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Hands-on | Joe Danger

Format: PC/Xbox360/PS3 (TBC) | Genre: Platformer | Publisher: TBC | Developer: Hello Games | ETA: Spring 2010

By Daniel Lipscombe

joedanger1I’ve never seen so many grins – real grins; big, Cheshire Cat grins – as those tucked away in a corner of this week’s Eurogamer Expo.

On two machines in the event’s Indie Games Arcade sat Joe Danger, a simple and wonderful game, one that delivers buckets full of charm and left those who played it mesmerised.

It might be easiest to say Joe Danger takes the mechanics of Trials HD and gives it a cartoon finish, but it’s so much more than that. Admittedly, Joe rides a stunt bike, jumps off and onto things, and stunts his way around a variety of courses. But the similarities end there, as Joe Danger really has more in common with the platformers of the 16-bit era. Jumping from ramps, flipping through the air collecting stars and letters, Joe would feel right at home next to the early Mario games.

Much like any platformer, Joe Danger is a simple affair on the surface, with pick-up-and-play controls, a bright and friendly interface and an addictive charm. Pick up the controller and it’s easy to start playing and score a few points. Give it to one of the developers, though, and feel that grin turn into an astounded expression as he doesn’t just smash your score, but completely obliterates it. Underneath that simple premise is a system that will allow those who enjoy high score chasing to chain complex stunt patterns and beat their friends on the leaderboards.

It would be nice to say this game will be with you soon, but unfortunately nothing is yet set in stone. Creative Director David Ream informed us that Joe Danger is loosely scheduled for a spring 2010 release. Interestingly, though, it’s yet to be signed to a platform. We may have been playing with a 360 controller, but it was hooked up to a PC. But the game will definitely be available in digital download format, said Ream, with the team aiming at PSN, XBLA and PC.

//Create your own
Joe Danger would happily sit on any of those platforms, thanks to its community-based spirit. Ream showed us what could well be the cherry on the cake: the game’s level editor. Not content with a career mode, trick mode and multiplayer, Hello Games have added the opportunity for players to craft their own stages to share with the community. And the beauty of this editor is that it’s inspired by that of LittleBigPlanet.

joedanger2Opening the design screen, Ream showed us the many items that can be added to the blank canvas level, in this case a Wild West style backdrop. With just a few simple button presses, there was a ramp; in front of that, 50 cars. With another press of a button, it was time to test the course and fly off of the end of the ramp.

Just as Joe was about to land, Ream paused the game and entered the edit screen. By switching modes so easily, you can see how your level will play while you’re still building. After dropping in a shark tank at the precise point Joe was to land, Ream restarted the level, leaving Joe to plunge into the tank to be eaten by the hungry sea creature. The creative opportunities are almost endless, and any level you make can be shared among your friends, via whichever service snaps up this already wonderful game.

It’s no wonder that Joe Danger is shaping up to be so good, considering the talent producing it. The small team of four friends boasts a working history of games including Burnout, Geometry Wars Galaxies, Moto GP and even Black. According to Ream, the game has been in development for around a year already, and with a few more months left until launch… well, it’s difficult to imagine where the extra effort will go. It’s already so polished.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Joe Danger and his escapades on his stunt bike, when the central character and his world are full of such love themselves. I’ll leave the last words to David Ream, words that sum up Joe Danger and its team of creators perfectly: “Why not have giant, mad robots dancing around in the background of the scrapyard level, while Joe flies past using his turbo?”

Why not, indeed?

4 Comments

    This game sounds fantastic. Anything which is akin to Trials is an instant buy for me. This is now on my must-watch-every-trailer list.

  • [...] Games‘ Joe Danger has been getting a lot of splendid coverage after their Eurogamer Expo appearances. We haven’t done much on it – not least because they haven’t made up their mind on [...]

  • [...] Games‘ Joe Danger has been getting a lot of splendid coverage after their Eurogamer Expo appearances. We haven’t done much on it – not least because they haven’t made up their mind on [...]

  • [...] to achieve. Joe Danger, Hello Games’ first title as a group, will soon be upon us. We first got our hands on the game back in October 2009, and I recently sat down with Sean to discuss the game, the recent IGF awards [...]

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