Sometimes, it’s easiest to describe a game as being a mix of X and Y. In Joe Danger’s case, it’s a bit more complicated than just two letters. There are hints of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Excite Bike, Trials HD, and LittleBigPlanet, all packed into a tight package. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Developer Hello Games has surgically removed some of the best elements of the most addicting games in recent memory and implanted them into their whimsical racing/platforming/puzzling hybrid. Needless to say, after some hands-on time with the title we have fallen in love.
Players control the titular Joe Danger, a stuntman trying to find his way back into the spotlight after falling out after a trick-gone-wrong. The game, at its core, is a racing 2D platformer, an ambiguous genre that might sound familiar to anyone who downloaded Trials HD last year. When it comes to navigating tracks, the games definitely share some similarities, since there’s only so much that can be done with platforming on a motorcycle. These comparisons end fairly quickly, however, as controlling Joe is more akin to playing as Sonic the Hedgehog thanks to the game’s physics and speed-driven gameplay.
Whereas Trials was punishing and realistic, Joe Danger’s physics allow the racer to change direction in mid-air, boost while flying through the sky, and bunny-hop fairly long distances. If it wasn’t for the game’s already fantastic soundtrack, The Green Hill Zone theme would have been playing through our heads as we flew off ramps and ducked under obstacles.
Joe’s expanded skill set is necessary in order to complete objectives, which are necessary in order to earn Gold Stars, which are necessary in order to unlock additional levels, which are separated into different Tours. It’s here where the Tony Hawk comparisons come in, as many of the game’s levels come packed with a number of different tasks that need to be accomplished. Besides finishing the race before the timer runs out, Joe might be asked to finish a laundry list of objectives, from collecting the letters D-A-N-G-E-R to landing on a number of different targets. In the levels we played, nearly a dozen different objective types popped up, and that was just in the first four Tours. While it started off fairly straight forward, the complex, winding-nature of the game began showing its head in the later levels we played.
To add even more into the mix, players are able to change between three different planes at certain gates, each of which lead to different possible objectives. This means replaying levels is not only different each time, but actually mandatory in order to complete all of the tasks. It isn’t at all a bad thing, since the actual gameplay is so fun that replaying areas is more of a treat than a chore. While there are plenty of objective-driven missions, other, more straightforward Excitebike-like races are also available, breaking up what might have been seen by some as repetitive platforming. Luckily, the platforming isn’t repetitive, and there’s a good variety in terms of missions to keep even the most ADD players interested.
Giving Joe Danger legs beyond completing all of the objectives is the Sandbox, a full-blown level creator that appears to allow for as much customization as could ever be wanted. It’s simple to use, letting players drop any of the game’s objects wherever they want in a large, open, empty level. While some other games in the genre might have similar tools, Joe Danger’s seem to be not only the easiest to use, but should prove to extend the replayability by a good deal thanks to sharing tools, furthering the “Play, Create, and Share” mantra that has been slowly defining the generation for Sony.
Despite containing and combining elements from a number of different games, Joe Danger feels completely unique. This game will keep you coming back for more as you attempt to boost your score with insane combos. The combination of customization, speed, and combos fit in perfectly into this fun and innovative downloadable title. Joe Danger just oozes out fun and creativity and puts it into one unmissable experience, so do yourself a favor and pick up one of the best titles on the PlayStation Network.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Full blown level creator keeps things fresh and fun
Hands down one of the best PSN titles available