Nine months ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Joe Danger: Special Edition on the Xbox 360. That XBLA title was a hell of a good time and a great example of what a good arcade title should look like. Now, developer Hello Games is back with their sequel, Joe Danger 2: The Movie. The narrative has changed somewhat, but they’ve kept the core gameplay intact. For those of you interested in more Joe Danger goodness, you’re in for a treat.
Central to playing Joe Danger is a pliable gameplay engine that mixes racing, tricking, jumping, and battling. For neophytes to the Joe Danger series, the game pits players in a series of races and puzzles that require a motorcycle or other vehicle to make it to the finish line. Some levels are simple races with an array of traps or tricks, while other levels are mobile boss battles that require fierce battling amidst a series of dangerous traps. The game is a blend of Excitebike, Trials HD, Tony Hawk, and every game that ever had a boss battle.
While the core gameplay of Joe Danger 2 is the same as its predecessor, a new narrative changes how the story can be interpreted. The six main stages all have a certain genre that ties the levels together. Some of the stages are based off of James Bond movies while others play off Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones. These themes make for fun homages and help the game feel more than just a cartoon version of Trials. I would have a liked a bit more story outside of the levels via cutscenes, but the developer seems more interested in gameplay than narrative.
The gameplay of Joe Danger 2 is near perfect. The vehicles reach exactly as they should and the game isn’t so punishing that new players will quit too soon. With that said, when the challenges get harder, player will be forced to play the same levels over and over 30-40 times at least. Plus, if you’re looking to complete every stage you’ll need to be incredibly patient.
A new gameplay challenge in this sequel is floundering grenades that you’ll need to dodge. These grenades function like the traps from the first game but bounce at random trajectories. Players have to listen for auditory clues to identify whether to duck under a grenade or jump over it. Unfortunately, the auditory clues were annoying to me because I couldn’t audibly discern between the words “jump” and “duck” while driving a motorcycle at 40 mph. This was a minor annoyance at first, but elevates to being a major one when it prevented me from passing a necessary level.
I also found that although the graphics are much better in this sequel, there’s way too much going on in the background and foreground of this game. Sure, the settings are full of life and vibrant, but in the end these extensive graphics are more distracting than necessary and take away from enjoying the gameplay to it’s fullest.
I spent the majority of time playing the single player stages and the deleted scenes that correspond with single player. Burning through these stages will only take a couple of hours. There’s a stage editor, leaderboards, and same console multiplayer to add to the value and overall time played. However, the real crux of the time spent playing this game is completing the harder stars on each level. It’s not hard to beat the basic game; it’s completing all of the stars that will leave you crazed.
I had a good time with Joe Danger 2, but the updates and upgrades in the game aren’t so drastic that it eclipses the last game. I think fans that completed the first game will enjoy this game but I’m not convinced this is a must buy from newbies to the franchise. It’s an enjoyable experience but just a shade behind the original.
CraveOnline received one copy of Joe Danger 2: The Movie for the Xbox 360. Before starting our review, we played through 95% of the single player game.