Joe Danger 2: The Movie, continues the physics-stunt-based fun of the original while expanding the eponymous stuntman's repertoire of abilities with a wider selection of vehicles.
The most daring devil
In the first game Joe was trying to reestablish himself as the world’s greatest daredevil. So, having achieved his goal, where could he go in the sequel? Where else but his own movie!
Making Joe the star of his own cinematic escapade opens the door to dozens of new avenues. While the original Joe Danger was limited to motorbikes as the tiny hero flew over cars and buses, the celluloid setting allows him to move between setting and vehicles to ensure no two scenes are ever the same.
This sees the staring stuntman use bikes, skis, mine carts, jetpacks, and a host of other machines, as this hodgepodge of a movie shifts from archeological adventure to spy thriller. It makes for an exciting and varied game... but I am really glad I don’t actually have to watch the movie that Joe is making.
Despite the range of transportation used, the base controls are similar across each. On a control-pad this translates to the trigger buttons controlling accelerate and reverse, while the face buttons control boost, duck/dive, and stunts. This leaves the analogue stick free to control Joe's center of balance, enabling him to twist and spin in the air - and, at set points, move between the three lanes that make up many of the levels.
These controls make for a surprisingly natural experience that is only bogged down by the difficulty of some stages. There are multiple levels that are incredibly challenging, with obstacles zipping past at a lightening pace and Joe's onscreen enemies attempting to blast him out of the scene.
The main aim of each level is to reach the checkered flag, but this is supplemented by dozens of other challenges. Often these are simply collecting any one of the various items scattered through the levels, but can also include goals such as deactivating missiles, or sneaking past alarm sensors to make it to the line undetected. The only problem is that the collectibles feel like filler, forcing you to go back into missions to earn additional stars so you can unlock later stages.
My favorite of these additional challenges comes in the form of a Paperboy and a bowling level from the "Deleted Scenes". In the first of these, Joe must knock down other racers by hurling newspapers at them, creating a fun twist on the base mechanics.
Bowling sits in contrast to this as a unique game type that perverts the main mechanic (in a good way). Here, all you have to do is speed towards a ramp and launch the tiny stuntman skyward to guide him into the pins. This blends the basic bike skills with a new set of in-air abilities, as you try and get the right angle to take down all of your target.
Joe Danger 2's difficulty is supplemented by its bold style. The comic look of the action is fantastic, filled with larger than life characters and vivid candy colors - but it is so busy that at times it becomes hard to tease apart different elements when moving at speed.
On some levels this isn’t a huge problem. Slower stages give you time to process the action, and some shorter areas can simply be memorized. However, there are a few occasions when the game throws more at you than is manageable.
Problems arise around the longer, uncheckpointed, levels. Memorizing these proves incredibly challenging, as each restart sends you all the way back to the beginning. To make things even worse, some of these stages pit you against villains that randomly hurl all manner of obstacles into your path that must be avoided.
This proved infuriating to me as, time and again, I felt cheated by the way the game threw me back to the start of a frustratingly long level. And even the cheerful selection of dramatic movie styled music did nothing to lift my mood.
Joe Danger 2: The Movie is a charming take on the trick-based physics racing formula. Though it isn't quite as pure in its focus as titles like Trials, the range of vehicles and challenges keep it fresh and fun for all - even if at times it more accessible look and tone sits at odds with the difficulty.