While Sony and Microsoft go head-over-heels in their efforts to create the most complete racing simulations possible, I have always liked my racers to be unrealistic. The gear-heads can have the sims, I’ll gladly take the insta-explode cars of Pole Position, the wackiness of Mario Kart, or the balls-to-the-wall intensity of Burnout.
Joe Danger is very similar to Excitebike and Joe himself looks like stuntman extraordinaire Super Dave. I pressed the Start button hoping that his game would provide at least as much entertainment as one of its two inspirations. Make that three: Joe Danger also has a dash of Tony Hawk.
Upon starting the game, the retro vibe continues with a flashing cassette tape in the lower left corner and a voice-over saying “J-J-J-Joe D-D-D-Danger!” I expected it to be followed with “SUNDAY-SUNDAY-SUNDAY!” but sadly, it didn’t happen. As is quickly explained by the narrator, Joe was a big time stuntman before an unfortunate accident sidelined him. In Story Mode you help Joe stage his big comeback.
Joe Danger is a 2.5D game: that is, the graphics are in 3-D, but the game play is in 2-D. The game looks like Excitebike but with the track tilted ‘away’ from the player just a bit. This allows the player to see ahead a little bit farther ahead than if the track were completely horizontal and helps showcase the bright, colorful graphics that bring Joe’s world to life.
Joe races through obstacle-laden tracks with plenty of opportunities to catch big air and perform stunts. Each track has a set of objectives: collecting stars, landing on targets, finishing within a certain time, and continuously performing stunts during the race, to name a few. Completing objectives earns stars and do not have to be completed all at once. Stars are used to purchase new Story Mode levels, so you will need a certain level of skill in order to progress.
The game boils down to memorizing the levels, then figuring out a plan of attack for completing its objectives. Like Excitebike, Joe Danger also has Turbo available, but it can only be used when the Turbo meter is full. Turbo is replenished by sustaining wheelies and doing stunts. Unlike Excitebike, Joe Danger is confined to a single lane on the track unless he comes across a special lane change section. This allows the player to concentrate more on doing stunts without having to worry about accidently changing lanes.
Game controls are very responsive and work well: The left analog stick is used to pop wheelies and to flip Joe around while he is in midair. R2 and L2 serve as the gas and brake, and are also used to guide Joe in midair. L1 and R1 are used to perform mid-air stunts. Square is used to duck under obstacles and for super-jumps, and X is used for Turbo. In an excellent design decision, SELECT serves as an instant restart button, and when they say “instant start” they mean it. Hit SELECT, and with no loading whatsoever, you go back to the starting line. The instant restart option removes some of the frustration of having to replay the levels because you can jump back to the start after Joe crashes.
Just like Super Dave before it, part of the fun of Joe Danger is in watching the hero slam violently into the landscape. When you wreck, there is a loud BANG followed by Joe rag-dolling around for a few seconds. The organ-heavy music, funny ads and oohs and aaahs of the crowd add a dash of kitsch to the proceedings that fit the setting well.
The first two tours serve as tutorials, gradually introducing the player to all of Joe’s abilities before introducing Joe’s racing rivals: Team Nasty. The addition of a racing element to certain levels suddenly makes keeping your turbo meter full a high priority.
In addition to the many tracks of Joe Danger’s story mode, there is also a great track editor. In addition to being easy to use, the instant start function also works here, so you can try out your new creation just as soon as you lay it down. Tracks can also be shared online and there are plenty of slots available.
Joe Danger is pure arcade fun. It is a very entertaining game that succeeds in putting a modern spin on the Excitebike formula. With a long story mode, excellent track editor, and multiplayer, Joe Danger will provide lots of fun for many SUNDAY-SUNDAY-SUNDAYS!
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article id: 1631 | poster: OG