variety of crazy side-scrolling levels. The first thing that comes to mind when playing Joe Danger for me is classic Tony Hawk. Each level has a series of stars that you must collect by completing various goals, including collecting the letters D-A-N-G-E-R, finishing the level in a certain time, and finding hidden stars within the level. This is all in addition to pulling off stunts and combos to get some massive points. When you cross that finish line and find that your score and combo multiplier have landed you north of 25 million points, it definitely brings back memories of pulling off that perfect combo run in older Tony Hawk games. It’s not just Mr. Hawk though. Joe borrows aspects from many other games to finely craft an excellent stunt bike title.
Joe Danger is a game that falls in the “easy to learn, hard to master” category. Getting through the levels is simple enough and the controls are relatively easy to pick up after the first few runs, but if you want to maintain big combos, collect all of the stars, or — for the ultimate challenge — try for the pro medals, you’ll be required to make use of precision timing and tough stunts to pull everything off. It is because of this that Joe Danger appeals to such a wide audience. The more casual players will have a blast just throttling down the course, bouncing off of springs, flipping through the air, and seeing Joe wreck in hilarious ways. More dedicated players like myself will be obsessed with restarting each level, honing their skills until they are able to get a perfect run. Either way can be a ton of fun.
We already know Joe, however, and we know that this game is great. We’ve said it before in our original review of Joe Danger. This review doesn’t need to tell you that it is a game that is worth playing. It is. What this review needs to tell you is whether or not the journey to the Vita has been a worthwhile jump for Joe or not.
The Vita is the perfect home for the bite-sized gameplay that Joe Danger offers. Each level is very conducive to quickly playing a couple of rounds, so it’s perfect for Sony’s on-the-go beast of a handheld. Don’t think this means that one won’t want to sit for long gaming sessions with Joe though. The quickness of each level perpetuates the ‘just one more run’ mentality that could have you playing far past when you intended. The only problem I found with these long play sessions was that my hands would cramp up while trying to articulate all of the buttons to pull off the precise moves needed to complete each level. The Vita doesn’t hold up well to long sessions of high intensity games like Joe Danger that have you holding down trigger buttons and sliding your thumbs rapidly across the face of the device, all while still trying to hold it in such a way that you can see the screen. This didn’t manifest until well into my play sessions, but always forced me to eventually put down the Vita and relax my hands.
The Vita version also comes with more levels and characters than the original, including the Laboratory, which PlayStation gamers missed out on in Joe’s original outing on the PS3. Joe Danger 2 introduced ghost replays that allow you to see previous runs of that level, and they have been incorporated into the gameplay for Joe Danger on Vita. These can be really helpful for those dedicated players that want to pick up on their mistakes and learn how to perfect their line, so it was a great feature to bring back to this original title. The graphics look great on the Vita and the game runs as smoothly as we’ve come to expect from Joe and his flipping motorcycle.
There is also a level editor that works great on the Vita. It allows you to create your own courses and challenges, all with the use of the touchscreen. If you get tired of the 80+ courses that are already in the game, challenge yourself or your friends with things created in the level editor to extend your time with the game.
This is Joe Danger Plus. Take everything great from the PS3 release, add characters, levels, and features that were introduced in Joe Danger 2, and you have a game that holds up great even four years after its original release. Bringing Joe to the Vita was the right move, and aching hands are only an issue because it’s a game that I can’t seem to put down.
Joe Danger review copy provided by developer. Joe Danger for the Vita is free on PlayStation Plus for the month of Sept. 2014. For more information on scoring, read our Review Policy here.