Originally released on the PlayStation 3 in 2010, Joe Danger puts you in control of the titular stuntman and has you charging through a selection of courses that will test your skill and reflexes, as well as your patience, with their lovably devious ingenuity.
While original developers and publishers Hello Games work on the upcoming sci-fi masterpiece-in-potentia, No Man’s Sky, porting for this and the sequel (due soon) is being handled by Four Door Lemon, and so far it appears they’re doing an excellent job, bringing over not only the original game but also all the DLC so far and a few new characters in the form of LittleBigPlanet’s Sackboy and Tearaway’s Iota and Aoti.
Being the world’s most dangerous and fearless mototcycle stuntman requires Joe, he of the impossibly square jaw and bright spandex, to hurl himself into some pretty lethal situations, and it’s your job to guide him through safely while turning enough tricks to rack up the biggest score multiplier possible.
The controls are deceptively simple, leading you to believe you’re in for an easy ride. The right trigger takes you forward, the left takes you back, Square ducks and jumps, X activated your booster and various combinations of Circle and Triangle cause Joe to perform mid-air holds to excite the crowds.
Courses begin with light obstacles like speed bumps, hurdles and loop-de-loops, but soon throw up rings of fire, shark tanks and rows of cars to hurl yourself over. Throughout each course are certain challenges that earn you the stars needed to compete in further levels. Where many games would simply allow in-app purchases to do the hard work for you, Joe Danger requires you to improve your own level of ability to move on. These challenges might be to collect all the silver stars, earn a certain number of points or find all the hidden letters, and make every course that much more dynamic.
Aside leaderboards and ghost races, there’s also a training ground to hone your skills and practice your combos, or an in-depth level editor, called the Sandbox, that allows you to chop and change every part obstacle in a course to develop and share your own challenges. Easy to use and great fun to play with, the level editor feels like a free gift they didn’t have to include when the package is already so content-heavy (the 80+ levels and 25 unlockable characters will keep you going for a good spell).
Bright and cheerful, Joe Danger has a charm to its aesthetics that make every stage a joy to play even when you’re chewing your tongue in frustration – and you will occasionally find yourself tested by the level design. Slapstick visual humour is the order of the day, too, adding to the undeniable likability factor.
Sometimes the physics can seem a little weird as your motorcycle almost magically reverses in mid-air or you land on your face and suffer no penalty, when hitting a hurdle face-on will end the attempt and restart the level, but the rules of Joe’s world are so wilfully bonkers that it doesn’t really matter.
VERDICT: Joe Danger is an absolutely perfect fit for the Vita, the small courses making it the ideal game to play either in short chunks or larger blasts depending on your situation. It looks vivid and colourful on the handheld’s small screen and offers a huge amount of content for a relatively low price. Challenging and addictive, Joe Danger is one cunning stunt that’s well worth undertaking.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.