The original Joe Danger was a surprising success, especially considering it was Hello Games’ first release. The combination of physics-based motorcycle racing, 2D platforming, and cartoony humor pulled in the casual and hardcore crowds alike. That same essence lives on in Joe Danger 2: The Movie, only highly amplified. Hello Games went big with their sequel and, for the most part, nailed the landing.
As the title suggests, Joe’s making a movie, so every scene of every act centers around one flashy main objective. This concept gives players--both Joe Danger veterans and newcomers--a fantastic and refreshing incentive to progress. Instead of expecting a similar yet more difficult scenario for the next stage, as was the case in the original Joe Danger, players have exciting new set pieces to look forward to (though still, the difficulty does increase as you’d expect). Highlights from these set pieces include dodging helicopter missiles, escaping an avalanche, and punching an armored car until it explodes.
And because movies don’t work without scene changes, Joe Danger 2 offers enough variety to entertain those who tired of the motorcycle and desert combination of the original game. Joe now ventures into snowy mountains, city streets, science labs, and dinosaur-filled jungles. He’s no longer restricted to a motorbike, either. Admittedly, many rideable options are simply variations on the motorbike concept (snowmobiles, mine carts, ATVs), but jet packs, unicycles, and skis offer jarring changes of pace to coincide with the aforementioned scene variety.
Completing scenes’ primary requirements earns you stars required to unlock later levels, but there are other methods of obtaining stars, too. Much like the original Joe Danger, each scene has up to five additional objectives such as maintaining a 100% trick combo or finding secret items. And since these goals can all be tackled on separate runs, you don’t have to stress about the clock while platforming to reach every nook and cranny--unless you’re after the elusive Pro Medals, which require completing all objectives in a single run. This hunt for stars and medals are the crux of Joe Danger 2’s replayability, and, combined with the improved level editor, extend the potential play time into the 10-20 hour range and beyond.
While everything mentioned above effectively erases the most commonly cited faults of the original game, Joe Danger 2 does retain certain flaws. Later levels are less about skill and reflexes and more about memorization and repetition. Getting the most value out of the game--completing all objectives and beating the super-challenging “Deleted Scenes” levels--requires serious patience, meaning casual players and some newcomers will only enjoy Joe Danger 2 for about three to four hours before hitting an impenetrable wall of frustration.
And while multiplayer has been expanded from two-player to four-player, it’s still restricted to single-screen local--meaning no online option. There are five different modes with depth of scoring and varying objectives, but each mode only features one level. Racing against your friends’ and the community’s ghosts is also a fun addition, but considering the robust offerings in single-player mode, multiplayer is comparatively deficient.
Joe Danger 2: The Movie succeeds in retaining the raw fun that made the original game great while amping up the excitement and variety. Casual players will enjoy the action-packed scenes while the hardcore crowd will relish the challenge of gathering all 30 pro-medals and sharing their custom level creations online. It’s a worthy successor and one of the most standout XBLA titles this year.