Joe Danger

Seriously, Call Kenny Loggins

Because when you play Joe Danger you're in the Danger Zooooooooone!
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: July 13, 2010
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I couldn't help it. After literally hours of trying and re-trying the same few courses in Joe Danger, something snapped and my head filled with hilarious Archer quotes. Now, it helps that Archer is an immensely quotable show, but it's even more important that Joe Danger is the stuff of OCD nightmares. It's digital crack being peddled by the four guys that founded Hello Games, and as a debut effort I haven't felt myself absolutely glued to a game since... well, probably not since Frequency and last I checked, those Harmonix guys are doing pretty well for themselves.

But if it just took a game with an infectious hook to catapult a dev house to instant fame, we'd probably have a lot more casual gaming superstars. In truth, what makes Joe Danger so amazingly good is that it's the total package; it has all the ingredients to be relentlessly addictive, yes, but it also has charm in spades, knows precisely how to encourage replay value and strikes the perfect balance between absolutely spot-on controls and levels that encourage you to use them to the fullest. This, ladies and gents, is the kind of game all breakout successes should be modeled after.

Is it perfect? No, of course not -- and it's entirely likely a first game never will be -- but the individual members of Hello Games clearly have the clout to crank out a game that any first-party studio would be proud to call their own. That's precisely what Joe Danger is: a long-jumping, back-flipping, superman-grabbing, wheelie-popping, perfectly-balanced, constantly-renewing source of... fun.

It's just fun and no matter how I break things down (and I will, I promise), that's really all that matters. All the high-res textures and anti-aliasing and smooth animation and HD resolutions in the world can't make up for a game that lacks that most important element. Joe Danger has fun, and thus you should buy it. Now. It also happens to have all those other things, meaning the PSN is a damn fine place for a game like this.

The idea is simple: get the recently out-of-retirement Joe from the starting line at the left end of a level to the finish line at the right. Along the way he'll encounter literal sharks to jump, ramps of all different inclines that will propel him through the air, hurdles to duck under, little bumps to vault and a whole hell of a lot of challenges. These run the gamut from just beating the time limit to the finish to having to run the entire course in one combo to collecting a bunch of little stars or large hidden ones.

The beauty of this system is that it requires that you go through the level a couple of times; with three "layers" of the course (a la LittleBigPlanet) to swap between at pre-set gates, different objectives are placed at different parts of the course. You'll be able to notch all the smaller stars in one go, maybe picking up all the letters that spell out D-A-N-G-E-R (complete with awesome "dan-gahhhhhhhh!" chorus upon collecting each one), but if you want to hunt for, say, a hidden big star, you'll likely have to forsake your quest for the time trial or comboing the entire level. Ah, but there's the rub: with enough practice, you can mix and max objectives -- the goals are literally about as hard as you make them (though some are obviously rather difficult by design; stupid time trials!).
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