Joe Danger 2: The Movie Review for Xbox 360

Joe Danger 2: The Movie Review for Xbox 360

A Dangerous Addiction

Joe Danger 2: The Movie is a game about reflexes and awareness. It’s a comical, farcical trip into the minds of a bunch of action-movie aficionados with an obvious passion for only the most cliché of genre elements, from avalanches and explosions to bank heists and high-speed chases. That isn’t to imply, for even an instant, that the game has any semblance of plot—the levels consisting entirely of action sequence after action sequence strung together into an endless cascade of beautiful carnage—but it does provide that little bit of tongue-in-cheek context that makes the goings on all the more absurd.

You are a stuntman, one of the bravest, the sort who would put Jackie Chan to shame with his sanity-defying antics. If it’s mobile, you’ll drive, ride, or pilot it. Mine carts, jetpacks, motorcycles, and even unicycles all bear the fearless bum of Joe. The movie’s genre? A pastiche of action classics, drawing on 1950s science fiction, James Bond , Indiana Jones , and a touch of The Italian Job . It’s a bit disappointing, actually, that the acts are named after one genre or another, but the levels themselves don’t really follow that theme, mixing and matching at will.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie Screenshot

Gameplay itself is fairly straightforward. The vast majority of the levels are chase sequences, in which one trigger accelerates and the other reverses. The exception to this is the jetpack, with which one button controls vertical thrust and another quickly drops Joe to the ground, the stick serving for lateral movement. You are in constant control of Joe, regardless of vehicle, such that his trajectory can be adjusted even in mid-air without pause. This allows, with enough practice, for extremely precise antics, which become increasingly necessary as the game progresses and the objectives expand beyond simple traversal. Joe can also duck, by holding down a button, and he hops when it’s released. There’s also a boost mechanic tied to a quickly drained meter, which can be refilled by performing stunts (done by moving the stick and tapping out sequences of bumper presses).

Though each level of Joe Danger 2 has one primary objective, most have a slew of optional ones as well. Any objective completed will garner stars, which are necessary for unlocking further levels. Note that stars from the main campaign are separate from stars gained in the “Deleted Scenes” mode, which consists of nail-bitingly difficult skill challenges that the game demands you play if you want to experience the full campaign.

It seems so simple at first. Just dash through each level, throw a few tricks out to build up some meter during jumps, and boost along. Its cartoony visuals will entrance you and a lot of what happens on screen looks dynamic, but doesn’t really affect anything. It makes the start of the game very forgiving, which is great for getting a feel for the basics. With each subsequent level, more is expected of the player. Tighter timing, quick decision-making, switching paths on the fly, catching up to villains and punching them off their motorcycles—it all starts to require intense finger gymnastics just to make it through a level with the main objective complete. By the end of the game, you’ll be rapidly tapping buttons and whipping the stick left and right, toggling between triggers to carefully land Joe atop a missile before it exits its silo.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie Screenshot

As mentioned before, the game uses a lot of tricks to keep its action looking dynamic. This ranges from background visuals and elements of the scenery breaking apart behind you to dramatic camera angles and billowing special effects. Often, though, these can get to be too much. Foreground objects might obscure an oncoming obstacle depending on when you reach that point in the level, though the obstacles also have a tendency to simply get lost, visually, in the onscreen chaos. There were occasional bouts of cursing and at least one handily suppressed urge to throw the controller, which quickly passed.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie Screenshot

While Joe Danger 2 can be frustrating at times, especially when it feels as though a mistake was out of one’s control or otherwise undeserved, it largely possesses that “one more try” quality associated with Super Meat Boy and its ilk. Objectives are varied enough to make each level its own experience and the optional stars will have more obsessive players, such as yours truly, going back through to collect those one missed on the first run-through (though it’s best to collect them all at once, unclaimed stars can be collected piecemeal on subsequent run-throughs). There’s no doubt that this is a finely honed, reflex-testing romp that draws on so many of the most enjoyable elements of classic Tony Hawk titles alongside more informal fare, such as Canabalt.

The question, then, is really one of value. Is Joe Danger 2: The Movie worth your money? Retailing at 1,200 Microsoft Points, it’s a more difficult question than one might expect. Yes, Super Meat Boy costs the same, but that game is finger-blistering hard, whereas Joe Danger 2 has a fairly gentle difficulty curve, depending on how much you really want to accomplish. Just navigating a level to completion is nowhere near as trying as in SMB or Trials HD (also the same price). Further, that price-point includes recent releases such as Dust: An Elysian Tail and Mark of the Ninja, the former of which is expansive and almost painfully beautiful, the latter innovative and slick.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie Screenshot

Joe Danger 2, in contrast, is kind of a glorified iPhone game. It’s Canabalt with distinct stages, Jetpack Joyride with more control complexity, a game that takes advantage of the tactile controls its platform offers, but doesn’t really evolve its concept in a meaningful way for the average gamer. Those who are willing to devote an excess of time to it will find that there’s a lot there beneath the surface, little idiosyncrasies in the controls that can entirely revolutionize the way one plays through earlier levels, but it’s a very small subset of the gaming public that’s going to get to that point. Further, its multiplayer mode, which is designed for up to four players, is local only.

Multiplayer draws primarily on the stunt mechanic. Players race through a level, racking up points by performing unbroken stunt combos as they would normally, but now those combos are incorporated with those of their teammates and competitors. While each race has a victor, the team as a whole also has a score, which posts to a leaderboard. It’s an interesting mix of score attack and competitive racing, but the fact that it demands multiple people at the same console is surprisingly prohibitive. In contrast, the level editor mode allows one to post user-created obstacle courses online or download those others have made, which introduces a bit more longevity to the game for the player who’s looking to get a little more involved.

Overall, the game is fun, yes. Very fun, and that’s probably the biggest thing to keep in mind about it; if it were 800 MSP, I’d say “jump on it!” without a second thought, but the equivalent of fifteen dollars? That’s a lot harder to swallow.

Charming, hectic, and vibrant. The only issue is that sometimes there’s too much clutter to decipher what’s happening onscreen. 4.5 Control
Intuitive and responsive, Joe Danger 2’s controls demand a little bit of extra dexterity on the pad, but they’re quick to pick up. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Satisfying sound effects, especially when Joe punches someone off a bike, mesh well with a soundtrack that definitely hits its high point during the robot invasion levels. 3.5 Play Value
The level editor means the game is effectively endless, but the linear nature of the core gameplay stymies this somewhat. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Become A Hollywood Stuntman – Strap on the helmet of Joe Danger and defy death to impress the Director. See the highlights of your replays brought together as a cinematic Film Trailer.
  • Unique Vehicles And Sets – Play as a suave skiing spy, a futuristic jetpacking rebel, or even a water-skiing, sky-diving, quad-biking jungle adventurer. Defeat laser-firing robots, escape chomping Jurassic Dinosaurs, or just wink to the camera as you crash spectacularly.
  • Create A Film – Take the loveable Joe Danger on a dramatic, cinematic journey from stunt double zero to movie star hero. Every level is a movie scene – race rivals, chase crooks, escape boulders, destroy robots, punch dinosaurs, and divert the nuclear missiles!

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