Hello Games has finally brought Joe Danger back to the spotlight with Joe Danger 2 The Movie. This zany follow-up to one of our favorite platforming/racing games takes everything that made the original great and then proceeds to expand upon it exponentially. Joe Danger 2 The Movie is an action-packed sequel that’ll keep players coming back for more. That being said, there are a couple of issues that prevent this stunt-filled XBLA title from being a flawless experience.
Those who skipped the original Joe Danger not only missed out on a really fun game, but are probably a little confused as to who this character is and why they should care about his debut on the fictitious big-screen. To clarify, Joe Danger is a retired stuntman who returned to glory in the first game, and now he’s made his way into Hollywood films. For the most part, the gameplay mechanics of the first title have remained intact for Joe Danger 2, but are now more varied thanks to the addition of several new vehicles.
Jetpacks, ATVs, skis, mine carts, unicycles, snowmobiles, and the iconic motorbike make up the entirety of Joe Danger 2’s drivable forms of transportation, and each plays in its own unique way. Jetpacks, for instance, require a different play style than the unicycle does. While all of the different rides are enjoyable for different reasons, and there’s really no denying the appeal of riding a unicycle through a dinosaur-infested jungle, I always found myself returning to the motorcycle or ATV, as they provide a greater focus on the locale and the obstacles that fill it.
Players will have a chance to utilize all of the game’s vehicles during Joe Danger 2‘s “Movie Mode.” The campaign spans six chapters, and completing each mission within a chapter will unlock the next one — so long as enough stars have been collected. The more stars players accumulate, the further they’ll be able to progress in the game’s story, and it’s the need to collect as many stars as possible, coupled with the zaniness of the gameplay, that really drives (no pun intended) the experience.
Joe Danger 2’s story does a good job of changing up the monotony that plagued its predecessor, thanks to all of the new ways Joe can tear across the track. Regardless of which chapter you’re in, there’s always a nice change of scenery that springs up to keep things feeling fresh, and all of the backgrounds and obstacles are filled with charm reminiscent of a Nintendo title. The cutesy characters only make the over-the-top wipe outs all the more hilarious, and there’s something special about a game that can make players, and curious onlookers, laugh out loud in pure ecstasy with every close call or crash.
While going through “Movie Mode,” players will begin racing big balls of light that have the occasional gamertag hovering over them. These are the ghosts of other players who have completed the level and set scores on Joe Danger 2‘s leaderboards, which can be done for every single-player level in the game. Trying to best random competition and friends alike in a global setting adds an entirely new layer to Joe Danger 2, and every race instantly becomes an attempt to better the scores of your friends for ultimate bragging rights.
Aside from the online ghosts and leaderboards, Joe Danger 2 features a full multiplayer mode. Up to four players can pick up a controller and race against each other in multiplayer, and it provides some of the most fun that can be had within the game. The way this mode works is fairly straightforward and easy to pickup, even for players who aren’t familiar with the game’s controls. All four players race to the finish line, and they’re given 5 hearts at the beginning of a match. Every time they crash or get punched off their vehicle by a traitorous friend, they lose a heart. Whoever crosses the finish line first will secure 3 medals, second gets 2, and third gets 1; these are then added to the remaining hearts a player has at the end of a race, and the person who has the most hearts/medals at the end wins.
It’s easy to imagine that Joe Danger 2’s multiplayer was handled this way in order to keep all of the action on a single screen, but there are some issues that arise from this layout. Players who were in last place prior to wiping out can spawn right in front of, or just behind, the front runners of the race, making death a viable strategy for dominating the competition. Another problem is that there aren’t many maps to play on. Sure, there’s a taste of almost every vehicle in the game within the confines of multiplayer, but there are only five maps to play through – making the fun that is had very short-lived – and there’s no online multiplayer, which is disappointing. Negatives aside, it’s always a blast to suit up as one of the game’s many characters for a quick round of knockout drag racing.
Joe Danger 2 The Movie also has a “Movie Maker” mode that allows anyone to build their own levels. The number of options available in the level editor is insane, and anyone with a bit of creative vision will be able to make levels that are as good as (or even better than) those featured in “Movie Mode.” Once a map has been created, it can then be uploaded so that Joe Danger 2 owners all across the world can play it. As you may have expected, you can download the levels that other people have made, too. The system is very similar to LittleBigPlanet, and it provides an unlimited number of new trails to bomb through long after “Movie Mode” has been put to rest. The only downside is that user-created content can’t be played by more than one person, so the desire for more multiplayer maps goes unfulfilled.
Despite a few issues with the otherwise fun multiplayer mode, Joe Danger 2 The Movie stands out as one of the best games available on Xbox Live Arcade. Completing “Movie Mode” doesn’t even scratch the surface of the huge amount of content in this title. With a mode devoted to deleted scenes (that’s almost as long as the game’s campaign), user-created content and multiplayer, Joe Danger 2 is more than worth its $15 price tag. Fans of the original and newcomers alike should definitely try out Hello Games’ latest action-packed outing — if only to take part in the madness that follows when instructed to punch a band of evil monkeys off of their motorcycles.
Joe Danger 2 The Movie is available right now on XBLA.
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