Danger is his...er...last name? That’s right, Joe Danger is on the comeback trail, now fully recovered from his debilitating accident, and looking to regain the fame he once had...again. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because this isn’t Joe’s first comeback. Releasing back in the summer of 2010, Joe Danger took PSN by storm, garnering a tank full of praise from consumers and critics alike (we gave it a 9.1). Now, Joe is back, taking his gravity-defying motorcycle stunts to Xbox LIVE Arcade, and bringing something “special” along with him.
Those that didn’t play the original PSN release, Joe Danger was once a high profile stuntman, a household name, thumbing his nose in the face of Death as he performs all manner of outrageous stunts on his motorcycle. Think Evel Knievel, as interpreted by Pixar. Anyway, his luck ran out during the biggest stunt of his career, leaving him broken, literally. He defied the odds though, and soon regained the ability to walk again, as and soon h was hitting the circut with his bike. Now, he wants to get back into the limelight, as well as laying claim to the title Master of Disaster, the pursuit of which is what almost ended his career the first time around. However, since he’s been out for so long, he has to start from the bottom and work his way back up, which is where you come in...
"It isn’t often a developer puts in this much love when porting over an existing title from another service. But Hello Games did it, and the final result is the best version of Joe Danger to date."
XBLA players will immediately draw ties to RedLynx’s Trials HD, and rightfully so. It’s a physics based racer with platforming and puzzling elements blended in for taste. The biggest difference is where Trials is more of a class in physics manipulation, Joe Danger takes that and pours on tricks, stunts, collectibles, other racers, and a healthy dose of cutesy CGI for flair. Players will guide Joe through many different obstacle courses, maneuvering their way to the finish line and gathering stars by meeting certain requisites, such as collecting all the collectibles, or spelling the word D-A-N-G-E-R by nabbing the letters scattered about the race. Other times you’ll be tasked with bumping your stunt meter to 100%, done by - you guessed it - performing a wide variety of stunts, from popping wheelies to waving to the crowd, grabbing big air or even hitting the Superman before landing your bike.
All the other features from the PSN version are present and accounted for. The Sandbox mode lets players create their own tracks and share them with their Xbox LIVE friends, as well as receive those tracks pieced together by their friends. In fact, the editor is so simple that you can have a track ready with just a handful of button presses, making it very friendly for even the least creative types out there. It’s this simplicity that made Joe Danger so...er...special...in the first place. It permeates the entire experience. Where Trials brutalized you for not being skilled enough to finish the meticulously crafted tracks, Joe Danger steps in and holds your hand, only to a point though. Hello Games made sure that you never fell frustrated, no matter how high of a challenge they set in front of you.
The visuals follow the same simplistic, yet endearing theme. Cartoony and fun, the art style is simultaneously deceptive and adorable, making the game family friendly, but hiding the challenge that lies buried within. Vibrant colors make everything pop, while the design work keeps its tongue lodged firmly within its cheek. This is a fun racer that never takes itself seriously.
So what makes this a “Special Edition”? Well, XBLA players get The Lab, almost a whole other game in itself. Presented as somewhat of a tutorial mode, and having a reduced number of tracks compared to the Career mode, The Lab gives players an opportunity to practice all the skills they need to take Joe back to the top of the food chain. It has a wholly separate progression system, complete with its own collectibles and objectives. Also on tap for the SE are the Pro Medals, which amount to an even higher level of accolades than what the original game offered. These aren’t easy to attain, mind you, as the only way to get them is to accomplish all of the Star objectives on a certain track in a single run. Trust me what I say, this is NOT a walk in the park! Rounding out the package are VASTLY improved load times (PSN vets will tell you, the load times were horrendous), as well as better anti-aliasing (making it prettier) and some new characters, such as the free Santa Danger DLC they release just before Christmas.
If given a choice, Joe Danger: Special Edition is the one to get. The PSN release was great, but the Special Edition is simply a more well-rounded package, featuring the needed improvements and extra goodies that are sure to extend the life of the game quite a bit. It isn’t often a developer puts in this much love when porting over an existing title from another service. But Hello Games did it, and the final result is the best version of Joe Danger to date. If you like Trials HD (and I know LOTS of you did), Joe Danger is a must-own. It’s safe to say that Joe is once again front page news.
Release date : 2011-12-14
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Developer : Hello Games
Gameplay : Racing
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