Four years ago Hello Games burst onto the PlayStation scene with their first ever game, a PSN title for the PS3 called Joe Danger. With Hello Games focused on bringing the beautiful No Man’s Sky to the PlayStation 4, Joe Danger’s Vita debut has been handled by developer Four Door Lemon – who have done a great job at bringing this game to the PlayStation Vita.
The game sees you play as Joe, a stuntman who is trying to get one up over a rival stunt team called ‘Team Nasty’. You will need to ride through each of the game’s stages trying to collect as many stars as possible in order to advance and unlock more stages in order to reach the game’s end.
There are various goals that will need to be achieved to collect these stars and these vary on each level. You may find yourself racing against other stuntmen, collecting the letters D-A-N-G-E-R or even stringing a combo together that lasts from start to finish to earn the 100% combo star. These level goals reminded me a lot like the ones that were a staple of the earlier Tony Hawk’s titles, with D-A-N-G-E-R being almost identical to collecting H-O-R-S-E back in Tony’s heyday.
Joe Danger is simple to pick up and play, but is difficult to master. Using the PlayStation Vita’s Right trigger to accelerate and the Left trigger to brake/reverse, you will attempt to make your way through the game’s many side-scrolling levels with both style and speed. You can use the left analogue stick to tilt Joe and his bike allowing for you to perform wheelies and ensure that he lands wheels first on the track below. Additionally, Square will allow for Joe to crouch under obstacles when held and leap over smaller obstacles when tapped. If you are lagging behind you can press X for a speed boost – with a meter that depletes and will refill when tricks are performed.
The control scheme is very simple, making some of the levels that little bit easier to playthrough. By being able to focus all your attention on the high-octane on-screen thrills and not worry about what you are pressing, the intuitiveness of the controls allows you to let your fingers do all the work and let your brain concentrate on the colourful courses that you need to complete.
If you have had the opportunity to play the PlayStation 3 version of Joe Danger, you will find that not much has changed when it comes to the PlayStation Vita version (which is not a bad thing). The game looks amazing on the PlayStation Vita, with bright colours and sharp visuals on display and three-dimensional, side-scrolling tracks for you to race through. Each of the tracks are littered with obstacles and ramps for you to jump and trick over. The various items that are laid out throughout the levels reminded me a lot of Sonic The Hedgehog, with spring pads, loop-the-loops and blue stars to collect that are not to dissimilar to Sonic’s golden rings.
There are levels that allow you to rearrange the layout of the track ahead, be it to rotate a ramp and place it in a position that will allow you to clear an obstacle or to place a spring pad underneath a hard to reach item. These levels allow for you to manipulate the environments using the PlayStation Vita’s touchscreen, and are quite fun when thrown into the mix alongside the other stages in the game.
Joe Danger’s cartoony looks are matched by a soundtrack that has many jazz influences. Although the soundtrack is not too bad, it does sound a bit samey if you are spending some time playing the game as opposed to playing it in short bursts. The sound effects are great though, and some do add an almost slapstick effect to the on-screen action.
With over 80 levels, a training mode for beginners and an ‘Ultra Hard’ mode for the more skilled stuntmen amongst us, Joe Danger is a game that will take you hours to beat. With the multiple gold stars available for completing certain objectives within a stage you can find yourself playing the same level a few times as you attempt to collect all the stars that you can. These gold stars are crucial to progress in the game, as they will be required to unlock more levels on your road to completion. There are also ‘Pro medals’ that are handed out if you manage to collect all the gold stars on certain stages in one run. This does sound tricky at first, but it can be done and I found myself going back and replaying stages until I finally managed a perfect run and achieved my medal. These medals will unlock extra characters in the game, and there is also a tease saying that they will also unlock further content in upcoming titles.
As if that isn’t enough to keep you busy, Joe Danger has a Sandbox mode that is accessible from the main menu. This mode will allow for you to create your own tracks to test your skills on and really does add that little bit extra to what is already a game packed full of content. The only thing that did disappoint me was that there is no option to share the levels and upload them for other Vita owners to play.
It is hard to criticise Joe Danger, the game is as good as it has ever been – and it is arguably ‘Best on Vita’ when it compares to other versions of the title available on other platforms. For me, I had a whole load of fun playing this title. The only thing that I did find was that when I was playing it for more than half an hour or so at a time I did find that it got a little repetitive, but then again in short bursts the game is great fun. I would recommend that everyone gave Joe Danger a look in, especially now that the game is free as part of September’s PlayStation Plus offerings!