Joe Danger burst onto the scene from out of nowhere and was a resounding success, receiving glowing reviews from every corner of the gaming landscape. Not prepared to hide in the shadows and accept the moniker ‘one-hit-wonder,’ developer Hello Games returned with Joe Danger 2: The Movie, proving that there was still plenty of fun to be had with gaming’s latest, greatest stuntman. Fresh off the heels of his last release, he makes an (almost) flawless return to the Playstation Vita.
I’ve always considered it to be the ultimate in lazy journalism when a product is described as ‘something meets something else’ but, if you’re unfamiliar with Joe Danger, it really is the best way to describe the hook. Joe Danger is like Excite Bike meets Sonic the Hedgehog; it’s a fast-paced, side-scrolling racer come platformer and yes, that’s a good thing.
Rather than just barrelling along tracks on a motorbike, though, the titular Joe gets to pilot jetpacks, minecarts and pretty much everything in-between thanks to his new job as a Hollywood stuntman. Each of these vehicles plays very similarly but there are subtle differences to keep you on your toes and prevent things from becoming stale. Most importantly, though, every single vehicle can be operated with tight, precise controls that never leave you feeling frustrated or cheated.
The Hollywood setting is also the basis for the game’s movie-themed levels and come with so-bad-they’re-good movie pun titles like Indiana Bones, Joe-rassic Park and, my personal favourite, Beverley Thrills Cop. Just like the game’s vehicular variety, each level switches things up enough to keep things fresh. Some levels are more platforming and exploration based while others rely on sharp reactions to quickly navigate obstacles and prevent poor Joe from meeting his demise.
Similarly, each level has a main objective to complete as well as a series of side tasks. While the side quests are largely the same in every level (collect this, collect that), each level’s main objective forces you to play the game in a totally different way and suits the particular movie theme to a tee. For instance, one of the spy-themed levels has you disarming missiles by landing on top of them then, a few levels on, a police chase charges you with punching a set of fleeing criminals off their bikes.
Joe Danger 2’s strongest asset really is variety, variety and more variety. Every level feels different to the last and the game just doesn’t allow you to become bored with the proceedings.
Port house Four Door Lemon have done an impeccable job in bringing Joe Danger 2 to Sony’s portable platform, with the game running as smoothly as you could hope for and, unlike many other ports, I didn’t experience any slowdown whatsoever. Most impressive, though, is how beautiful the game looks on the Vita’s display; its explosive colour scheme beams out of every corner of that screen.
The only downer is that multiplayer hasn’t managed to make its way over from the home console and PC iterations of the game.
Multiplayer or not, Joe Danger 2: The Movie’s single-player campaign offers more than enough incentive to dust off your Vita and jump into one of gaming’s purest forms of fun. Unlike a lot a movies, this is one sequel worth seeing and playing. You need to play it.