Going independent, especially after having been a developer of big titles, must be quite an experience. However, it seems that those who do go through this process somehow retain their passion for making games (unless you’re someone who can’t take the pressure). They then come up with titles that may not be like the big name titles, but they do come out with something special in some way. It may seem that way with Joe Danger as well.
Joe Danger is the debut effort of Hello Games, a UK-based indie developer. This game was actually released way back in June 2010 on the PlayStation Network and December 2011 for the Xbox Live Arcade. It then got a PC release on June 2013, and is about to get an iOS release on January 2014. Hello Games is composed of former Criterion and Electronic Arts employees, and it may seem at first to be a step down to make a game like the Burnout and Need for Speed series. However, what they had come up with here is still worthy of their talents, even with its simplicity and smaller scale.
You play as Joe Danger, who is an Evel Knievel-type character who jumps over gaps and ravines with his motorcycle. The game plays like a sidescrolling platformer, and you have to guide Joe through all the shenanigans he puts himself through. Aside from singleplayer, there is also a multiplayer mode for those who want to take the game further. There are also features like a level editor that extends the replay value a bit more as well. Despite that though, it’s still not much since there are limited options in both the multiplayer and sharing your custom track, especially in the iOS as they’re absent there, but at least they’re there for the most part in the other versions to play around with.
Everything in this game looks bright and colorful, with a cartoonish quality to it that makes Joe look as foolhardy as he sounds. The soundtrack matched the visuals and gives the game much of its whimsical atmosphere, and it all adds up to the feel of this game. Even if the gameplay starts getting tough, it’s not tedious as the fun stays consistent. There is a sense that this game was made with fun primarily in mind, from its visuals to the gameplay itself. Joe Danger does exude charm and flair somehow, which is surprising for a small title. But perhaps that’s a testament to the talent of the developers behind it.
A few differences between the different versions do come up when it comes to the controls. The previous versions of the game did feature intuitive controls that fans of platformers would get into almost immediately. As for the mobile version, which is perhaps the make-or-break part for this game, it seems that the Hello Games realized that the shortcomings of the touchscreen must be addressed, and they did so with thoughtful insight. They must have looked at what worked for the mobile platform as they turned Joe Danger from a classic platformer into a runner.
The movement in the game for the mobile version was made fluid by removing a complicating element, which is having to control the forward motion. By making it an runner, you can just focus on jumping, ducking, and doing tricks, which it does very well if you don’t have to juggle it with going forward. What it does though is make the iOS version a different game from the previous versions.
If you do get a hold of this game for anything other than the iOS, give it a chance and you might be surprised by how fun it is. But if you really want to get the mobile version, you’ll find out why it became a hit in the App Store. If you really get a good feel for this game, and if you get the chance to, then you can play both the console/PC and mobile versions to judge for yourself.
Tested in PC and iOS. Final Score: 8/10