Joe Danger: review

  • Format: PSN
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Hello Games
  • Developer: Hello Games
  • Players: 1 – 2
  • Site: www.hellogames.org

Joe Danger is the videogame equivalent of bubblewrap. At first glance it doesn’t look like something that will take up much of your time – but you can tell there’s something special about it. And once you pick up and play, you won’t want to stop.

Joe himself, despite looking like a young Bruce Forsyth (as seen playing a knife wielding killer in Bedknobs & Broomsticks – seriously, go look) is a stuntman looking to make a career comeback. This is an excuse for dozens of bitesized levels where you drive from left to right on a bike, collecting items while you jump and perform stunts on the way to the finish line. The phrase ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ may be seen and heard more than the phrase ‘I hate James Blunt’, but it’s perfectly appropriate here.

Pulling off tricks is nice and easy; lean Joe forwards or backwards for stunts such as flips and wheelies, and play around with L1 and R1 to find out what other aerial tricks are available. As well as looking flashy (when you don’t time the landing wrong and crash) and earning you points, stunts are used to refill your boost meter, which must be full before you can use it. Later in the game, you also realise just how much of an effect aerial stunts have on the trajectory and speed of your descent thanks to the semi – realistic physics. By this point however, the learning process for the deceptively simple controls will be well behind you.

Collectables have a star theme, which is the first hint of the Mario influence; most levels feature small blue stars to be collected, some have one or two larger yellow stars hidden in out of the way places, and beating one of the stage’s challenges – such as finding and collecting said stars, or all six letters of the word ‘DANGER’, or finishing within a time limit – rewards you with a gold star. These are a sort of currency used in the main menu as, while some stages are automatically unlocked, most require 1 – 6 stars to ‘buy’ access.

Try telling us this looks nothing like Mario. Okay, now with a straight face.

With hazards to be leapt over and springs providing greater height for ground jumps, Mario continues to make its presence felt in the times when Joe Danger plays like a platformer – which is often. You’re free to take your time rather than race through the stages if you wish and in some sections, it’s actually the most sensible approach. Not, however, during the handful of races scattered throughout the career.

There are also a few human bowling sections (think Pain) and some very clever, for wont of a better phrase, stunt puzzles. You’re also introduced to the level editor in a few stages when you’re required to delete, add, or move objects in order to progress.

The (excellent) editor for making your own stages isn’t quite as powerful as we’d like however, mainly due to the limit placed on how much you can drop into a level; and level sharing is limited to friends. Multiplayer is offline only, and the framerate in splitscreen dips slightly. Despite these moans, both playing and creating in this game are hideously addictive. Hideously, as some gold star challenges are evil incarnate.

"Who's the bar steward in the black..."

Until it makes the inevitable multiplatform jump however, Joe Danger is one of the best PS3 exclusives, right up there with the Uncharted games and LittleBigPlanet. Remember the game you tried to imagine when it was first announced that Mario and Sonic were teaming up? This is it.


5/5

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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