Joe Danger: Special Edition Review
It’s weird, you know? One minute, Microsoft swears that no games that started out as a PlayStation Network exclusive would EVER end up on Xbox Live. The next, the company themselves is working with Hello Games on a release of Joe Danger: Special Edition, a game that originally started out over at Sony’s camp. Heh, I guess it just depends on the game, eh? Gotta wonder if Super Stardust HD may follow suit someday. (Doubtful.)
Anyway, Joe Danger: Special Edition, which is available today, brings all the stunt-mastering goodness of the original over to the Xbox Live platform, complete with a few new exclusives that players will enjoy to no end. While there could be some question with the new price point and the amount of space the game takes on the hard drive (1.6 GB compared to 332 MB over on PlayStation), it still offers nearly endless amounts of joy.
In the game, you control Joe, a stuntman who’s had his fair share of time in the spotlight, only to crash in a very nasty manner and tumble back to the bottom. He’s on the verge of a comeback, and as the player, it’s up to you to earn him the most points possible across each course. This includes collecting stars, performing stunts and finding other goodies through each track, including DANGER letters that are scattered here and there. Some challenges also require dexterity over speed, such as directing yourself mid-air after hitting a spring or landing wheels down after several flips.
Joe Danger coolly blends stunt racing with speed, kind of a merge of Excitebike and Trials HD. Keeping calm will help earn you the most points, though it never hurts to run through a level two or three times in order to learn where everything is. Your best scores post through an online leaderboard with friends, so you can always see where you stand and what else you need to collect in order to push even further forward. It never pressures you, like Trials HD occasionally did. Also, when you do go back, the game’s sense of fun never really fades.
That’s due to Hello Games’ simplistic approach to controls. You never really falter to the point you feel discouraged, as you might have in Trials, as Joe easily dusts himself up and goes after the finish line again. (You can always instantly restart at the beginning if you need to.) The way that stunts are performed is quite breezy, through a combination of analog stick movements and shoulder button presses. We admit, some of the stunts look quite dazzling, even for a cartoon-style game such as this.
The tracks, though, are what really stand out. Some are built for speed, while others require you to perform to the best of your ability to get the best score imaginable. There are literally dozens to go through here, including a series of exclusive tracks dubbed The Lab, featuring a terrific new background and tons of challenges, online and off. When you’re done, you can hop into the Sandbox and create your own track using a variety of tools that Hello Games has so graciously supplied. The only downside is that you’re limited to sharing your creations and trying out new ones through the people on your friend list.
Along with playing splendidly, Joe Danger: Special Edition also looks the part. The sensational graphics haven’t lost a beat since their PSN debut, and the variety really pulls together through each track, whether you’re jumping over fake shark pits or hopping across several school buses. The music could’ve been a little less repetitive; the twangy guitars and stunt-inspired tunes get a little old, but that’s what the Xbox Music Player is for, so crank it up. Joe doesn’t have any wisecracks to deliver, so you’re not missing anything outside of occasional motor hums.
Along with single player, Joe Danger also has local multiplayer; you can race a friend one-on-one and take on Ai riders. It’s interesting, but the lack of online compatibility is quite noticeable. Joe’s got a bigger online community than most folks may think. Hello Games might want to consider adding it as DLC down the road.
On the Xbox 360, Joe Danger: Special Edition does take up more space on a hard drive than we thought, and it’s priced at $15, compared to the $5-something it sold for over on PSN. However, the new Lab challenges, along with the various single-player levels and the inclusion of Sandbox, do make up quite a bit of value, so don’t let that throw you.
What was once exclusively Sony’s gain is now a huge asset to the Xbox Live game library. Joe Danger: Special Edition is every bit as good as its PSN counterpart, and in some ways even better. The added content goes a long way, and though there’s no online multiplayer, the leaderboards will keep you busy. This is sure to get your motor revving long enough for Hello Games to finish up work on the sequel in 2012. Till then, we suggest you hit the stunt track, Evel Knievel.