When the original Joe Danger launched back in 2010, it was a sleeper hit that offered a more colorful and vibrant answer to the very unforgiving and (by comparison) dark look of Trials HD. A motorcycle game that felt like the perfect unison between Excitebike and the Mario series, its perfect controls and sense of exploration made it a standout hit with critics and fans alike.
Two years later, Joe returns for a sequel in Joe Danger 2: The Movie. True to its name, it’s a Hollywood-style followup where everything is bigger, flashier, and certainly louder. And for the most part, everything comes together without a hitch. While it may be bogged down by its overly ambitious nature, Joe Danger 2: The Movie is an excellent sendoff to a series that has come and gone in the blink of an eye.
After making a successful comeback to the world of stuntriding in the first game, Joe Danger has been hired as the stuntman for “the world’s greatest action movie ever”. It’s here where the game’s presentation truly shines. Scenes are littered with huge action set pieces, from avalanches to detonating nukes, and levels titled “Dr. Snow” and “The Temple of Boom” will elicit chuckles from even the most austere of gamers. This extends to the level designs themselves; unlike the first game, Joe will be riding and tricking his way through city streets, jungles, snow capped mountains and more.
Because Joe can’t ride a motorcycle through an avalanche (though he could certainly try), he’s been outfitted with a bevy of new vehicles, from skis and snowmobiles to jetpacks and ATVs. And it’s here where Joe Danger 2: The Movie both simultaneously shines and stumbles. One of the most common complaints from the first game was the lack of variety in terms of vehicles. And while developer Hello Games has certainly remedied that, the new vehicles are not as much fun to ride around in. Skis and minecarts are more sluggish in terms of movement, and jetpack levels lose a sense of difficulty when you’re able to move freely in all directions. Granted, this wouldn’t be an issue if these levels were few and far between, but Joe’s trusty motorcycle isn’t the star of the show, and is downgraded to a supporting role along with his other co-stars.
Littered throughout each scene are a handful of level requirements, which earn you stars upon completion. Simply reaching the finish line or carrying out the main objective will net you a star or two, but there are a handful of optional scenarios, much like the original Joe Danger. From collecting letters to spell out D-A-N-G-E-R to maintaining an 100% combo throughout the entire level, there’s always plenty to do, and each scene shakes things up enough to keep you entertained. The elusive Pro Medals also make a comeback, requiring you to complete every single objective in a level on a single run. While completionists would be content with simply collecting them, Pro Medals also award you with a handful of additional costumes with which you can outfit Joe. The hunt for medals, stars, and completing the game’s “Deleted Scenes” — a group of particularly difficult levels — extends the potential playtime into the 15-20 hour range and beyond, multiplayer and level editing excluded.
While it may not have made the jump to online, the multiplayer mode has returned, this time allowing you to race and battle with up to 3 other friends. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of levels, but the main attraction comes in the form of the improved level editor. This time around, you’ll be able to upload your creations to a level sharing hub, and a simple rating system helps weed out the true gems from the rest. And while any form of online play is off the table, the game gives you the option to race against your friends’ and the community’s ghosts.
While it may not live up to its predecessor – a game that set the bar very, very high – Joe Danger 2: The Movie is not only a worthy sequel, but is a fitting sendoff to a series whose charm and polish is the result of a team that has a passion for creating games. To Hello Games, I doff my proverbial hat!
A review copy of Joe Danger 2: The Movie was provided by Hello Games.