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Digital Daredevil- Joe Danger Review

There’s an inherent disposability that accompanies many downloadable console games. Over the years, I’ve purchased a large number of diversions, each title offering an immediate but fleeting burst of gratification. Once each game is completed, a reprise is rare; typically a newer, more tempting title is insistent for attention. Of course, there are exceptions to this callous cycle- the brilliance of Shadow Complex, Super Stardust HD, and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 have each beckoned for supplemental playtime.

In the three weeks since Joe Danger‘s release, I have found myself continually revisiting its abundant charms. With a plethora of varied stages, a course editor and local multiplayer components, the title offers a significant amount of content which should sustain a player’s prolonged attention. More importantly, the game’s core mechanics are so skillfully designed that replaying a level just to increase your score or shave seconds off of your race time is nearly as compelling as moving on to an unlocked track.

At first glance, Joe Danger recalls the classic Nintendo title, Excitebike. Players control a cycle-riding protagonist tasked with traversing a multilane track filled with jumps, speed boosts, and obstacles. Further inspection exhibits a richer set of objectives than merely crossing the finish line- stages require the daredevil to land on bull’s-eye markers, collect coins, letters and stars, and even continuously stunt through a level.  With a wide variety of objectives, the title implores players to confront tracks with a variety of tactics, bolstering the game’s replayability.

A couple of clever mechanics elevate the proceedings.  Players may ‘wheelie’ or ‘endo’ by moving the left stick. While both maneuvers boost the players score combo, riding on the back wheel has an additional benefit- the trick also refills the player’s turbo gauge. Gamers may initiate additional tricks, such as flips or a Superman, with the stick or triggers. Since the stunts are so effortlessly performed, zealous players might find themselves tempted to trick every time they are airborne. While the title’s landings err on the lenient, there’s bound to be a sporadic wipeout caused  by players pushing too hard- the indicator of a capable stunt system.

Graphically , Danger is exceedingly polished, with well-drawn environments  and a well-animated  protagonist. Each on-track element is unobtrusively color-coded, giving players additional visual assistance as they plot their way through the game’s busy stages. When combined with the game’s muted, but well-detailed background and solid framerate, the title is treat for the eyes, only sullied  by the sporadic screen-tear.

Sadly, a handful of minor quibbles spoil Joe Danger‘s otherwise illustrious debut.  While the game’s splitscreen multiplayer competitions are enjoyable, they are limited to local matches; those seeking to outperform their friends will have to rely on the  title’s leaderboards. Danger‘s inclusion of a course editor is certainly commendable, allowing players to build and test tracks without any load-time interruptions.  Unfortunately, creating seamless tracks is trickier than it should be; like Little Big Planet, pieces are affected by gravity, and require support structures. Inexplicably , the sharing of creations is limited by your friends list, meaning that only players with prolific acquaintances will see the best user-generated content.

Arguably, the most amazing aspect of Joe Danger is the game’s development team- composed of just four individuals. In execution, the title is sweet confirmation that a diminutive developer with solid ideas can create a title that rivals, if not beats the best efforts from gargantuan studios. Players fatigued by the buy-play-forget sequence of downloadable games are highly encourage to take Joe Danger on an extended ride; it’s a wonderful feather in the cap of Playstation 3 exclusives.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

31 comments

  1. I saw this review of IGN. Glad to know you guys agree it’s awesome.

  2. I hope this is popular enough to make it’s way to the 360.

  3. I don’t see why they made the MP local. This could have been so awesome online.

    BTW- Does Excitebike for the Wii have online?

  4. Yellow and Black Attack

    Ok, sounds good. Whats the price?

  5. T-G +1 for mentioned the faults other sites didn’t. Everyone seemed to say, “Its perfect”

  6. Just two player split screen?

  7. Great review. One of the better ones I’ve read.

  8. I like the art style- very cool.

  9. I read that it’s more like Trials HD. But does it get that hard? That game drove me nuts!

  10. I wish there was a demo. Damn you Sony!

  11. $15 and well worth it, IMHO.

  12. I’m loving this game so far. One of the best PSN releases.

  13. Ny scoring tips? My friends have some really crazy scores.

  14. Interesting game. It does look like Excitebike.

  15. Mack the Hunter

    You think they’ll add online MP later? For a charge of course!

  16. Great review. I love this game!

  17. $15 is about $5 too much.

  18. I like the games art style. So cute!

  19. The game need some extra. Joe costumes, parts for the level builder, even additional levels.

  20. As with tradition, I’ll post IGN’s typical nonsense. Here’s the first sentence-

    “Imagine if Excitebike and Trials HD got together and totally did it.”

  21. Can you fall on your head in the loop? If so, I’m so there!

  22. Yeah, I’d like to know too. I stunt like crazy, but some people have insane scores.

  23. Thats wierd. I would sell at least 3X as much on the 360. I guess they don’t want to succeed.

  24. Great review.

  25. I think they were trying to be funny. They just happened to fail miserably. Can you image a film or book critic opening a ‘serious’ review with that line?

  26. Thanks for mentioned the screen tear issue. It’s small but annoying.

  27. Man, I love this game. I wish they had more parts on the editor. Maybe they’ll update it.

  28. Looks really fun.

  29. I’ve been playing this all morning. Great game!

  30. Surprising that only 4 people worked on a game I hear nothing but good things about.