In a time where video gaming has become such a dominant financial force, being created by large “studios”, with multiple departments, Joe Danger proves that with enough innovation and creativity, there’s still room for the little guy in gaming. Produced by Hello Games, ( 4 friends all with backgrounds in creating games with known companies such as Electronics Arts ), together they left their secure employment to venture out on their own, and their first published result was the creative, contagious, slapstick thrill ride Joe Danger.
Somewhat of a throwback, similar in feel to consoles and stand-up arcade games of old, Joe Danger has many of the essential elements to what makes a truly great game. Joe Danger’s presentation is bright and colorful, the music is pleasant and catchy, and the sound effects blend well with the music and compliment the entire Joe Danger world, but that’s still not Joe Danger’s strongest suit. That would be big time, old style, arcade fun. Sometimes in today’s gaming arena, with the heavy emphasis on perfect graphics, photographic realism, orchestra performed musical scores and other big budget production values, this joy of gaming can be lost in the process, but not with Joe Danger. Following the tried and true mantra that a game should be easy to learn, ridiculously addictive. and endlessly challenging to master, Joe Danger is the epitome of these values on all points.
To give an idea of the style of game play to the old school gamers of yesteryear, they’ll note Joe Danger’s partial similarities to a couple of once popular games; maybe if “Excitebike” and “Super Mario Bros.” were spliced together with cleaned up present day hi-res graphics, the result would be Joe Danger, although even this analogy would still be an oversimplification of this multi-faceted racing, platforming, puzzle-solving hybrid.
Joe Danger has no tutorial, the creators opting to be intelligently kind in it’s presentation, meaning it allows the gamer to warm up to the challenges ahead with graduated levels of difficulty, introducing the new skills or concepts that must be learned one at one time, incorporating them into the new level in a “learn by playing” manner. The control mechanics are sensitive with the right amount of “touch”, yet with practice, forgiving enough to safely negotiate the harrowing plethora of levels the game offers. The basic controls come quickly, and before long the gamer will be pulling amusing tricks and conquering levels. It’s in the category of truly challenging titles, is where Joe Danger is especially different than other notoriously difficult games.
Although it’s extremely unlikely a gamer will cruise through Joe Danger without a lot of level restarts and “do-overs”, one never gets the sense that level of difficulty it too high, only that success is eventually inevitable with enough trial and error. The makers of Joe Danger thankfully had the foresight and good gamer sense to make these restarts exceptionally quick and accessible, one press one the select button and all is forgiven, with no waiting during level loading. Ol’ Prof. Oblivion can’t remember the last time he crashed and burned this much, but still didn’t feel frustrated, instead actually chomping at the bit to try again.
Joe Danger doesn’t blaze any new trails in gaming, fair enough. It could even be suggested that it takes a couple steps back, but they’re good steps back, to a time in gaming almost forgotten now, where brightly colored, yellow munching mouths and a pix-elated little man jumping barrels could entertain us endlessly. Joe Danger is a very worthy homage to that kind of simple, addictive gaming fun, at a relatively small price, try it.
– Prof. Benny Oblivion