Review by horror_spooky

"Danger is my last name"

This generation has seen more innovation in video games ever in terms of how we play games. Games can now be complemented with downloadable content to pack more meat onto the experience. Nintendo has introduced motion control technology, and Microsoft has created a camera that turns players into the controller. Online multiplayer has sky-rocketed in popularity, and the achievement system has really changed the way we play games. Another major innovation this gen has been the introduction of original downloadable titles. Each major console has its own service. The Xbox 360 has Xbox Live Arcade; the Wii has WiiWare; and the PlayStation 3 has the PlayStation Network. For my first review of a downloadable game, I have chosen Joe Danger from the PlayStation Network.

If I were to describe Joe Danger, I would describe it as the older Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games, except with a motorcycle instead of a skateboard and an Evel Knieval knock-off instead of Tony Hawk. The game is broken up into many stages, each with a set of goals for players to complete to collect stars. Players have to complete levels in order to unlock the right to buy them with stars.

The goals in the levels are very reminiscent of the old Tony Hawk games. They may demand players to spell out D-A-N-G-E-R by collecting giant floating yellow levels. They may demand players beat the level in a certain amount of time, or they may ask the player to complete other various tasks, like finding stars that are hidden in hard-to-reach places in the levels. At first, this style of gameplay is very nostalgic and very addicting. Not to mention it's hilarious to crash into hurdles after boosting at full speed with the motorcycle, but Joe Danger gets old quickly.

That's its main problem. For $14.99, Joe Danger has a lot of content—a truly surprising amount for a PSN game. There are a lot of levels to play through, all the objectives to complete, trophy support, multiplayer, a level editor, and a video recording feature. The main issue with Joe Danger is that it just gets so damn boring and repetitive. For the first few hours, the game is more entertaining than I could put into words. I thought this game was going to demand hours upon hours of my life. Unfortunately, I was wrong this respect, as the thought of playing it now makes me feel sleepy. I had to force myself to clear up those last few levels just so I could write this review in good conscious.

Despite this issue of being extremely repetitive, I enjoyed the tough challenges that the game presented. When it comes down to it, most games today are just way too simple and easy. Joe Danger is a legitimate challenge that doesn't feel cheap and archaic. It's genuinely fun to tackle these goals. Does the repetitive nature of the title damper this enjoyment? Unfortunately, yes. But in short bursts, Joe Danger can be spectacular.

What could have been spectacular about Joe Danger is the multiplayer mode. The multiplayer allows for two-players to compete against one another in split-screen races and challenges. While this is fun for a little while, it also grows old quickly. The main reason for this isn't because it's repetitive, but the multiplayer levels that come with the game really have no soul. They're all different, and yet, they're all bland. They don't invoke any feelings of “Oh, that map was awesome! Let's play it again!” or “Oh, this map sucks, let's avoid it.” The multiplayer will be a one-stop shop. Players will go, see what it's all about, and then leave it alone for the rest of the game's life. To make matters worse, there's no online multiplayer to complement the offline multiplayer. If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times. Attention developers! If you're going to have multiplayer in your games, they HAVE to have (this is a NECESSITY) both OFFLINE and ONLINE multiplayer in order to be complete. One feature simply should not exist without the other. For shame.

The level editor was a good idea and it's a nice addition. Fun and exciting tracks can be made if there's enough time put into it, but in the aftermath of super-customizable games like LittleBigPlanet, Joe Danger doesn't create an explosion—more like a flash in the pan. The online user-sharing community is restricted to sending levels to those on your friends' list, or other players who you know, really. While it's not quite as annoying as Nintendo's horrendous Friend Code system, it's still quite a boring way to go about sharing user-generated content.

The feature that I liked a lot in Joe Danger was the video recording. Players can record themselves playing the game, pulling off crazy stunts, or making Joe wreck in a variety of hilarious ways. These videos are saved onto the PS3's harddrive and then it's a simple process to upload the videos to YouTube. It's fun to mess around with friends, record yourselves, and then share the insanity with the world. Are people really that interested in watching Joe Danger videos? Not quite, but it's still fun, and that's what matters. Coupled with the video editing tools that the PlayStation 3 comes packed-in with, the video recording system in Joe Danger is surprisingly advanced and highly intuitive. It's hard to beat it.

The character models in Joe Danger are colorful and neat. The animation isn't too bad either, and the ragdoll effects can be quite hilarious. However, similarly to the gameplay, the game's environment gets extraordinarily repetitive. The background is basically a desert theme throughout the entire game, from start to finish. All the levels start to blur together after a little while, and it almost becomes confusing. “Didn't I just play this level? I could have sworn…” There are nice visual effects like fireworks exploding out of targets and there aren't really any graphical mishaps or technical issues, which is a rarity in today's day and age. The load times are short and sweet as well.

“Joeeeeee Daaaaangerrrrr!” the announcer barks before every game. If I'm not mistaken, the commentator sounds like Captain Qwark from the Ratchet & Clank series. Regardless, the music is nice and quirky. It really gives a game a funky, childish vibe, but that's not a bad thing at all. Just because a game may feel childish doesn't mean the game is only for children. Joe Danger's level of difficulty will be daunting to most kids anyway, and just because it is outwardly childish in appearance and the musical presentation, don't discount it based on appearance.

Joe Danger is a victim of over-pricing. The game is a hefty package, but it's not entertaining enough to warrant a purchase. The gameplay is ultra-addicting at first, but it quickly becomes repetitive. The visuals are pleasing, but they are also repetitive and mind-numbing. The core gameplay is excellent, and if the game wasn't so pricey for a PSN title ($14.99 is a lot for a downloadable game), it would probably earn a higher score. However, it's repetitive nature, its price tag, its lack of online multiplayer, and the boring graphics really bring the down the overall enjoyment level of Joe Danger. I have a feelings fans of the classic Tony Hawk games may get a kick out of this one, but wait until the price goes down before you hop on the bike.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/16/10

Game Release: Joe Danger (US, 06/08/10)

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