LGR – Joe Danger – PC Game Review
*mechanical keyboard typing* No Man’s Sky! A game that has been hyped to a fever pitch with tons of mainstream press coverage and a mob of fans that go wild for every little detail, all for a game no one’s really played yet. I think it has the potential to be pretty neat with its massive procedurally generated universe to explore and all that but I also think that many folks are forgetting, or even don’t realize, that its developer, Hello Games, is a fifteen-person studio that’s only been around since 2008. In fact, just a little over three years ago, Sean Murray of Hello Games actually contacted me about reviewing the PC port of their first game, Joe Danger. I said I would when I got the chance, and the guy was just super nice about it and, hey, I’m a man of my word. But I’m just now getting to it. Sorry it took so long, Sean! I was probably distracted by burgers at the time. So, before I dive headfirst into the seemingly infinite universe of No Man’s Sky, it’s time to dive into Joe Danger! [Baby voice]
Hello! Well, wasn’t that cute? The game starts off with an intro sequence letting you know the basic story of stuntman Joe Danger who is a washed-up Evel Knievel type that wants to make his big comeback. So he does, and that’s about it. You’re dropped into the main menu and you’ve got all sorts of options, from playing single player career paths, to local multiplayer, to a… [Deep voice]
Practice MODE! which provides a friendly environment to get used to the game’s mechanics. Speaking of which, Joe Danger plays more or less like a cross between Excitebike and Trials HD with a dash of Tony Hawk thrown in there. So it’s a colorful cartoony sidescrolling racer with stunt-focused platforming elements and it is just as fun as it sounds! And by that, I mean it’s either a game that you’ll happily spend hours completing or you’ll play it for about thirty minutes and be done with it. I am, unfortunately, in the latter category. I don’t have a problem with Joe Danger itself, exactly, I just don’t care for this style of Groundhog Day game. You know, the kind of thing where you have to replay moments over and over and over and over to get as close as you can to a perfect score, otherwise you can’t progress. You have to collect just the right number of items or do just the right number of things in a challenging environment to even move on, because many key levels are locked away until you pay for them with in-game currency and just, aaagh, no thanks. I’m sure this appeals to certain kinds of perfectionists who love playing against the clock and slowly fine-tuning their dexterity, but that’s just not me. Now, with that out of the way, as far as these types of games go, Joe Danger is an incredibly accessible one. You have controls for accelerating, braking, boosting, ducking, jumping, and doing stunts, and with a controller, it works very well. The physics are also quite forgiving, with Joe having some kind of rubberized adamantium skeleton or something that keeps him going even when it looks like he should be dead. All along the way, you’ll be drip-fed a set of new features and track pieces that provide a steadily increasing challenge. And when you’re tired of the career mode, you can start making your own tracks using an easy-to-use editor that lets you test sections of track on the fly. Aside from the gameplay itself that’s not really my style, about the only other thing that I really disliked were the foreground objects getting in the way and the camera sometimes being finicky. This made certain track sections far more difficult than they should have been. One other thing I should mention is regarding the controls, and, well, it’s obvious this was a console port. There’s a painful lack of PC optimization, like showing Xbox controls on-screen even if you’re playing with a keyboard, sluggish and imprecise mouse movement, and featuring very few options to mess with. There’s also some frame rate issues in multiplayer mode which, by the way, is offline-only. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad game by any means; it’s vibrant and comical and very easy to pick up and play. It’s just that it tends to frustrate me more often than it provides a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, that’s because of technical issues, but more often than not it’s because I simply don’t feel compelled by this style of gameplay. So I don’t fault it for that, but I do feel that it’s worth making sure that you know what kind of game it is. Speaking of which, they also made Joe Danger 2 The Movie in 2012. And it’s more or less the same game, except this time instead of just motorcycles, you’re also taking control of minecarts, jet-assisted skis, and quadbikes all while pulling off stunts and enduring countless action-movie clichés. And, man, they amped up the energy in this one. It’s almost sensory overload! Again, though, there’s lots of perfectionist gameplay going on that kind of isn’t what I like, and it’s still an obvious console port. There are even more frame rate issues, and it includes far too many unskippable cutscenes, which is minor, but, you know, it bothers me, so that’s what it is. So, yeah, if the first game didn’t grab my attention, this one isn’t making it any better. But even if you’re like me and don’t really care for this type of game for very long, it’s still fascinating to say hello to Hello Games’ games before No Man’s Sky comes out. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if they can pull off what they’ve promised with that game with such a small team and such humble beginnings as Joe Danger, then I will be doubly impressed. Let’s just hope it gets a better PC port than these games did and has a bit more compelling gameplay as well. [Joe Danger Menu Music plays] And if you liked this review and would like to see my No Man’s Sky review coming up, it’s coming up. So stay tuned for that or just check back every Monday and Friday for other episodes or see some of my previous ones linked to right here. And you can always check me out on Patreon if you’d like to see episodes early and support the show Helps a whole lot! And, as always, thank you very much for watching LGR.