Joe Danger â€“ the name says it all really. Heâ€™s a little man with a stunt bike, red jumpsuit and a cape. Heâ€™s coming back from life-threatening, career-ending injuries, and is ready to prove to the world that heâ€™s still the best at back flipping, wheelieing and jumping sharks in UK based Hello Gamesâ€™ polished side scrolling puzzler for the PSN. Packed with humorous flourishes, a wonderful retro feel and plenty of clever ideas, Joe Danger is a title that draws you in, holds your attention and sends you off with a warm fuzzy feeling, and only a few minor breaks and abrasions.
The game begins with a brief run down of Joeâ€™s history. His dazzling rise to fame, his terrible accident and subsequent promise to make it back to the top. Within moments you take control of the determined daredevil, with the slightly oversized head, in a sequence of stunt rides and races. The first rides set up the mechanics of controlling Joe and his bike and hint at just what it will take to make it to the stunt gameâ€™s big time.
Essentially Joe is on a rail. L2 and R2 moves you forward and backwards with x giving you a short lived boost that is only rechargeable pulling off tricks and stunts. Holding the square button down will make Joe duck while releasing it will get him doing a bunny hop which can help with catching bigger air if your boost has run out. In the air combinations of the R1 and L1 triggers will have Joe doing Cowboys and Supermen all over his handlebars, while the analog sticks will get him doing wheelies and stoppies on the ground and some serious backwards and forwards rotations while in the air.
So: you race against the clock to hit jumps, collect coins, perform airborne tricks, land on targets, duck and bounce around mouse traps, spikes and shark infested swimming pools. All of these earn stars and allow you to move on to longer, more complex levels.
Each level has a list of accomplishments. Sometimes there might only be a couple, like beating a time limit or collecting all the coins, while other levels may have a dozen or more including finding hidden coins, comboing the entire run or landing on every target. For every accomplishment you get a gold star. With gold stars you unlock more stunt runs and levels. Although you can get quite a way into the game by doing what you want to on each run (because some levels open automatically or at the cost of one star) unlocking later levels takes multiple stars. This means a lot of replaying, and quite a bit of finesse and practice to get those more difficult accomplishments.
As a puzzler Joe Danger is simple to get into but offers up some frustrating moments. However, they are all good frustrating moments. Moments that fans of puzzlers would expect and welcome. Some of the targets you have to land on are in pretty precarious spots where a small miscalculation will see Joe bailing and returning to the beginning of a level. Although the longer levels do have in-run restart points. Every time you bail is counted so even though you have unlimited lives it can get a bit embarrassing if you hit forty or fifty retries to get one last accomplishment.
Along with the stunt runs there are a number of races. These races highlight an enjoyable tactical element to the game. To win the races you will need to use your boost in the right spots. Also, you have to keep in mind where you can perform your highflying tricks that recharge the boost. At certain points in the race you can also switch between the courseâ€™s three lanes, something you can also do in the stunt runs, avoiding the mud pools and loop-the-loops that slow you down. The races are a relaxed and welcome diversion and are also available in split screen multiplayer for couch based competitions.
While not an insanely hard puzzler, at a touch under $25, the gameâ€™s long enough to be worthwhile. However, the game "is what it is". Itâ€™s a small independent title taking on the big priced, big budget games, and for the most part it feels small and a bit dinky. But, it includes a level editor that allows you to drop ramps and springs into runs, as well as allowing you to build and modify your own runs to share online. So, for the price there is plenty of content to make it bandwidth worthy.
All in all Joe Danger is great fun wrapped around a retro sound track and some clean cartoon graphics. Heâ€™s a likeable little motorhead with a goofy grin and, as with all daredevils, a rather unhealthy obsession with fame and a charming little death wish. So rev up your PS3, bust out your fat Elvis style jumpsuit and cape, and get ready for Danger.